Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanks, Ron

Far be it from me to blame everything that's happened in the past four decades on Ronald "What's my next line?" Reagan, the way teabaggers blame our Bush-induced economic calamities on Barack Obama. But it was when I was in training in SF, CA, that the then-governor decided that hospitalizing the mentally ill wasn't worth the money, and rousted them onto the streets, where, for the most part, they remain.

That legacy remains, too: in our area there are virtually no inpatient facilities for the mentally ill; not now, not when I wrote this piece on Surgeonsblog. Nor, evidently, are there any in Virginia, where a homocidal kid was released into the wild after a court-ordered psych evaluation, for lack of beds.

As it is with hurricanes and typhoons, evidently, one can't make a global case based on any particular event; but I see this tragedy as emblematic of the failures that derive from teabagger-type austerity. "Saving" money in the short term, ignoring the long-term consequences. Justifying what amounts to no more than selfishness; allowing oneself to believe that magic will take care of the future, so it's fine not to care about present problems. While claiming exceptionalism for the country in whose most basic tenets you don't actually believe.

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