Free Markets, Free People

CDC

To the Shepard Smiths of the world, STFU!

Smith has essentially jumped the shark by lecturing the audience to remain calm and not to believe most of the media hype surrounding the Ebola scare.   And Smith should know about media hype being one of the main purveyors of it during the Hurricane Katrina coverage.  Anyone remember that?  Yeah, me too.

But here’s the point.  I’m remaining calm.  I’m not panicking.  However I am more than a little bit angry about the fiasco, the circus, that surrounds the US case of Ebola.

Here’s a hint about why the CDC has been so blastedly inept in its handling of a single freaking case:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a public-health agency, and public health is an uneasy combination of two very different things: emergency disease containment and nannyist do-goodism. It is a field that exists to save us from the plague and to tell us to drink less soda. To expect the same agency, and many of the same people, to be very good at both of these missions is a lot to ask, and the CDC is much better at the second than the first. Since (thank God) we don’t experience many plague outbreaks, public health spends most of its time on that second mission: preaching the virtues of green vegetables and contraception. So the CDC is for the most part an agency engaged in a kind of low-grade, often silly social activism much of the time. When we confront a disease outbreak or similar public-health emergency, the CDC turns to the other part of its mission, and has an impressive core of experts and resources to call upon in doing so. But the turn is no simple matter, and the fact is we (thankfully) just haven’t had much experience with public-health emergencies on American soil, so the people charged with handling them haven’t had much practice here. It is not hard to imagine how all of this could lead to failures of the sort we have seen.

And who is the head of the CDC?  The same guy who helped NYC’s mayor Bloomberg impose tobacco bans, try to ban Big Gulps and chase your salt use.  That’s right, a “nannyist do-gooder” who hasn’t the faintest idea, or so it seems, on how to address the core mission of the CDC (i.e. the mission for which it was originally formed).  Shouldn’t we be angry and upset about that? After the initial whining by the bureaucrats about how “funding” was a problem we learned about how they prioritized the funding they got (which, by the way, was more than adequate).  It certainly wasn’t primarily spent on the core mission as is now very obvious.

Ever hear of Dr. Nichole Lurie?  Yeah, me neither.  But she is the defacto “Ebola Czar”.

…Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are “to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”

Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, “Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.” A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, “I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.” Still another refers to her as “the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.”

Lurie is the Asst. Secretary of HHS for “preparedness and response, whose job it is to “lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.””

Really?  Where IS she?!  Instead, CNN reports, we’re getting a different Ebola Czar:

President Barack Obama is expected to name Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to two Democratic vice presidents, as the country’s Ebola czar, knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper today.

Klain is a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to former Vice President Al Gore. Klain is currently president of Case Holdings and General Counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore’s effort during the 2000 Florida recount.

Yes, that’s right friends, we’re getting a lawyer and political hack inserted into the mess.

Meanwhile, off the coast of Belize, a Carnival cruiseliner is being barred entry to a port because one of the healthcare workers who treated our Patient Zero is on board (so far no symptoms, thank goodness).  I guess it was too forward thinking to sequester all those workers to ensure they weren’t infected and didn’t pose a threat to others.  I mean, you know, Epidemic Prevention 101 is so 20th Century … or something.

So Shep, STFU.  You’re an overpaid news reader.  Confine yourself to doing that.  Talking about panicking because of media hype is about as hypocritical as anything you can do, given your history.

As for me, I’ll remain outspoken about how poorly this particular event has been handled and continues to be handled.  It is all about ineptness and lack of leadership at many levels and in many bureaucratic agencies.  It is the poison fruit of big government.  The only silver lining in all of this is the media coverage is keeping that front and center for the public to see.

I’m fine with that.

~McQ

Sometimes … most of the time … you just have to raise the “BS” flag

The latest reason for hoisting said banner is this apparent decision by political operatives on the left to blame Republicans for the ebola epidemic.  Because of them, so the meme goes, we’ve had a lack of funding.  And that lack of funding is blamed for the failure to have a viable ebola vaccine.   Per the NIH chief, they’d have likely succeeded in creating an ebola vaccine if only they’d had the money:

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

As the following chart shows, the problem wasn’t money at all:

-kaiser-family-foundation

Since 2001, tons of money have gone toward global health programs.  Tons.  And the upward move was made during Republican control.  So to say his point is BS is to be kind.

In fact, it is likely to have been all about priorities instead, and ebola wasn’t a priority.  Secondly, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it had to do with mission creep.

As The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi writes: “The CDC, an agency whose primary mission was to prevent malaria and then other dangerous communicable diseases, is now spending a lot of time, energy and money worrying about how much salt you put on your steaks, how close you stand to second-hand smoke and how often you do calisthenics.”

These other tasks may or may not be important, but they’re certainly a distraction from what’s supposed to be the CDC’s “one job” — protecting America from a deadly epidemic. And to the extent that the CDC’s leadership has allowed itself to be distracted, it has paid less attention to the core mission.

So money which could have been and should have been dedicated to the core mission was instead spent on ideologically supported nonsense.  Any wonder why “money” wasn’t available?  Because it was wastefully spent elsewhere in the structure of the CDC and NIH.

Gov. Bobby Jindal gives us more facts on the problem:

In recent years, the CDC has received significant amounts of funding. Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose.

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.

Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.

There are the numbers of funds available to the CDC for its core mission.  $3 billion dollars.  Spent on its core mission from that fund? $180 million.  So how again is that the GOP’s fault?

Instead the truth of the matter is we have a bureaucracy with a supposedly single mission (for heaven sake, its even in their name – “Centers for Disease Control”) which has instead done what bureaucracies always do … creep their authority out into areas where they don’t belong (with the approval of the administration, of course), doing things that mostly fulfill an ideological agenda instead of an agenda of real worth to the citizens it supposedly serves.  The money that should have gone toward heavy research into communicable disease threats such as ebola instead went to “fund neighborhood interventions like “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.”

So while we sit here and watch the left attempt this bit of BS (and watch a certain segment of the citizenry lap it up), let’s remember the reality of why there’s no ebola vaccine.  It has absolutely nothing to do with money and everything to do with political priorities.

In this case the priority chosen has put us in a position to be essentially defenseless in the face of a disease for which we should have developed a vaccine by now.  But I bet we have some great bike paths out there.

And that failure, friends, is clearly attributable to the administration in power which is responsible for that shift in priorities.

Utter failure.

~McQ

What Is Happening To Choice?

Freedom’s fundamental principles are choice and the lack of coercion. When you are free you make the choices in your life and you’re responsible for the consequences of your choice. In an authoritarian regime, someone else makes the choice for you and you’re left to obey or be punished. In some cases, you don’t even have the choice to obey – you are forced to comply.

And it is the latter of which this reminds me:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

No. Huh uh. No way.

“Public health officials” don’t get to make those decisions if a free country. There they’d be limited to offering the surgery as an option for the reasons stated, but no more. But “routine circumcision” doesn’t mean it will be offered as an option – routine means it will be done as a part of the birth procedure with or without the parent’s permission.

But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the C.D.C., said that any step that could thwart the spread of H.I.V. must be given serious consideration.

“We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Now, let’s take a broader view of what is being said here by Dr. Kimarx in relation to the health care insurance reform now being considered.

Remember, we’re told, almost daily by proponents of this reform that decisions on care will be left to you and your doctor – correct?

So whose advice is Dr. Kilmarx basing his treatment recommendation on? That’s right his “consultants”. Where are you and your doctor in this decision making process?

Left out.  Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, Kilmarx is talking about keeping both you and your doctor completely out of the loop.

What Dr. Kilmarx is saying is the recommendations of the “consultants” outweighs your concerns and puts you out of that decision making cycle. Or, said more succinctly – they don’t care what you or your doctor want, they’re going to direct that “routine circumcisions” be a part of the birth procedure and they invoke an “epidemic” as the reason for this “intervention”.

So, given this is just the CDC, imagine what those government officials charged with providing “evidence-based medicine” for everyone will be putting out as directives that get between you and your doctor. And don’t forget, Obama is a great fan of “evidence-based care” as he noted at one of his pep-rallies townhalls on health care insurance reform.

What you’re seeing from the CDC is only the very tiniest of tips of the iceberg if government is put in charge of health care. Allowing the government to dictate forced circumcision would only set the precedent for what we all fear government run health care would bring. It may not seem to be that important of an issue, but it is.

This isn’t the government’s choice to make or direct. And it never should be.

~McQ

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