Have you seen those really big, foam I’m #1 faux-hands? You know, the ones with the huge index finger pointing straight up. Watch just about any sporting event on TV and you’ll spot zillions of them. Well, it’s not just for sports. Americans really believe that shit – We’re #1 in anything and everything.
For example, don’t we absolutely believe we have the very best, state-of-the-art medical care right here in the USA? You bet we do. And we do, don’t we? No we don’t. We’re not even close. And the real information never seems to make its way into the mainstream of public discourse. Why not? Perhaps, because of things like today’s New York Times. In today’s edition there is a story about a CDC report on infant mortality. It’s devastating – or it should be –to the American psyche. But it’s stuck away, deep within the paper’s Science Section. I’d bet it’s on the least read page of today’s newspaper.
What’s it say that’s so vital?
Not only are we not #1 in the world in infant mortality – the USA is way down the list at #29. Okay, you might say… #29 ain’t so bad. After all there must be a couple of hundred countries in the world, right? Aren’t there 180 or so members of the UN General Assembly? Something like that…
The CDC report only ranks the top 36 nations. We’re #29. You still think that ain’t bad?
Among the world’s ten safest places for newborns, the Top 3 are all where? Go ahead, take a guess.
They’re in Asia.
At the top spot, #1 is Singapore; #2 is Hong Kong (Oh, my God, a communist controlled country!); and #3 is Japan. The next top 3 are all nations in Western Europe with (Oh, my God… Socialized medicine!) Sweden, Norway and Finland. Worse yet, all the remaining countries in the Top Ten, including a 4-way tie for #10, are also European countries with universal national health programs: Spain, Czech Republic, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany, Greece and Italy.
In fact, all the remaining nations with better infant mortality rates than the United States of America, they all have universal national healthcare, taxpayer funded, single-payer systems that leave no one out – no one.
All the countries we like to make fun of are all ahead of us… France, Canada, England, and even Cuba. Yes, CUBA! And we both thought –for sure! – that the Cuban commies damn near ate their newborns, didn’t we?
You still think our USA healthcare is so great? Which countries do you think we did manage to beat? How about Slovakia and Poland, Russia, Bulgaria and Romania. We beat everyone in Africa, didn't we? I suppose, if the USA was in Africa, we would be #1! Makes you proud, doesn’t it?
So, what’s left to defend about rapacious, capitalist, private, for-profit US healthcare? You got anything to say? Wait a minute… I hear you. Infant mortality, you’re shouting, isn’t that big a problem. It’s not a large enough public health issue for us to worry about or to use as a measuring rod for overall medical care quality.
You really believe that, don’t you? That’s all right. Don’t blame yourself – a lot of Americans probably would say that.
So… how many Americans – newborns and babies - actually die in the United States of America every year during their first year of life (the CDC worldwide measure of infant mortality statistics)? How many? Take a guess. Don’t be hesitant. Guess.
According to the CDC report, 28,000 American children under the age of 1 die every year right here in the USA. That is the equivalent of a 9/11 every 5 weeks! Can you imagine how we would react if we had a 9/11 event 10 times a year? Every year!
It’s been almost 8 years since 9/11/2001. In that time, about 225,000 American babies have died on our watch. The War On Terror altered our Constitution, trashed our civil liberties and ruined our national budget. What about the War on Infant Mortality?
The next time you are forced to take off your shoes at the airport, open your purse or attaché case or other carry-on for a hands-on, detailed inspection of your private belongings; the next time you go through a metal detector in a public building or at a concert or sporting event – go ahead, ask yourself: What are we doing in America to save the lives of 28,000 newborn infants? Don’t we have a multi-billion dollar bureaucracy called The Homeland Security Agency? Do we have an Infant Mortality Agency?
These are the questions. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the answers. Maybe you don't even like the questions. Feel a little uncomfortable, huh?
Perhaps, The New York Times should have printed their story on page 1, above the fold, in a large, bold font across the entire FrontPage.