Saturday, July 14, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #65 - Part 1

Clarabell Award: GOPper says people don't die from breast or prostate cancer

The Clarabell Award dishonoree of the week is one Chris Collins, the GOPper candidate for Congress from the 27th district of New York state.

In a recent interview with an online site called The Batavian, he explained - if I can thus abuse the word - he explained why he is against the health care law, so-called Obamacare.

Y'see, the reason health care is expensive these days has nothing to do with the health insurance industry or the exorbitant profits of BigPharma, or any of the rest; no, it has nothing to do with that.

It's because, quoting him, "People now don't die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things." Really.

In fact, an estimated 577,000 people in the United States will die from cancer this year, including about 40,000 deaths from breast cancer and 28,000 from prostate cancer. That's according to the American Cancer Society, which also points out that uninsured people, who have less access to regular health care, are less likely to detect cancer in its early stages, making it far more expensive to treat.

When his Democratic opponent, incumbent Kathleen Hochul, pointed out those facts, Collins responded like the clown he is, accusing her of "politicizing cancer."

It was a sort of variation on my Rule #12 of rightwing debate, which noted how often rightwingers advocate violence and then when it happens, accuse anyone pointing to their words as "politicizing a tragedy." "Never, never, never," the rule declared, "admit any responsibility for the meaning or impact of your own words."

In fact, his statement was so thoroughly dumb that the editor of The Batavian took it upon himself to say on Collins' behalf that Collins obviously meant that fewer people die of prostate or breast cancer, not no one. Except that Collins had the opportunity to say that in his reply to Hochul - he could have easily said something just like that, like "Don't daft. That was obviously just hyperbole." But he didn't. So did he really mean fewer rather than none?

As if that wasn't enough, he went on to say in the original statement that "our healthcare today is so much better, we're living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures," and other technological developments. Which is flat out wrong. Life expectancy as we normally express it is life expectancy at birth. The vast majority of the increase in that figure over the past several decades has not been in many more people living to a greater age, but in a reduction in infant and youth mortality. That is, it's not that people as a whole are living to a greater age but that more people are living to a given age. The things he cites have enabled us to live healthier longer, but not so much longer per se.

So: indifferent to the needs of the poor, either unable to admit a mistake too dumb to realize it was one, and ignorant to boot. A triple threat. And a clown.


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