In a recent column, Nicholas Kristof told the story of his friend Scott, who chose to save money by not buying health insurance, and wound up getting prostate cancer. "I was taken aback by how many readers were savagely unsympathetic," he writes in today's New York Times. "Not sure why I'm to feel guilty about your friend's problem," read a typical comment. "I take care of myself and mine." Polls show that attitude is gaining ground, especially on the right, and Kristof thinks it's wrong.
"A civilized society compensates for the human propensity to screw up," he writes. When reckless drivers get in an accident, 911 operators don't tell them to find their own way to the hospital. "To feel undiminished by the deaths of those around us isn’t heroic Ayn Rand individualism. It’s sociopathic." Kristof has seen foreign massacres, wars, and famines, and "they're heart-rending because they're so unnecessary." If those people had been born elsewhere, they'd be alive. When Scott died this week, it felt the same way. Read Kristof's full column here.