• February 13, 2016

Failure to launch or failure to fix? - MyEasternShoreMD: Kent County News

Opinion Failure to launch or failure to fix?

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am

There's a phrase that's become so popular in recent weeks, it's re-clichéd: "failure to launch."

Failure to launch? Apollo 1 was a "failure to launch."

In January 1967, three astronauts were killed while training for the first Apollo mission, in their capsule, on the launch pad.

NASA's plan, of course, was to go to the moon. But not without taking small steps first.

Veteran astronauts Edward White II, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee were picked as the first crew to take an Apollo capsule into orbit. Instead, they died in an accident.

The disaster was so severe that President Lyndon Johnson spoke to the nation about it on TV.

It's a shame that NASA closed down the program. Maybe, someday, we'll get to the moon.


Oh, wait. We did get there. In July 1969, the late Neil Armstrong hopped onto lunar soil. In November, another crew did the same.

Then, on April 11, 1970, NASA launched the Apollo 13 mission from Cape Canaveral to make lunar landing number three. When part of the spacecraft exploded, the crew abandoned the landing. They managed to come back safely on April 17.

NASA decided that any other attempts to land on the moon were too risky.

It's a shame. Maybe, someday, we'll get back to the moon.


Hold on. NASA did keep going. There were four more lunar trips and four more landings in the following 2 ½ years.

There's a moral to ponder. Complicated things run into problems. It has little to do with the amount of money spent to get the job done and a lot to do with taking time for fixes. More than two years went by between the fire and the landing. In the following 2 ½ years, there were six flights and five landings.

So when our member of Congress sends out an email entitled "Obamacare's failure to launch" it might be time to apply a little perspective. Nobody was burned alive. No spacecraft was destroyed.

The problem isn't problems with a complicated computer network. To verify subscribers' information takes more than a web page.

The real problem would be pretending bugs and design mistakes aren't there.


Speaking of pretending something's not there, look at Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Our representative in Congress has probably racked up 50 votes to kill off the Affordable Care Act. He certainly joined in to shut down the government over, yes, the three-year-old health insurance law.

And yet the Shore counties are among the least healthy in Maryland. Don't take my word for it. Call any county health officer.

That should be the scandal, because the real problem is pretending the Shore has no public health problem or that preventive medicine does not work. Preventive care through the ACA is the first step in healthier residents.

Now, is going without coverage just a big-city phenomenon? Six of the nine counties from Cecil to Worcester nearly match Baltimore City's rate of 14.8 percent uninsured. All six have more than 14 percent without health insurance. Talbot County is close behind with 13.5 percent.

Cecil and Queen Anne's, meanwhile, fall just above 10 percent.

Percentages don't tell the whole story. It's a big number and some of these folks are your neighbors.

The U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 estimate is 58,000 uninsured people, younger than 65 years old, living on the Shore.

Making the total local, it's like having three Kent Counties where no one has health insurance or preventive care.

Let's make sure that gets fixed.

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