Letter: A 'public' crisis in a country that worships 'private'

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To the Editor:

From Ayn Rand to Milton Friedman to Ronald Reagan, America's conservative heroes have preached "public is bad, private is good." Just ask a former 2-term president and a former Nobel Prize winner:

- "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Ronald Reagan

- "I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible " Milton Friedman

Yet public means "accessible to or shared by all members of the community," while private means "intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class." Devotion to the private means we are in this together only as long as "this" is something that benefits the people at the top. If it doesn't, then it's private as hell and everybody must fend for themselves in a war that obviously favors a "particular person, group, or class."

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Under this philosophy, funding for anything that benefits the "public" is inevitably cut. And we're paying a great price for that now that we face a truly "public" health crisis. For years, we have cut the very programs that could help us the most now. The Trust for America's Health reports that the budget for the Centers for Disease Control failed to keep up with inflation and federal funding to help states and localities prepare for emergencies were reduced by 35 percent.

What happens when there is a "public health crisis" in a country that has no "public health plan?" Look around. There is no system to assess the spread of disease, to ensure we have the necessary supplies, to allocate the supplies we do have. In the absence of a public system in place, run by experienced people whose job it is to keep an eye out for the safety of the public, the crisis must be managed by whoever happens to be at the top of the heap at the moment the crisis arrives. The response will be delayed and its effectiveness will depend on the competence of that person at the top of the heap.

Which brings us to Donald John Trump, the man in charge. The man who recently asked reporters "Did you know I was No. 1 on Facebook?" That, not surprisingly, is a very "private" concern.

Lee Russ,

Bennington


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