Southern Style: Come on, Scrooges

November 4, 2010 Updated: November 5, 2010

ATLANTA—When I saw the vast black SUV about to T-bone me, I thought it might be the end of the line. Obviously it was not, and in minutes a team got me out of my suddenly C-shaped car and to a good hospital. The wreck happened in north Georgia. Had it happened in the rural south, I might have needed to travel a long way for medical care. That region lacks trauma hospitals.

There was a ballot measure Tuesday to fund a network of trauma hospitals for south Georgia. The measure would have added $10 to the annual ad valorem tax for each car. Voters rejected it.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution quoted a voter who said words like, we already pay for their childrens' education, why do we have to pay for their hospitals, too?

First of all, there is no such thing as “their children.” Every human being is responsible for future generations.

Second of all, $10 a year? Are you kidding? Probably any person who can own a car can squeeze out $10 a year to save somebody’s life.

Dickens invented a character for this voter. His name was Ebenezer Scrooge.

Probably we all know the story, but for those of you from another planet, he was a miser who learned that his life would be greatly improved by the addition of a little generosity.

Georgia has about 15 trauma centers, and should have 25-30, according to Georgia Magazine. About 700 people die each year in Georgia because they are too far from a trauma center to get care during the “golden hour” after a severe injury.

Hey brother, can you spare a 10 spot?

The limited government idea, I get it. Smart people with good intentions might find this a good thing. Thrift, frugality, I totally get. Waste is sinful, extravagance is unwise.

But some virtues become vices when they are carried too far. We have to have some feeling for the common good. Some generosity. It’s not all about taxes. Rich people should give money to help others, as Bill Gates does, with his Gates Foundation and as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman just did, with his $100 million gift to Newark, N.J., schools.

But taxes are part of it, and are a way ordinary people can be generous, too.

I do not understand people who have no children who find it outrageous that they pay taxes to support schools. We all benefit from good schools, in tangible and intangible ways. If your neighborhood schools are excellent, your property values will be excellent too. Good schools turn out the compassionate, skillful people who patch you up after a big SUV T-bones your car.

Good schools turn out people who do research and think the issues through before they vote. Bad schools turn out people who would rather clench their fists around $10 than save a stranger’s life.

Bad hospitals are not able to handle complex injuries. Nonexistent hospitals definitely cannot handle them.

When I learned a majority of my fellow Georgians were not willing to fund rural trauma care, I thought Scrooge had ascended. These hard times are all the more reason to try to look out for each other.

“You can't throw money at every problem and solve it, but you can save lives by supporting trauma hospitals. Money should never be the difference between life and death—if it is, we think far too little of life,” wrote Donna Hambrick, of Savannah, Ga., on a website supporting state funding for trauma care.

Mary Silver can be contacted at

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.