For folly, billions; for survival, pennies

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Instead of cutting budgets for public health, we should be spending billions more annually, not only at home but also abroad, where disease threats can be stopped at their source. The World Bank estimates that the first year of a flu pandemic would cause at least $800 billion in global economic losses, but other estimates run into the trillions. So perhaps our "fiscal conservatives" can think of public health spending as business insurance, rather than as liberal do-gooding that merely saves lives.

Lavishing billions on war (and war profiteers) while shortchanging health is right-wing idiocy at its worst and most destructive -- and we may soon pay an intolerably high price for it.

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