Monday, March 5, 2007

Follow Up on Walter Reed

I posted earlier on the situation (see "This is Appalling"), but the whole horrid story keeps expanding. Paul Krugman (behind the NY Times pay wall) nails one of the core reasons that the situation deteriorated:

Yet even now it's not clear whether the public will be told the full story,
which is that the horrors of Walter Reed's outpatient unit are no
aberration. For all its cries of "support the troops," the Bush
administration has treated veterans' medical care the same way it treats
everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and
privatizing everything it can. But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done
all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is
another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration's
misgovernment became obvious to everyone.We know from Hurricane Katrina
postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA's effectiveness was the
Bush administration's relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster
management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of
the agency's most experienced professionals. It
appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans' care.

While some thing work well under private management, there is a reason why we have a government. The care of our soldiers shouldn't be based on profitability. Responding to disasters shouldn't be based on "the bottom line".

Historically, societies form governments to collectively address the greater needs of said society. After all, the average disaster doesn't ask how everybody will pay for it.

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