Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Rich Get Richer - The Poor Get Deader

In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof finds another example demonstrating that Bush may be Pro-Birth, but he's most definitely not Pro-Life.

We have Bush's stance on the death penalty, which, to put words in his mouth, could be summed up with a hearty, "Woo-doggie!" with guns fired into the air ala Yosemite Sam. There is his penchant for starting wars, killing hundreds of thousands for no good reason. We have his opposition to medical research. And don't forget Bush's tacit approval of genocide.

Now, some new reports come out showing that our infant mortality rate is on the rise since Bush took office. Why is that? Crappy health care for poor people. Oh, and a LOT more poor people.

Here's a wrenching fact: If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year.

In every year since 1958, America's infant mortality rate improved, or at least held steady. But in 2002, it got worse: 7 babies died for each thousand live births, while that rate was 6.8 deaths the year before.

Those numbers, buried in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, didn't get much attention. But they are part of a pattern of recent statistics dribbling out of the federal government suggesting that for those on the bottom in America, life in our new Gilded Age is getting crueler.

Singapore has the best infant mortality rate in the world: 2.3 babies die before the age of 1 for every 1,000 live births. Sweden, Japan and Iceland all have a rate that is less than half of ours.

If we had a rate as good as Singapore's, we would save 18,900 babies each year. Or to put it another way, our policy failures in Iraq may be killing Americans at a rate of about 800 a year, but our health care failures at home are resulting in incomparably more deaths - of infants. And their mothers, because women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe.

As readers know, I complain regularly about the Chinese government's brutality in imprisoning dissidents, Christians and, lately, Zhao Yan, a New York Times colleague in Beijing. Yet for all their ruthlessness, China's dictators have managed to drive down the infant mortality rate in Beijing to 4.6 per thousand; in contrast, New York City's rate is 6.5.

China! And Mr. Kristof didn't even go into the fact that abortions have actually increased since Bush took office. Why's that? Again with all the extra poor people - they can't afford to have kids in the first place.

It's like Midas, instead of turning things to gold, you turn them to dead. Well done, Mr. Bush!

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