Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Zadroga Bill v.2.0.

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I'm no fan of the current legislative branch.  It reminds me more of a group of kindergartners than it does a government body.  From what I learned in high school, the Senate and the House is supposedly full of elected adults.  I believed that was true until about 2009.  Now I'm convinced that we have more than six hundred children making laws and shouting at each other.  I am a firm advocate of replacing each member of Congress with a cat.  Despite the animal's six hour day, they would still get more done than the current elected body, and with less fighting to boot.  Plus, it would probably be easier to get six hundred cats (a very independent animal, mind you) to agree on something.  

Cat jokes aside, I thought that passing the Zadroga Bill would be a no-brainer.  It was a simple piece of legislation, after all.  For those of you that don't know, the Zadroga Bill gives workers at the wreckage of the World Trade Center (firemen, policemen, etc.) health coverage.  A disturbingly high amount of rescuers now have harmful diseases and illnesses caused by the volatile carcinogens that they inhaled at ground zero.  

Brief history lesson here: the Zadroga Bill had a rough time getting passed because the republicans didn't want to cover the health expenses of illegal immigrants (or, god forbid, Muslims).  I'll say that again.  The republicans did not want to cover the health expenses of any illegal immigrants that helped save people in the wreckage, or helped clean it up.  Personally, I'm more than happy paying tax dollars that help cover their medical bills.  I don't care if they are here legally or not.  

"But... but what if one of them is an illegal Mexican?"

Regardless, the Zadroga Bill was passed (thanks in part to the attention Jon Stewart gave it), and President Obama gladly signed it into law.  That should have been the end of it right there.  The law should have done its job and paid for the rescuers medical expenses.  Well, at least, it would have done that had it been passed in any other country.  But this is America.  

Towards the end of July, the World Trade Center Health Program announced that cancer would not be covered under the Zadroga Bill.  Why?  Because there is inadequate "published scientific and medical findings" that show a link between the toxic environment of ground zero and cancer.  My first thought at hearing this was,  "Who the fuck cares?!  Cover them anyway!  They're heroes!"  

My second thought was a bit more logical.  I decided to look into what kind of carcinogens were at the WTC ruins and, later, how many responders have been struck ill or have died in the past 9 1/2 years.  Here's the stuff that the workers were dealing with:

- Over 400 tons of asbestos (asbestos, by the way, stays in your lungs once inhaled).
- 90,000 liters of jet fuel containing benzene (causes leukemia).
- Mercury from the half a million fluorescent lights (toxic to nervous system and particularly damaging to the kidneys).
- 200,000 pounds of lead and cadmium from computers (bad for respiratory track).
- Polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons that are known to cause lung and throat cancer.
- 130,000 gallons of transformer oil with PCBs that damage the liver and skin.
- Crystalline Silica from 420,000 tons of concrete, sheetrock, and glass (can get lodged in the heart to cause heart disease). 
- Thermite, thermate, and nanothermite is a deadly mixture (the latter two with sulfur) that can cut through steel efficiently.  Do ya think human bone has a chance?

Okay.  That stuff mixed together can't possibly be healthy for you.  I think of it like baking a cake.  A cake that is made with rancid eggs, irradiated flour, and topped off with a lead frosting will not taste delicious, or be good for you, no matter how well you dress it up.  How can anybody read the above list and think, "Gee, I just don't see the correlation between the wreckage and cancer"?

Oh, those toxic fumes look absolutely delicious.

The statistics of the first responders are a little bit harder to find.  What is known is that roughly 950 of them have died since 9/11, and a rather small percent of responders (~30%) have not been struck ill (yet).  There is an alarming rate of bone marrow cancer, lung cancer, asthma, leukemia, and general failure of the respiratory system in firemen and policemen.  How is it possible that the WTC Health Program would knock cancer off the list of diseases it will cover?

It's scary, really, how easy the image of a big-time insurance executive with a wad of cash comes to mind, handing the money over to a group of people that are in charge of helping thousands of others.  "Don't cover cancer," the exec says.  "And there will be more in it for you where that came from."

Well, you know what?  

Fuck you.

I urge you all to take the time to watch this quick nine minute video.  It might make you sick.  It will most likely piss you off at the legislative branch.  It could make you cry.  But watch it, for me, and let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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