The Rant 

I think if I hear the word "economy" one more time I am going to lose what very little I have left of my mind. Every time I try to watch the news, read a newspaper, have a conversation, or blow my nose someone says something about the economy, money, the recession, or the rising price of gasoline, lettuce, and everything else.

And now that Standard & Poor's has lowered the country's credit rating and all manner of financial hell has broken loose, the economy is going to be in the news even more than it has been, if that is possible.

And those who aren't in his camp will still try to persuade us that this is all Barack Obama's fault. Pshaw. I think he inherited just a little bit of this mess from those who were in the White House before him.

The most egregious thing about all this economics talk, however, is this insanity about not covering cancer for World Trade Center first responders under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. It was passed last year to provide health care for September 11th-related illnesses, and the bill's opponents just can't make the connection between cancer and the fact that these people breathed in all that toxic dust from the wreckage.

The United States government has used the events of 9/11 to justify everything imaginable and now they say they won't pay for cancer treatments? What? Are they kidding? I just got back from a trip where one of those airport security robots took my toothpaste because the tube was too large but let me carry a cigarette lighter on board. I have been poked, prodded, X-rayed, questioned, and generally treated like a potential criminal just to fly on a plane, all in the name of homeland security in the aftermath of 9/11, but those who responded first to the attack can't get medicine for cancer?

We attacked Iraq and spent something in the vicinity of $3 trillion on our war of choice there, all in the name of homeland security after 9/11, but the people who were considered the country's greatest heroes can't get chemotherapy to help stay alive? They feel up women, confiscate adult diapers, take pregnant women's insulin, and scan babies, but those who responded first to the 9/11 attacks can't have a melanoma removed? They can force religious leaders to de-board an airplane because they happen to be Muslims instead of Southern Baptists, but a guy who risked his life at 9/11 who now has a tumor can't have it removed?

It shouldn't matter that they haven't had time yet to make the link between working at the site and getting cancer. ALL of the responders' illnesses should be covered. Hell, look at how long it took to figure out that smoking increases the chance of cancer? There's no way they can know yet if all that debris at Ground Zero is causing cancer, so what are they going to do if and when they find out that is the case? Apologize for the inconvenience of allowing people to die because they just couldn't get their research done?

But it's all about the money. It's all about balance sheets and profits and losses and cost-benefit analyses, not about the human beings. Am I somewhat naïve about things like this? Probably. But do I think anyone in the world should be denied medical treatment, especially these people? No way.

The only thing that irritates me more than this are the people who say they don't mind being searched and fondled at the airport because it makes them feel safe. If this is what it takes to make them feel safe, they should just stay home. I'm sorry, but a tube of toothpaste that is two inches longer than what is allowed on a plane is not a danger to anyone, anywhere, for any reason. Having mouthwash on planes is not going to cause a terror attack. The national lack of mental health-care resources is much, much more dangerous than that. Ask Timothy McVeigh's prosecutors if they were worried about him having hand cream or him being deranged. What's worse on an airplane — mouthwash or a cigarette lighter? You tell me.

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