september 2009

Dunce's Corner


Investor's Business Daily
August 11, 2009

The debate—if you call it that—on healthcare reform was really spinning out of control last month, and there are far too many examples of dunce-like behavior by opponents resistant to any change and often propped up by the insurance companies to boot. But when the respected Investor's Business Daily goes off the deep end, you know someone's asleep at the wheel in the newsroom, or there's an agenda being pushed in the executive suites.

So it was that an error-riddled July 31 editorial pontificating about healthcare reform included the startling assertion that "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

Oh, lordy, lordy.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein summed it up neatly in his August 12 column: Sigh. You could write some long response to the rest of the lies and distortions in that IBD editorial, but the more appropriate reply is to just warn people against ever reading the editorial page in Investor's Business Daily. It's not just that they didn't know that Stephen Hawking was born in England. It's that the underlying point was wrong, as you'll note from the continued existence of Stephen Hawking. They didn't choose an unfortunate example for an accurate point. They simply lied.

British resident Professor Hawking, diagnosed with ALS in 1963 while a doctoral student at Cambridge and treated by the National Health Service, offered an editorial comment in response, telling The Guardian, "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

shIDB attempted a clumsy do-over by removing the Hawking reference from the online version of the editorial with a note stating, "This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK."

Not a word, though, mind you, about the Professor being kept alive, by his own admission, courtesy the NHS. The gutless wonders on the IDB editorial board simply cannot bring themselves to acknowledge any positive outcomes of a government-run health system (they are similarly dyspeptic about Medicare, we assume).

We believe the British have one word for IDB: Wankers!

Meanwhile, Professor Hawking continues to work and think in realms far beyond those accessible to most humans, his intellectual vitality providing inspiration to untold numbers of people, disabled or no. Eagerly promoting space exploration as intrinsically linked to the survival of the human race, the Professor took a zero-gravity flight in 2007, the first quadriplegic to do so, and for the first time in 40 years moved freely without his famous wheelchair beneath him. Plus, he's cool enough to have been on The Simpsons. Here, here!

Get flash player to play to this file

Sir Stephen Hawking MBE discusses his guest star role on The Simpsons.

'Where there is life, there is hope'
Get flash player to play to this file

A fascinating interview with Sir Stephen Hawking on an Israeli TV show hosted by Yair Lapid in which he discusses his personal life, his thoughts on the existence of God vis-a-vis the theory of scientific determinism, his views on the unrest in the Middle East, and the 'nuisance' of celebrity. 'Where there is life, there is hope,' he says.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024