But there are also dire warnings that doing too-little-too-late about global warming will mean the world will be overrun both by floods and drought. So, as our prophet George Carlin might have said, Don't sweat healthcare.
The good news is these alarms are only based on the belief that our politicians are unable or unwilling to make the tough, unselfish decisions needed to save the future. The bad news is that appears to be a valid premise.
As fundamentally important as it is, the global warming drama is still not worth watching. Right now the best show in town features our esteemed leaders thrashing around on healthcare.
On one side, we have Republicans. Their only motivation is taking down President Barack Obama by sabotaging any reform, no matter how urgently it’s needed to turn back a national crisis. Now we can witness them throwing childish tantrums because they haven't been entirely successful. So far.
On the other we have the Democrats, so desperate to avoid humiliating defeat that they make devilish deals just to come up with something, anything, they can pass and pass off as healthcare reform.
Let's give the devil his due. Even though the insurance and pharmaceutical oligarchs will still be in charge, some of what's left in this legislation might make a teeny bit of difference. In fact, let's rename the measure and officially call it the Better Than Nothing Healthcare Act of 2009 (actually, make that 2010, because it won't be finished till next year).
Whatever. The largest chunk of it won't take effect until 2013 or 2014.
Excuse me, but didn't someone say we had a crisis here? Three or four years? That is plenty of time for the corporate bullies and their lobbyists to unravel whatever improvements might get in the way of their revenue.
This assumes that whatever gets out of the Senate is not further gutted in the treacherous negotiations ahead with the House of Representatives. The House passed somewhat different legislation, and now the two bills will have to be reconciled.
Be very afraid. This is fertile ground for further mischief, which could well mean that what finally emerges will be an even emptier shell.
The apparent goal is to have the remnants ready before President Obama delivers his State of the Union message.
Given the actions this year, or lack thereof, on healthcare and global warming — and the economy, for that matter — maybe, if he is being brutally honest, he can begin with another line from George Carlin: "The future will soon be a thing of the past."
Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.