Monday, June 11, 2007

Of economics, the value of a human life and broken hearts

In the NY Times, the article "Pinning down the money value of a person's health"appears today in the business section talking about the economy of health care and its application to human beings.

I've been posting a lot about this topic albeit in different areas. We are facing drastic cuts to the Talking Book program for the blind and elderly which would disrupt their access to books.

So what is the value of the joy of reading? Of knowlege? How do you put a price on the effect of such a cut to people who cannot read a book? Imagine two, three years from now walking into Barnes and Noble bookstore and being unable to read any of the books on the shelf. Then you find out that there's the Talking Book program which was designed to open up the world of reading to the disabled. It is the only free program available for people. But you discover that because of the cuts back in 2007 the program is in disarray and materials aren't available.

[visual description: A little girl is shown holding a cassette player listening to a book on tape. To her right is a green cassette container.}

If only I had known , you'd think. I would have spoken up. How could our legislators let this happen?

We need to recognize that we let it happen when we don't speak up and let our legislators know what we think.

We need to look around and take responsibility as citizens for what is going on in how we are applying economics to the value of a human life. We tell people on Medicare they cannot have the wheelchair they need to go outside. That's the policy. So people are housebound for years. These people aren't celebrities so there's no camera whirring to show that they are locked up . There's no countdown of 23 days or 45 days for them. They are in house arrest for an unlimited period of time.

It's a disgrace. If we believe, as we profess to, that all human beings are equal and have inalienable rights - where are those rights in our system as it is where economics is the trump card that divides those who have access to basic health care and access to assistive technology?

Does anyone want to go tell the family I just talked to whose little boy can't get out of the house because they cannot afford to get him a power wheelchair and have no insurance coverage for it that their son has inalienable rights? I can't say that to them with a straight face. I believe it. I believe that child is equal to any other person on the face of this earth. And I believe that most people do. But we've been lulled into a state of inaction where we fail to take personal responsibility, even though we're in a democracy, for the policies our lawmakers set.

There are so many other people out there suffering because we are sitting by and allowing our legislators and our policy makers to apply economics to access to health care and assistive technology. When I post about such issues, like the Talking Book situation or the Right Wheelchair Campaign, I ask readers to join, to contact their legislators.

I do this because I hear the voices of those affected. In their voices I hear how their hearts and sometimes their spirits have been broken. No amount of money, no economic policy can fix a broken spirit or heart. That type of loss is unfathomable in any kind of equation.

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