Ed Hauser’s death was a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. It was a death that should not have happened. In many other countries it would not have happened.
The circumstances of his death may be the reason many more will die today and tomorrow.
Ed died because America doesn’t have the decency to protect its own citizens with the health care that’s basic in all other industrial societies.
As Mike Roberts wrote recently of Hauser in Cleveland Magazine, “The town could use a few more good men like Ed Hauser.
“Hauser is a pain – a persistent, nagging, unyielding pain. On the medical scale of one to 10, he would rate a 10. What makes him so painful is that he challenges the way the town and its dysfunctional government work.”
Hauser saved (for the time being anyway) Whiskey Island – named so because it housed an early distillery – from being gobbled up by the Cuyahoga-Cleveland County Port Authority. The island – which really isn’t an island – sits on Lake Erie immediately west of the Cuyahoga River. His unyielding work to keep the island from development earned him the title of “Mayor of Whiskey Island,” and the tag of honor, “Citizen Hauser.”
Hauser attended Port Authority meetings, demanded documents and even videotaped its meetings.
He was the burr that wouldn’t go away.
It cost him his health.
So the richest nation in the world couldn’t or wouldn’t save Ed Hauser.
Here we sit in Cleveland, Ohio, the home of the famed Cleveland Clinic but Ed Hauser waited too long to get medical help. He died waiting. I don’t blame specifically the Cleveland Clinic but it definitely is an institution, as they say when a crime is committed, “of interest.”
Our corporatized society likes to keep costs low. Ed was one of the casualties of that policy. Even when the auto companies are drowning in debt, they aren’t in the vanguard of demanding university health care, which would relieve them of huge costs.
As Sen. George Voinovich pointedly said of President-elect Barack Obama, he’s a “socialist.” That’s an ideological position, one that fits corporate think.
The kind of thinking that denies many Americans even minimum health care.
How many Ed Hausers are there? We know there are tens of millions of them without proper health insurance, thus without proper health care.
The U. S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that 47 million Americans were without health insurance, a figure rising each of the previous seven years. With the recession a year old that figure likely has rising considerably.
As the economy continues to deteriorate there will be tens of more millions soon.
Ed has received many deserved plaudits for his selfless work as a citizen activist. This is fine and proper.
There are other Ed Hausers out there who do similar work, maybe not as doggedly or as persistently as Ed has.
Cleveland also is the home of some of the large and well-funded foundations.
I think there ought to be at least some interest in funding activists who monitor government agencies. However, the great foundations don’t seem to gravitate to this kind of citizen action.
That costs people like Ed Hauser. It costs us, too, because there really is no citizen regulation of the very bad behavior of our business, political and civic life in Cleveland.
December 18th, 2008