To the editor,

It was sad to learn of the “tragic death” of Cokie Roberts. But that adjective strikes me as being quite out of place, used inappropriately in service to human myopia and greed – and in disservice to Ms. Roberts.

Her death, “sad,” yes. But tragic? A better perspective is needed. We Americans need to see things more clearly. More sanely!

People die of “natural causes” all the time. In unforeseen ways. Owing to (what lawyers call) “acts of God.” But talk of the cause of Cokie’s “tragic” death must not be conflated, thus, with natural (unavoidable, inevitable) causes. Like being hit by lightning or by a falling chunk of masonry, whilst walking in an urban canyon.

There is something tragic in all of this, but it isn’t the death of Ms. Roberts, per se. Rather, it’s human shortsightedness and greed. Especially in high places.

Imagine! One of Trump’s first proposals after becoming president was to suggest a cut in the federal budget: to reduce annual funding to the NIH – The National Institutes of Health, our flagship governmental agency, to make possible vital medical research – to the tune of $21 billion.

And this stupidity comes, not in the face of the inevitable, but in the face of the preventable, unfulfilled.

As long as the likes of Trump propose and establish funding cuts that thus make impossible lots of vital medical research, human carnage will result. Have resulted! To a fare-thee-well, as we all know! With our sacrificial lambs representing every economic stratum!

And, of course, the GOP scripts employed at sad times like this are heavy in the use of “thoughts and prayers” and “hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars!”

President Reagan is routinely lauded for having suggested that “Government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem!” And that government should “get out of the way”… so as to allow the private sector alone to eliminate the problems that we Americans now face. (Just how idiotic is that?)

Sounds good to some, I know. As long as one doesn’t think of the trillions of dollars, and other resources, ponied up by the federal government – the only agency capable of funding such medical research! – in that profoundly fruitful “private public” partnership.

I now cannot help but think of selfish Americans, on their death beds, in hospice care. Reflecting, in quietude, “Maybe I overplayed that ‘hard-earned-taxpayers’-dollars’ schtick!” Then to think, “Still, maybe there is a way that I can take it with me!”

Dick Behling

Cottage Grove

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