Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Connect the dots

I read with interest an op-ed "entitled Politically Exhausted," in today's Boston Globe. It starts:

Here's how the current narrative goes: Americans are fuming. They are fed up with Washington, Wall Street, the stimulus package and banking bailouts, the attempts at health care reform, pretty much everything. The Tea Partiers are all the rage because they seem to channel this fury and threaten to reshape the contours of the political environment through their anger.

It’s a pretty good story. But it is not the real story. What is significant is not that a group of extremists are protesting the government. What is really significant is that the majority of Americans aren’t involved, energized, or even angry. Quite the opposite. They are enervated, afflicted with an overwhelming sense of political exhaustion, dispirited over how wrong things are and uncertain that they can ever be made right. Simply put, they’ve given up. (emphasis mine)

I think the writer of this article, Neal Gabler, has a good point here. This past year, which started out with such promise, has just become worse and worse, and it's worn people down. Speaking for myself: it's worn me down. Government just seems so complicated and well, political, that nothing can really get done. It's much easier to just watch TV or surf the Internet and ignore what is going on, because we feel like we can't do anything about it.

Reading on, I found this article (Cancer costs more than double since ’90),
The rising cost of cancer research and care, which helped reduce death rates by 16 percent over 40 years, is straining the US health system and needs to be restrained, commentators said in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association...The reduced death rates result from anti-smoking campaigns, early disease detection, and new drugs, which can cost individual patients up to $100,000 a year (note nothing mentioned about preventing cancer in the first place)...Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States, killing 562,000 people a year, according to the American Cancer Society...There has been “remarkable progress’’ in the treatment of certain types of cancer, the report said, including breast, Hodgkin’s disease, and testicular..."We’ve made progress, but people are still dying at too high a rate...’’
And reading still further (I had time today), I found this article (State honoring companies that detoxify manufacturing)
Since 1993, MD Stetson has cut its use of glycol ethers, often used as solvents, by nearly 60 percent, and today much of its product line is “green.’’ For that, the company was honored Monday by Massachusetts legislators and officials who administer the state’s 20-year-old Toxics Use Reduction Act, which aims to reduce the use of toxic substances.

Officials plan to highlight more than a dozen companies that, like MD Stetson, have cut toxic chemicals out of their manufacturing processes, helping to curb chemical use in Massachusetts by 41 percent since the law went into effect. Those companies include Millipore Corp., which has a research and development facility in Bedford, Lightolier in Fall River, and PerkinElmer Optoelectronics of Salem.

Jason Marshall, laboratory director at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where MD Stetson’s cleaning products were tested independently, lauded the Randolph company for “making Massachusetts safer.’’

“They did the right thing for the right reason,’’ Marshall said. “They said, we know the chemicals we use may not be the best for someone’s health.’’

To me, it's very simple to connect the dots between these three articles. It's important to feel angry (as I do) that people aren't focusing on preventing cancer (instead of just finding it and possibly curing it), and one way to do that is to encourage companies to reduce (or eliminate) the toxicity of the chemicals that they spew into the environment. I just wish there were more people who connected these same dots.

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