Dr. Bill Miller has gone viral for a video in which he slams the President for flying military planes over cities instead of using that money to purchase masks and other essential equipment for front line hospital workers. It's a message that's hard to argue with.
"I read today they're going to have the Blue Angels and the other Air Force flying wizards fly over many cities for the healthcare workers to show their support," he says in the video. "It costs $450,000 per flight over a city, so if there's two of them, that's $900,000. You want to help heathcare workers?" At that point he holds up a mask.
He continues, "These are the N95 masks that we have to deal with. These are painters' masks. Get us equipment. Get us PPE. Get us N95 masks that are worth anything. Get us tests for everybody. OK? Don't fly over something so we can see some crap for $450,000 to make the president look good.
"You want to help healthcare workers? Take that same money and feed the people in the inner city that don't have anything to eat. Help the food care workers who are working. Help the service industry people. Don't fly over and say, 'Oh, aren't they great?' Come on, let's get real."
While flyovers like this don't cost taxpayers any extra money and are "critical training" for Air Force pilots, they are still extremely expensive. According to WCPO, the accurate number is about $60,000 an hour.
As the Quincy Institute tweeted, "Flyovers like this cost about $60,000 an hour, roughly the same price as 60,000 N95 masks or 20,000 of some COVID-19 test kits." It just doesn't seem like the best use of the military budget right now. Not to mention, the people these flyovers are meant to salute mostly can't see them because they're inside... working.
Even if the flyovers are technically important training exercises, COVID-19 is an "all hands on deck" situation. Every resource possible should be funneled into protecting our essential workers while we figure this thing out.
But that's not what's happening. The president is responsible for letting this go on, for letting it get as bad as it has, for nearly 100,000 deaths in the United States. It didn't have to happen like this.
And now, we're applauding people like Dr. Bill Miller, who is at the end of his rope, begging for resources to help keep people — patients and workers — alive. Dr. Bill never should have had to make this video in their first place.
These flyovers ostensibly show their appreciation for those on the front lines right now, but you know what appreciation doesn't do? Save lives.
What does save lives is proper PPE, hazard pay, paid time off, regular payments for those millions who are unemployed, rent and mortgage freezes, and investment in science, none of which there is enough of in the United States.
We can and should thank Dr. Bill and those like him for remaining on the front line, for being so resilient in the face of an utter lack of leadership and compassion. But this isn't what he signed up for. This isn't what anyone signed up for. We could have done better. Our president just didn't want to.