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Triage for an Injured America

we can triage our response by funding more drilling and pipelines or by developing less damaging sources of energy.
Injured America

But which injuries must be attended to first? Once the most seriously compromised patient reaches the front of the line and we discover he or she presents with multiple problems, we’re faced with a second layer of triage. Do we treat the bullet wound first or the athlete’s foot? Do we treat the paper cut or the dangerously low blood glucose? The septicemia or the seasonal allergies? The Stage 2 cancer or the aneurysm?

If we start a patient on a three-week treatment plan to address their dry skin while leaving the broken leg unset, the bone will heal incorrectly and need to be broken again and reset before the patient has any chance of a full recovery. Priorities matter. Slow, incremental “progress” when a person is dying right before our eyes isn’t going to get the job done.

In the middle of a pandemic which has already killed over 300,000 Americans and caused millions to lose their employer-sponsored health insurance, why is subsidizing fossil fuel corporations a priority over Medicare for All? As we triage our nation’s needs, why is granting corporations immunity for exposing their employees and customers to COVID a higher priority than paying landlords not to evict tenants unemployed through no fault of their own? Or paying employees directly to stay home and reduce the spread of the virus? Why is a tax break for the wealthiest 1% more “urgent” than food for displaced workers or keeping small businesses afloat or paying restaurants to stay closed?

We can triage our response by funding more drilling and pipelines or by developing less damaging sources of energy.

It’s not that we don’t have the resources to treat “the masses.” While the limited doses of monoclonal antibodies might only be enough to treat the wealthy and politically connected, we have more than sufficient funds to cover Medicare for All and provide most everything else. We could divert a full half of our military budget to address our many other national vulnerabilities and still spend more on our military than any other country in the world. We could divert half of our police budgets to fund mental health agents to deal with mental health crises in a more effective manner than wielding guns and tasers, to educate and hire social workers to deal with issues even the best police officers simply aren’t trained to handle.

With the stock market trading on water futures because of increasing scarcity, and the climate crisis accelerating even faster than predicted, we can triage our response by funding more drilling and pipelines or by developing less damaging sources of energy.

If a patient is rushed to the emergency room with a stab wound to the gut, does the doctor grab a scalpel and plunge it into the patient’s neck?

So why do we choose such an insane political approach to treat the wounds of global warming and pollution and income inequality and racism?

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We don’t need political “saviors” determined to keep fracking wells going so that workers won’t be displaced. We need our public servants to retrain workers and create environmentally sustainable jobs for us.

If a patient is diagnosed with celiac disease, do we send them back home without any instructions on how to eat so that their body can thrive?

So why don’t we teach civics classes at every level? Why do we refuse to educate our citizenry by guaranteeing tuition-free college and vocational training to all? Are we satisfied when our patients are only 62% gangrene-free?

We don’t recruit our medical team from applicants with no professional training. So why do we expect our untrained, uneducated citizens to be able to heal their own injuries? Or the illnesses of their neighbors? Or solve any problems at all?

One of those problems is that while some on the medical team are healers, others are serial killers disguised as angels of mercy.

How can we tell which is which? By watching how they triage patients and care.

We all see the desperate situation we’re in as Americans. Some believe the solution is to kill off half the country so that there are more resources for the survivors. The rest of us realize we have more than enough resources even now, in the midst of medical and financial chaos, to treat everyone in the emergency room.

We can “save” billionaires by giving them billions of dollars more and leaving everyone else to fight over the remaining pennies.

Johnny Townsend

Or we can save almost everyone, including the wealthy, by ensuring that every American has healthcare, education, housing, and a survivable climate. We can save America’s life, if we address the most urgent needs first.

Johnny Townsend