How did our VA hospitals get in such terrible shape?and WHY did this happen? Our government’s cost cutting tactics, which farm out the management of VA hospitals to private corporations, is one reason. A Princeton professor has a theory about what’s REALLY going on.

Uwe Reinhardt says the problem lies with the people who are making policy, and says that the reports in the Washington Post about squalor at a US military hospital show how out of touch America’s elites really are. Walter Reed Army Hospital, where investigators found rodent infested facilities with holes in the ceilings and paint peeling off the walls, is less than six miles from the White House. The extreme tax cuts at top income levels that this administration has pushed through congress have only have helped to create a situation where people at the top, who influence government policy, are almost entirely estranged from the middle class.

In the British Medical Journal, Reinhardt writes that “Americans never tire of professing in words their gratitude to the brave men and women who fight the nation’s wars. Yet, with few exceptions, America’s government, financial, academic, and business elites are routinely shielded against the blood cost of war, as few of their offspring volunteer to serve in the military.

“It is perhaps understandable, if not forgivable, that an elite so carefully shielded from the physical and fiscal consequences of war, and so self absorbed in accumulating wealth and power, will almost innocently neglect its wounded soldiers, taking it on faith that ‘someone’ will take good care of them, without ever bothering to check whether it is so.

“Conditions in US military medicine will not change until its entire bureaucratic system is imbued with the idea that wounded soldiers no longer are pieces of human capital?but that they are fellow human beings worthy of our utmost gratitude and compassion, in deeds and in words.”

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Sometimes you have to wonder whether our government can see what is right in front of it.

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