From time-to-time I’ve commented on the dominance of a very conservative political ethos in our region, and wondered about its internal inconsistencies. After all, the region was settled with the aid of the Homestead Act, the protection of the army and transportation made available through subsidized railroad construction. Dams paid for with federal money damed up the Columbia and Snake for water, electricity and barging. The REA extended the benefit of that electricity to remote areas. And so on. Be that as it may, it has not stopped the majority opinion from electing hard core right wingers to congress and cheering on Tea Party lunacy.
A few days ago The Times, the local Waitsburg weekly, and a fine one at that, headlined that state cuts could close Dayton Hospital. Dayton, Washington’s General Hospital is a small hospital and nursing home providing solid basic health care to a large rural area. Larger hospitals offering a full range of health care services are 35 miles away. The much needed and highly valued Dayton General is able to exist in part through state grants, and that’s the problem. The state has its own revenue problems and intends to cut funding to rural hospitals by enough so that Dayton General would have to close. Its board of directors has said they are unwilling to go to the voters for even higher local taxes to make up the pending shortfall of something over $400,000, and they want folks to petition the legislature for relief.
A true blue Tea Party conservative would have none of that. If the local people cannot afford, or choose not to afford, the cost of their little hospital, why should taxpayers on the wealthier West Side of the mountains, or those from ritzy Spokane, fork over their hard earned cash to pay the bill? The best government is the least government, right? Smaller is better than bigger. Lower taxes are better than higher. People have to learn to take care of themselves and not rely on government handouts. Isn’t that right?
So I figure that the honest conservatives of the Dayton General Hospital catchment area will not only refuse to petition their legislators, but rise up in righteous indignation against this blatant appeal to nanny state socialism. If the local people won’t pay for it, then let it close. Who knows, maybe the locals will loosen their pocket books and pony up another $400,000 a year in taxes to keep it open. It’s their choice.