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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Rick Santorum, meet Alex Chilton.

A freshman student pressed Santorum on healthcare. “With all due respect Sen. Santorum, I don’t think God appreciates the fact that we have 50-100 thousand uninsured Americans dying due to a lack of healthcare every year,” said Ryan Walters, according to CNN.

After questioning the student on his numbers, Santorum rejected them. “I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance. People die in America because people die in America. And people make poor decisions with respect to their health and their healthcare,” he said. “And they don’t go to the emergency room or they don’t go to the doctor when they need to. And it’s not the fault of the government for not providing some sort of universal benefit.”

Rick Santorum, meet Alex Chilton.

Oh yeah. You can’t. He died in 2010.

At least twice in the week before his fatal heart attack, Chilton experienced shortness of breath and chills while cutting grass. But he did not seek medical attention, his wife Kersting said, in part because he had no health insurance.

On the morning of March 17, she went to work. Chilton called her after suffering another episode; she arrived home before the ambulance, and drove him to the hospital. He lost consciousness a block from the emergency room, after urging Kersting to run the red light.

Alex Chilton was the leader of Big Star, one of the most influential American bands ever. Before that he was the singer for the Box Tops, you’ll remember them from “The Letter” and “Cry Like A Baby”. Chilton lived a hard life, and smoked, and unlike your American Idol wannabes, he never made much money doing what he did so well.

Rick Santorum, on the other hand, between being a lawyer and a Senator, probably had earned outrageous amounts of money. Add in his moronic Presidential campaign, where he’s gotten donations of over 800k- not a lot by Obama and Bush standards, but it ain’t chump change. For what? Rick Santorum is a hate mongering, homophobic theocrat who’s idea of a better America looks a lot like Iran or China. He stands no hope at all of being elected- to anything, at any time, thanks to Dan Savage- but still he gets invited to the debates, so that he can spew his warped sense of right and wrong to the people who cheer capital punishment and jeer gay soldiers. We won’t go into his views on gay rights, other than to say his views are at best misguided and un-Christian. But his recent statements on health care in this country goes a long way to summing up what sort of man Santorum is. To dispute the claim that upwards of 100,000 people die in this country due to lack of health insurance means he’s either stupid- and he’s given ample evidence to that in the past. Or he’s lying, and as I’ve always said, if you have to lie to make your point, you don’t have a point to make. Rick Santorum has undoubtedly had health insurance his entire life, first from his law firm, and then you and I picked up the tab when he was a Senator.

On the other hand, I doubt if Alex Chilton was covered at any point in his life. No musician I know, at least those who make their living solely by performing and recording, has insurance. Barely a month goes by without a plea for donations or a benefit for someone down on their luck with cancer or in a car wreck. It’s tragic, and in a nation so blessed with wealth, its wrong. But as Calvin Coolidge correctly noted, “The business of America is business”, and to that, our health care system is a profit center, putting stock prices first and patient care last. Lying fools such as Santorum and the jackals of Fox trumpet that our health care is second to none, but its not. In fact, by any ranking, we’re about the lowest among Western countries. Our life expectancy is 42nd, and we can barely manage to keep children alive to their teenage years. The people who claim otherwise are making money off it, nothing else. Rick Santorum included. And Rick Santorum will continue to spew his perverted brand of hatemongering as long as the donor dollars continue to roll in, and when Obama is elected again, he’ll go back to being a lawyer or a dinner speaker, and have more kids (he has 7 now).

Alex Chilton, on the other hand, died because he didn’t have health insurance. He’s not going to have any more kids. Or write another song as beautiful as Big Star’s “Thirteen”. He’ll never belt out a New Orleans classic in a smokey bar at 2am. He’ll never do any of that. Because he’s dead. I’m going to Memphis this weekend, home to Big Star, and I’m gonna raise a glass to the memory of Alex Chilton. And when I get rid of the beer, that will be my tribute to Rick Santorum.

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