I begin with this widely shared Facebook post by Dr. Wallach that calls out unscrupulous doctors, and I follow with my perspective of the modern killing fields caused by public policy.
THE KILLING FIELDS…. Dr. Joel Wallach
“The United States had lost 56,000 military personnel in Vietnam over a ten-year period, for an average of 5,600 per year. Millions of people poured out into the streets to protest these lost lives. We had political anarchy for the last three years of the Vietnam war because of these deaths. And because of these deaths, God forgive us, we shot and killed American students at Kent State in Ohio, who were just exercising their First Amendment rights to free assembly and free speech. YET NO GROUP WAS OUT MARCHING IN THE STREETS WITH PLACARDS PROTESTING THE KILLINGS BY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION.
In July, 1994, another Ralph Nader survey pointed out that 70 percent of doctors who treat Medicare patients flunked the exam on how to treat seniors safely and effectively. What would happen to American Airlines if 70 percent of their pilots flunked the exam on how to fly. What would happen to American Airlines if they killed 150,000 to 300,000 passengers per year? Everyone [even Congress] would ‘go Greyhound!’
Medical doctors reacted violently to the Ralph Nader statistics that I routinely quoted in my “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie” tape. They wrote articles in their own defense and went on talk radio to try to reduce the amount of damage to their image as all-knowing saviors of the American public.
Doctors [finally] admitted killing 80,000 Americans each year, but it was too late. The genie was out of the bottle and the spin-doctors couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty, M.D. back together again!”
THE KILLING CONTINUES…. Wayne Caswell
Why is it that we get mad about some kinds of killing but not others? What about the killing caused by actions of elected officials, with the apparent objective of suppressing votes? When is that not okay? The term I use to describe that is Political Genocide.
POLITICS: Might there be a nefarious motive behind deaths from public policy? How can these deaths be viewed as acceptable collateral damage from cutting taxes on the wealthy? They seem intentional and designed to keep political power when faced with shifting demographics, such as the white Christian majority turning into a minority. The deaths from public policy disproportionately affect people who would vote against Republicans, if they could even vote at all, so one has to wonder and question the motives. And then there’s the War on Drugs, which President Nixon used to replace the War on Poverty. As a result of this policy change, the United States now has the largest prison population in the world, with over 2M potential voters taken off the streets. Sad!
HEALTHCARE: CBO scoring says the Republican Obamacare replacement bills from the House and Senate would cause 23M and 22M people to lose health insurance, and the Repeal-only plan would cause 32M to lose insurance. Respected studies of health insurance and mortality rates suggest that causing 32M people to lose insurance would likely result in 6M (estimates vary) dying prematurely. That’s over 100 times more deaths than in Vietnam. No wonder there are so many protests, including people who don’t want to die at the hands of Republicans.
POVERTY: A less obvious killing field comes from the 43M people who live in poverty, because there’s a very direct relationship between Poverty, Obesity and Longevity. And there are significant average lifespan differences of about 20 years between low-income and affluent neighborhoods on opposite sides of the SAME TOWN. According to HBO’s documentary, The Weight of the Nation, public health officials can accurately predict obesity and longevity rates by zip code. One inner city example had an average lifespan of just 64 years versus 90 years for a wealthier neighborhood just 8 miles away. Pay close attention to the regressive policies our current Congress is trying to push through, many of them in secret.
- Onerous candidate qualifications can make it intentionally difficult to opposition candidates to get on the ballot or be invited to public debates.
- Poll taxes and literacy tests are traditional ways to suppress votes, but courts have since deemed them illegal.
- Gerrymandered Voting Districts is a creative way of drawing voting districts to win more seats than otherwise suggested by population demographics.
- Voter ID Laws can disenfranchise voters who don’t own a car or have a driver’s license, including college students, the poor, and the elderly. The Republican-controlled US Supreme Court in recent years overturned a law that long prohibited states with a history of voter suppression from making rule changes without first getting court approval. Since then, those abusive states have returned to their old practices, but a few courts have declared their practices unconstitutional. Still, this remains a problem in many locations.
- Government-issued Photo IDs become a problem when it’s too difficult for some people to get one.
- Voter Registration Records have been purged of predominantly Democrats in the name of preventing voter fraud, even though reported cases of fraud are extremely rare. There have also been cases of states intentionally making it harder to even register to register to vote, especially for those who don’t drive and depend on public transportation.
- Misinformation can confuse voters so they show up at the wrong place to vote, or on the wrong date. Some of the most creative tricks include posting billboards or distributing flyers with intentionally wrong information in predominantly poor or minority neighborhoods. Another risk is Deceptive advertising, such as “Avoid The Line. Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925 and we’ll make history together.”
- Polling Locations & Times can be strategically selected to mostly disadvantage voters who would predominantly vote for Progressive candidates. Related to that are changing or reducing the number of polling places and eliminating early voting days.
- Unequal voting day resources can intentionally cause long lines and include changing multi-lingual voter assistance.
- Polling place intimidation by volunteer “election observers” or other means is an effective way to keep opposition voters away. Even legal hispanics avoid places where they fear authorities will question their citizen status. Other threats to discourage voting have included “Phone Jamming” and large billboards in poor or hispanic neighborhoods that say “Voter Fraud is a Crime and WILL be Prosecuted.”
- Incarceration was the result of flipping President Johnson’s War on Poverty into a War on Drugs? Why was this done? Felons aren’t allowed to vote, so this is just another form of voter suppression.
Robert Reich has some Good Suggestions