Saturday, January 21, 2006

No money, no air

If the news reports are true, medical personnel at Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas yanked the respirator from a conscious and protesting 27-year old patient and stood idly by as she struggled for air for 16 minutes and finally suffocated to death, solely because she was unable to fork over the funds to keep it running. They gave her a 10-day notice to pay and then evicted her from the planet, bringing new meaning to the term “notice to quit.”

Meanwhile, others among us hark back to the Roaring 20s and are both willing and able to revel in $10,000,000 parties for a 13-year-old’s birthday. [This celebratory spectacle was put on by her doting defense contractor dad whose company produces body armor for our troops in Iraq, suggesting a grossly inflated price to US taxpayers, but that’s another story.]

Still others will fork over a million bucks for a fancy watch that doesn’t keep time as accurately as a $25 Timex.

Some will lavish their excess funds on yachts far larger than most homes, yachts that include both helicopters and gold-plated plumbing, and that require 16,000 gallons or more of gasoline on each fill-up, as marinas struggle to accommodate the size of these behemoths.

I guess we’re done with the notion of “Live simply, that others may simply live” but I wonder whether those who have won their race to the top ever realized how much effort it would take to expend their billions of dollars, or how empty they’d feel with each new purchase, forcing them to seek ever-costlier baubles and wonders, or cathedral-sized homes, rather than consider that they could use their good fortune to create something of real value while still having more than plenty left over for their own entertainment.

But I guess that wouldn’t work, because the whole point is not for one to be wealthy beyond measure, but rather wealthier than as many people as possible, and if one’s wealth doesn’t show, what good is it? If this means other people die for lack of a ventilator, or taxpayers (and troops) are bled for substandard body armor, or seniors once again face a diet of dogfood after their promised pensions are stolen, so be it. Life’s a lottery and they’re losers. The more losers there are, the bigger the winners can feel, and isn’t that the real point?


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