In St. Petersburg last week, a group of about three dozen infidels staged a curious demonstration at a local non-profit Catholic hospital. The action by the non-believers was designed to give the lie to an oft-heard charge by fundamentalist Christians that, without a belief in a god who punishes wrong-doers with eternal torture, there can be no morality or decency. Christians decry atheists because, they affirm, why be good if you think that there is no cosmic gendarme who sees all, knows all and judges all in the next life – and smites those who performed dirty tricks in this one?
The infidel demonstration at the St. Anthony Hospital, one of Florida’s largest faith-based health care institutions, was inspired by a report of a protest event at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Forest Lake, Minnesota. There, U.N. aid personnel reportedly delivered much-needed real food to critically malnourished KFC customers. A quote from U.N. humanitarian affairs director Gloria Dominguez deeply touched many of the atheist group members, who decided that they, too, must do something of a humanitarian nature. Ms. Dominguez statement: “In all my years in the field, I’ve never come across a group of people who have gone so long without a proper meal.” (See “U.N. Aid Workers Distributing Food To Malnourished KFC Customers,” The Onion, March 6, 2013.) The U.N. volunteers distributed fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and other whole food plant-based nutrients to the desperate patrons at the Forest Hills KFC.
However, the infidels were unsure what to distribute and where until someone brought the latest issue of Time Magazine to their attention.
The Time expose (Steven Brill, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us,” Time Magazine, February 20, 2013) was of the non-profit health care sector of our economy. The story shocked the infidel group and led to a resolve to do something to help Americans oppressed, exploited and often financially ruined by rapacious, out-of-control Maddogs of Capitalism. Briefly, they learned from the Time expose the following:
* The U.S. “health” system is a profit-driven sickness management industry posing as a health care resource.
* Time’s line-by-line analysis of costs for products utilized during treatments in hospitals depicted a veritable gold rush of over-billing to a grotesque degree. (Examples include $1.50 for a generic version of a Tylenol pill – 100 sell at retail for $1.49; $13,702 for an injection of 600 MG of Rituximab that cost the hospital less than $3000, a markup of about 400 percent.)
* Tax-exempt ‘non-profit’ hospitals have become the most profitable businesses in nearly every town where they exist, and are run by the most richly compensated executives.
* Non-profit hospitals put demands on taxpayers to a degree “unequaled anywhere else on earth.” About 20% of U.S. GNP goes for medical care, twice that of other developed countries.
* In every measurable way, this predatory system fails to produce better health outcomes than are seen in other countries.
How does this happen, the infidels wondered? Then they read that the U.S. health care industry has spent well over 5 billion dollars lobbying politicians in Washington D.C. since 1998 – about two and a half times more than any other industry, including the defense industry.
Something had to be done to help the victims of this ghastly system. Where better to start than close to home? That’s when the idea came to the infidels to provide a bit of humanitarian assistance to besieged patients at St. Anthony Hospital.
On Thursday, the infidels showed up with signs and a wide variety of over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, boxes of band aids, adhesive tape, dressing gowns, water bottles and other such items that would be donated to hospital patients at no charge. Patients who accepted these items would save hundreds, quite possibly thousands of dollars by avoiding being billed for the same products at inflated prices.
Unfortunately, the free distribution program was terminated shortly after it began. It seems that hospital administrators called the St. Petersburg Police Department, demanding that the infidels be dispersed and removed from their property.
Something about restraint of trade.
Still, the media, alerted in advance, were present during the distribution of humanitarian assistance by the infidel group, and many interviews were aired on local stations. Later, the protesters convened for a debriefing, at which all agreed that their mission had been accomplished. Asked by one reporter if anyone expected to be rewarded in the next life for this or other good deed or for just generally being good people, none responded in the affirmative.
However, most of the supplies gathered to assist unfortunate hospital patients entering the proverbial lion’s den are still on hand, so look for further humanitarian efforts in the weeks to come at non-profit hospitals near you.