Hey, cynics: You really gotta get out more. For instance, you really should have caught some of the Homecoming festivities in Payson last weekend — and maybe taken in a soccer game or a band competition.
The young people in this community have done us proud this past week.
The underrated Longhorn boys soccer team completed a miracle of a regular season, with ties and victories facing teams with lofty state and national reputations.
We hope you’ll all turn out to cheer them on this Thursday for the first round of the playoffs against Camp Verde. The plucky team that doesn’t know its place has an outside chance of winning a state championship this year, for the first time in Payson history. The hard work, mental toughness and pugnacious persistence those boys have demonstrated ought to inspire us all.
But wait: There’s more. The Payson Longhorn Marching Band excelled this weekend in a competition in Prescott, securing a place in the state band championships in two weeks. The band staged an ambitious and complex routine, complete with stretches of original music composed by Payson band alumnus Michael Armstrong. The 50 band members spend hours every week, mastering their instruments and practicing their intricate and creative routine.
Enough to make even the most jaded of cynics sit up and take notice.
The energy, creativity and dedication of the young people of this community went on display in countless ways, including the convincing win by the football team, the breathtaking stunts of the cheerleaders and the enthusiastic support of the parents.
What great kids. They did their jobs this week, making us all proud. Now we’d best do our jobs — and do right by them. Don’t forget, there’s a school board election playing out in the next two weeks. Moreover, education remains a central issue in state and national campaigns as well as the bottom-line concern for several propositions.
You’ve done us proud, kids.
We’ll try to live up to your example.
Deadly toll still rising
A disquieting new study has underscored the terrible waste of a campaign we’ve suffered through when it comes to the urgent need to reform our medical system.
The study showed that Arizona voters saved many lives when they approved the expansion of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System in 2001.
Voters agreed to allow impoverished adults to get coverage, even if they didn’t have children. The federal government foots most of the bill for AHCCCS, but requires the states to cover only women and their children living below the pathetically low poverty level.
Mind you, AHCCCS provides health care for about 30 percent of our friends and neighbors. About a quarter of the AHCCCS budget cares for impoverished residents of nursing homes.
So what happened when Arizona expanded its AHCCCS program? It saved lives, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The expanded coverage cut death rates by 6 percent in Arizona, New York and Maine. The study dovetails with national estimates suggesting that the lack of insurance for some 50 million Americans causes about 45,000 premature deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Tragically, the Arizona Legislature has revoked that life-saving expansion of AHCCCS. In Gila County alone, hundreds of adults and at least 400 children lost health insurance coverage as a result.
But we’ve heard surprisingly little about the grim toll the lack of health insurance extracts every year. The presidential debate remains fixated on Medicare. The state legislative campaigns seem stuck on a quixotic effort to seize control of federal lands.
Although the Affordable Health Care Reform Act will provide a dramatic increase in insurance coverage, it will do little to control the spiraling cost of health care — which remains the crucial underlying problem. By the same token, the Republican tirade against ObamaCare has so far failed to include a single realistic alternative solution to this lethal national problem.
So as the campaigns spin off into irrelevance, the death toll mounts.
What a waste of a campaign.