Letter, Opinion

Understanding public vs. private

Dear Editor,

From Ayn Rand to Ronald Reagan, America’s conservative heroes have preached “public is bad, private is good.” Yet public means “accessible to or shared by all members of the community,” while private means “intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class.”  We’re paying a great price for that now that we face a truly “public” health crisis.

For years, we have cut the very programs that could help us the most now. The Trust for America’s Health reports that the budget for the Centers for Disease Control failed to keep up with inflation and federal funding to help states and localities prepare for emergencies were reduced by 35%.

What happens when a “public health crisis” strikes a country that has no “public health plan?”  There is no system to assess the spread of disease, to ensure we have the necessary supplies, to allocate the supplies we do have. Instead of a public system manned by experienced people, the crisis must be managed by whoever happens to be at the top of the heap at the moment the crisis arrives. The response will be delayed and its effectiveness will depend on the competence of that person at the top of the heap.

Which brings us to Donald John Trump, the man in charge. The man who recently asked reporters “Did you know I was No. 1 on Facebook?” That, not surprisingly, is a very “private” concern.

Lee Russ, Bennington

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