--Bring out your dead!
--(feebly) I'm not dead!
--Well... he will be soon-- he's very ill
--Monty Python and the Holy Grail
He said, "Call the doctor. I think I'm gonna crash."
"The doctor say he's comin', but you gotta pay him cash"
--Life in the Fast Lane, The Eagles
Back in 2001 the United States began a Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) motivated by the death of 3,000 people in a terrorist criminal attack. The response was a flawed logic which called for a military response to a civil criminal action.
At the end of 2013, The Week published a precis that almost half a million people die needlessly in U.S. hospitals annually:
The third leading cause of death
About 440,000 people die as a result of preventable error in U.S. hospitals every year, a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety found. That means one in six deaths can be attributed to mistakes in hospitals, making them the third-leading cause of death.
Why do we get all squidgy over 3,000 deaths yet accept this murderous travesty, marching on like Rangers with their faces to the icy wind. Using PWOT© logic, we should bomb hospitals, kidnap doctors off the street and torture them in dark site prisons. (Tangentially, this could provide the basis for a new dark side version of Scrubs.) But what should we do about this rampant medical incompetence?
We also get emotional about gun control and the ~30,000 annual gun deaths, but this is paltry compared to the negligent medical deaths, deaths for which we pay (though under the impression we would get to live after forking out the bucks.) Of course, deaths by medical error are nothing new, ditto gun deaths.
Why do we ignore some deaths while accepting others? Drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, deficient medical procedure, drunk, aggressive and distracted drivers and unsanitarily raised and slaughtered meat are all more present and dangerous threats to our nation than terrorism. Why does militarizing the least threat comfort us while the manifold daily actual threats get short shrift?
We shunt funding from agencies which could address these actual real-life killers while accepting the diversion of our attentions to foreign endeavors which will never deliver safety here at home. Why?
In Vietnam the soldiers would alternately say of their posting, "This is nowhere, man" or, "This is Disneyland." How prescient that dismissive workingman observation of their confusing situation in Southeast Asia would turn out to be for America, 2013.
This is Disneyworld.