This is from ABC news

A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn’t afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care.

According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis’ wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn’t afford both, so he chose the pain medications.

The tooth infection spread, causing his brain to swell. He died Tuesday.

I can’t help but remember during the debate over whether some form of universal health care was necessary, I heard many, many times that it wasn’t because you could always go to the emergency room.

That isn’t always enough.

Humans are valuable. Even though we are at more than nine percent unemployment, there is no need to kill off the surplus population ala Scrooge.

I wonder about people who feel that when we act in brotherhood by helping the weak, the helpless, the young and the poor that we damage society, weaken it in some fundamental way.

They point to some strange future in which the society crumbles into clusters of helpless idlers watching television and waiting for their government hand out.

I suspect this has something to do with Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and most particularly, a fellow named Friedrich Nietzsche. He points to a “master slave mentality.” Let me allow Wikipedia to explain –

Master-slave morality is a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsche‘s works, in particular the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: ‘Master morality’ and ‘slave morality’. Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions. What Nietzsche meant by ‘morality’ deviates from common understanding of this term. For Nietzsche, a particular morality is inseparable from the formation of a particular culture. This means that its language, codes and practices, narratives, and institutions are informed by the struggle between these two types of moral valuation. For Nietzsche, master-slave morality provides the basis of all exegesis of Western thought. While slave morality values things like kindness, humility and sympathy, master morality values pride, strength, and nobility.

I am a happy victim of the slave mentality. I want to be kind and sympathetic to those in trouble. But I can’t help but notice that I also try to live my life as a gentleman and a scholar, values that seem to derive from the master morality.

Perhaps, Rand, Friedman, and their confederates err in believing too much in self-interest. Instead of accepting the master morality as a different version of responsibility (nobility), they refine or reduce it to a philosophy of self worship. In other words, we exist only as individuals in fierce competition. We are no more than individual atoms in conflict with one another incapable of real connection.

It is an interesting point of view. You might call it cruel. But it aims at results. Those who are productive, for instance – job creators, should be rewarded by society while the non productive classes should be reduced in number by enforcing on these poor non-producers the need to compete and exert themselves.

So, the best of all possible worlds is one in which the weak are discarded when they fail to measure up.

Mr. Willis is an unfortunate example of the slave mentality in action. If he would have only had the proper mentality, that of the master morality, he would have found a job, removed the tooth himself; you know – he would have discovered self-reliance. But Mr. Willis lived in a society with 35 million unemployed. Wisdom teeth are difficult to get at without the right tools and self-reliance is a good deal if you have loads of money, the rest of us have to depend on each other.

I disagree with the master philosophy when it is interpreted as a form of self-interest. We are all brothers and sisters sharing a responsibility one to all and all to one.

I adhere to a slave mentality in many ways. For instance – this one –

Luke 7:22-23
22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.
23 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

Of course, by the standards of some philosophies, this was a cruel weakening of the Hebrew nation. But once again, I will disagree.

That a fellow named Kyle Willis is dead is a tragedy for us all. It is a testament to the tragedy of unemployment, to the problem of a nation without universal health care, and to a population hardened by years of media reinforcement of self worship and cruelty to others.

James Pilant

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