Friday, October 16, 2009

Dubious distinction

Here are three rates that at the very least are surprising:

Maine is the whitest state in the nation.
Maine has the oldest population in the nation.
Maine has the highest cancer rate in the nation.

I don't know what these mean, if they are related, if they're significant (other than the obvious: send us some young, healthy people of color!). Statistics are often damned lies, at the selective, hypocritical beck-and-call of politicians on the air. Yet this particular group of stats makes me think of Olympia Snowe and the heroic effort she's making to keep calm in the middle of the lies. "It's an historic moment," she says, implying that even in the face of an aging population, intransigent insurance companies, conscience-less lawyers, overpaid doctors, and 50 million poor people at the mercy of disease, even then the huge majority of politicians will not see past their parties' rhetoric, their re-election campaign, their donors and benefactors. I'm no Republican, and actually disagree strongly with Senator Snowe, but what other lawmaker is actually thinking about the people? The President is, I believe, but on the floor of the Senate, there never has been a time when Ted Kennedy is more missed.

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