Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Do no harm

In the national debates about federal deficits, fearing any decision that could possibly be used against them, senators and members of Congress settled on sequestration—spending cuts made in huge chunks to whole sections of the federal budget without setting priorities or assessing consequences.

They took themselves off the accountability hook and allowed sequestration to take effect March 1. 

It would have helped if our senators and representatives had begun with the admonition that doctors follow: “First, do no harm.”

Sadly, because the White House has not exploded in a ball of fire, à la the movie “Independence Day,” the public and the media are taking little notice of the effects of sequestration cuts. But make no mistake: Sequestration is doing harm.

Harm is being done to individuals, communities and the environment as sequestration slows cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear facility in the state of Washington, with 250 workers released and another 2,500 facing furloughs.

Harm is being done because research into cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and influenza is losing crucial funding even as scientists say they are on the verge of treatment breakthroughs. Harm is being done to the future as the real possibility of diminished federal funding for medical and scientific research is making some scientists question whether they should even stay in the United States.

Promising graduate students are going to countries investing heavily in scientific research. According to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, “It is a harmful thing that we are doing both at a time of remarkable and almost unprecedented scientific opportunity, and we’re also at a time when we wish to know what things cost while ignoring what is possible.”

Sequestration was supposed to be so painful to every voting district that members of Congress would never let it happen and would find a real solution to long-term deficits. Sequestration proponents are more than happy to point out that no matter how much the left objects, massive budget cuts have so far produced none of the disasters predicted. So far.

Three weeks into sequestration, the proponents might be right. There has not been a major airplane crash, nor have we been poisoned by spoiled meat. No one has died because drugs were not safe.

Even so, instead of waiting for the worst, it would be preferable to find the best way rather than the cheapest way. Then there is a better possibility of really doing no harm over time as the effects of sequestration continue to unfold.


About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.