Sunday, April 22, 2007

I read the news today, oh boy....

Forget Kansas; what is the matter with Mississippi?

For decades, Mississippi and neighboring states with large black populations and expanses of enduring poverty made steady progress in reducing infant death. But, in what health experts call an ominous portent, progress has stalled and in recent years the death rate has risen in Mississippi and several other states.

The setbacks have raised questions about the impact of cuts in welfare and Medicaid and of poor access to doctors, and, many doctors say, the growing epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension among potential mothers, some of whom tip the scales here at 300 to 400 pounds.

“I don’t think the rise is a fluke, and it’s a disturbing trend, not only in Mississippi but throughout the Southeast,” said Dr. Christina Glick, a neonatologist in Jackson, Miss., and past president of the National Perinatal Association.

To the shock of Mississippi officials, who in 2004 had seen the infant mortality rate — defined as deaths by the age of 1 year per thousand live births — fall to 9.7, the rate jumped sharply in 2005, to 11.4. The national average in 2003, the last year for which data have been compiled, was 6.9. Smaller rises also occurred in 2005 in Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. Louisiana and South Carolina saw rises in 2004 and have not yet reported on 2005.

Whether the rises continue or not, federal officials say, rates have stagnated in the Deep South at levels well above the national average.
The U.S. national average, as estimated by the CIA for 2007, is expected to be 6.37 per live births. So when the NYTimes says "well above the national average," they mean "almost double." 6.37 infant deaths per 1000 live births puts us well above every country in Western Europe. But they practice socialized medicine, so you know we're better off here. Somehow.

Cuba, by the way, suffering under the evils of socialism AND Fidel Castro, has an infant mortality rate of 6.04 percent. Aren't you glad our health care system isn't socialized, like theirs?

Why do I ask what's wrong with Mississippi? Isn't welfare a Federal program? True enough, yet:

In 2004, Gov. Haley Barbour came to office promising not to raise taxes and to cut Medicaid. Face-to-face meetings were required for annual re-enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, the children’s health insurance program; locations and hours for enrollment changed, and documentation requirements became more stringent.

As a result, the number of non-elderly people, mainly children, covered by the Medicaid and CHIP programs declined by 54,000 in the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years. According to the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program in Jackson, some eligible pregnant women were deterred by the new procedures from enrolling.

One former Medicaid official, Maria Morris, who resigned last year as head of an office that informed the public about eligibility, said that under the Barbour administration, her program was severely curtailed.

“The philosophy was to reduce the rolls and our activities were contrary to that policy,” she said.
But whoever you want to blame it on:

Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund, said: “When you see drops in the welfare rolls, when you see drops in Medicaid and children’s insurance, you see a recipe for disaster. Somebody’s not eating, somebody’s not going to the doctor and unborn children suffer.”
Well, at least they aren't being aborted, right?

Maybe we should blame their culture. After all, that's the excuse in Iraq when we find out are beating their prisoners savagely in order to get them to talk:

After the prisoner was returned to the Iraqis, Captain Fowler was asked whether the Americans realized that the information was given only after the Iraqis had beaten Mr. Jassam. “They are not supposed to do that,” he said. “What I don’t see, I don’t know, and I can’t stop. The detainees are deathly afraid of being sent to the Iraqi justice system, because this is the kind of thing they do. But this is their culture.”
Excuse me while I rage a little. I cannot let that stupid comment go by without remembering our now Attorney General who,as White House Counsel, declared the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and redefined torture to mean anything that dind't quite kill someone. "Their" culture, Captain Fowler? Don't flatter yourself.

And do you want a simple statement on just how incredibly stupid this invasion was, just how badly handled this whole mess has been, just how little hope there is that all the king's horses and all the king's men can't put Humpty Dumpty together again? We can't even agree with the Iraqis on which comes first, the chicken or the egg:

“Most of them don’t believe in this insurgency,” he said. “They are young people. They are having to stay home without employment. They want food. They want money. They want to be able to marry. But there are no jobs. If you offered them jobs, most of them would not be working with Al Qaeda.”

The American soldiers would agree, but they also are clear that the only way to bring jobs is first to make the neighborhood secure. “You need a J.S.S. every kilometer or so,” Captain Fowler said. For now, there are nowhere near that many security stations on Baghdad’s west side.
No wonder the soldiers call this area "the Wild West." They still believe the 19th century mythology that the American West was settled by overwhelming force and brute violence. But so long as people have no hope, there will always be violence; and force met with force just leads to the use of more violence. Of course, we could simply run Iraq the way Saddam Hussein did; say, with a J.S.S. every kilometer or so...

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