One predictable consequence of Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's deep cuts in the state's TennCare health insurance program for the poor and uninsured: because the program still covers women with cervical cancer and Tennesseans under 21, a 52-year-old man who recently lost his TennCare prescription coverage is accusing the state of age and sex discrimination. His name is David Atchison, he suffers from "nerve damage that leaves him in constant pain," and without coverage his medications cost over a thousand dollars a month. Lawyers say he has no case, because there's no law requiring the state to cover anybody, let alone everybody.

Some now appear quite happy that the debate, instead of centering on why it's so difficult for our affluent society to look after those who can't afford to look after themselves, is now focused on whether and why TennCare discriminates: whether 18-to-21-year-olds are really "children," as the program calls them; whether cervical cancer is worse than prostate cancer; who deserves coverage more, kids or the elderly. The idea seems to be: throw the people a few crumbs, and they'll scratch each other's eyes out scrambling after them.