Saturday, January 09, 2016

Shame on Tom Davis: the Cost of Being Wrong

I sometimes contact my representative and senators, but not often.  Never did before I retired.  I think the first time I did was to write Tom Davis, the Republican who was then my representative, supporting the idea of authorizing needle exchanges, perhaps in DC, perhaps nationally.  This was in the late 90's, when AIDS was still a terror. Congress had banned funding for needle exchanges and for research on needle exchanges.

Davis was a moderate Republican, who'd work across party lines, though shortly after I think he became chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign committee.  He later retired at a relatively early age.  He's well respected for his knowledge of politics and has often been interviewed on TV on various issues.   All in all, he was the sort of Republican who might have supported needle exchange.

But he didn't. He wrote back with an explanation of why he couldn't support the proposal.

It's now close to 20 years after my letter.  Congress, controlled by Republicans, has just removed the ban on funding needle exchange programs (see this fivethirtyeight post).  There's no telling how many lives were cost by the decision not to research exchanges.

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