THE BLOG
11/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Reality Check

I have seen several articles on 9/11 debating whether the US is safer now than then, particularly since we went to Iraq. That 9/11 is even connected to Iraq as somehow making us safer is laughable, especially considering the only relation between the two is that 9/11 was used as an excuse to get into Iraq. Any suggestion that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 has been roundly proven to be non-existent. Yet the myth remains.

Ironically (or not considering the climate of this country since the year 2000), in the so many "arguments" against healthcare reform, the reason most often posited against any public option by those purporting to be reasonable is the cost. This is ironic mainly considering these same naysayers have not been arguing against the obscene cost of the Iraq war. Even if the government took over 100% of healthcare, owned every medical facility, hired every medical professional, and owned all of the equipment, the cost still would come nowhere near what we have spent and continue to spend on the Iraq war.

Supporters of the Iraq war have long used the argument that being there keeps us safe from terrorists. This of course is in spite of evidence against any connection between Iraq and terrorism, at least before we got there. We may now have created more terrorists in the way we have handled and treated the citizens in Iraq. But to the supporters of the war, spending money in Iraq is spending money to combat terrorism.

Yet let's be realistic here. Suppose we actually were doing something to fight terrorism by being in Iraq. Would the cost still be justified?

Ask the average American how their life or the lives of their family members have been touched by terrorism. It is more likely that this person has been struck by lightning five times than it is they have been personally affected by a terrorist attack. Yes, it can be scary for some people to contemplate. But seriously, it is extremely rare any of us will endure anything terrorist-related that affects us personally.

Ask the same average American how their life or the lives of their family members have been affected by the healthcare crisis in this country. It is more likely that they or a family member have been affected personally by the healthcare crisis than not. Nearly everyone has some story to tell. And even if citizens haven't yet been affected, the possibility they will be affected if they lose their job (a much higher possibility even in a good economy than being affected by terrorism), then the lack of affordable healthcare will affect them.

We have spent billions and continue to spend billions in Iraq based on the dubious possibility we might be fighting terrorism, something that affects so few people, yet most of us cannot point to anyone who has been personally affected by it. At the same time, we have politicians and citizens arguing against a public option because they claim we can't afford it, even though most of us are affected by it every day.

We need a reality check. The next time a politician claims we can't afford public healthcare, ask them to stop spending money in Iraq and spend it here on healthcare instead. Even if we could afford Iraq (we can't), and even if being in Iraq protected us (it doesn't), the reality is we should stop spending that money there and spend it here at home on something that affects all of us every day.