Washington State, like many other states, in deep in a budgetary crisis. This is largely, of course, due to the economic catastrophe that is envoloping the nation (GDP down 3.8% in 4Q 2008? Yikes!) Exacerbating the crisis is the cowardly leadership in Olympia, where Governor Gregiore, browbeaten by the anti-tax nuts, has pledged to pass a budget for the upcoming year with no new taxes. Which sounds great on the face of it until you consider that taxes pay for things.
Things that will not exist if the government didn't fund them.
Take, for example, the Washington Poison Center.
Now I've ribbed them in the past, not entirely fairly, but I need to say this publicly: the Poison Center is an absolutely essential service and a critical element of emergency care.
- You find your two-year-old kid sitting on the kitchen floor with an open bottle of Windex in front of him -- who do you call?
- A patient comes in with an overdose of three different drugs the ER docs have never even heard of -- who do you call?
- You splash an industrial solvent in your eyes and need to know how to decontaminate and whether to go to the ER -- who do you call?
Well, in Washington, you may not have anybody to call any more. Gov Gregiore, cutting an apocalyptic swath through all the state's social services, has halved the funding for the Poison Center, which will result in the end of the poison center's hotline services. So when someone comes to my ER in 2010 having ingested a massive amount of home-made colloidal silver, (yes, we really saw that a few years back and they were as blue as smurfs), we will have nobody to call for management advice and will have to muddle by with whatever we can find on Google.
If you are inclined, there is a page on the WA Poison Center web site explaining the crisis and providing links for the public to contact their legislators to avert this cut.
And when you hear the anti-tax activists braying about our taxes being "too high," make sure you ask them which essential services you are willing to live without. If you live in Washington, you may be about to find out.