I was out of the house for most of the day, and came home the next morning to find my cat at the back door, wheezing, gagging, foaming at the mouth, and clearly in a great deal of physical distress. He had been perfectly healthy the day before, so my first thought was that he had suffered some sort of catastrophic injury or poisoning in my absence.
I tried to examine him as best I could, despite his protestations, and noticed a small piece of grass sticking out of his nose. Several claw wounds later I grabbed the grass and yanked, ending up with a seven-inch blade between my fingers, and a suddenly symptom-free cat in my bloodied arms. I’m guessing my cat must have been eating grass when he somehow sneezed or coughed up the blade, lodging it in his nose and throat.
God knows how many hours my cat suffered from this painful and debilitating, yet easily remedied mishap? And it got me thinking. How many hundreds of thousands of Americans were suffering at that very moment from some easily treated illness or injury, simply because they lacked the money to pay for medical care? How much debilitating pain was shooting through their brains? How many moans and cries were ignored? How many tears were shed?
If our debate over universal healthcare was informed as much by empathy as it is by economics, I wonder how quickly it would inevitably devolve into the usual ideological battle over the relative efficiencies of the market?