White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has cancer. The NBC Nightly News just broadcast an a story and interview about his treatment, his prospects for improvement and his thoughts about facing what may be a terminal disease. A father of three children, Snow has a lot of good reasons to live, a fact he stated plainly. The thought of leaving his family caused him to break down into tears.
I bring this up only to make a very simple point: in that moment, thinking about his own mortality and the fate of his family if were to die before his time…could he honestly say that he believes the United States should deny other individuals in his position the care he is receiving because they are out of work–or worse, employed but in a position that doesn’t provide health care? Does he think that recently laid off fathers and mothers have less reason to live?
Of course he doesn’t. He’s a Republican talking head, but he’s not a sociopath. In that moment, I can’t for the life of me think that he could honestly say that his right to enjoy and affect his family’s lives (to say nothing of his own) is somehow superior to the right of other men and women in his position, simply on the basis of their employment status. Universal health care should be conceived of as a fundamental human right. We have the money. We have the technology. We have the tax base. If that means fewer doctors build houses in the Hamptons, well, I suppose the other 99.8% of us who aren’t directly employed as doctors or as pharmaceutical employees will have to learn to live with it.