Window of Opportunity

When it comes to the possibility of pandemic, to prepare ourselves at home is wise, but to take the fight to the source is brilliant. Today affords a window of opportunity to do both.

The weak first-world response to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa has been criticized since mid summer by apolitical groups like Doctors Without Borders. The case of the late Mr. Duncan has America reeling, and today’s announcement that a health care worker in the hospital where he died having been diagnosed with Ebola has escalated the talking point politicalization of this public health issue.

We still have a window of opportunity to use our collective assets effectively. Let’s get smarter here and more aggressive there. This is a “war” worth fighting. NOW. We cannot wait for the Congressional lobbyists to figure out where the profit lies in this call to medical combat. This window of opportunity to “fight it there” will close. Soon.

window of opportunituy

Another Inconvenient Truth

You may not approve of how Mr. Duncan arrived in Texas, but you can join me in thanking him for exposing our disjointed public health system. He died this morning. But our collective concern about a less than impressive response to communicable disease is NOW alive and well, in part because of the risk he brought home from west Africa. Influenza (now linked to CNS damage in children), dengue fever, and yes, ebola, are all public health risks. There are many more.

The days of ‘government small enough to drown in a bathtub’ spawned mischief like the sequester cuts and the bumper sticker notion that there is ‘no such thing as a good tax’. County health departments across the nation, our first line of defense from and response to public health threats, have been cut or eliminated as a part of the clever crusade of “right sizing”. While it may be fashionable to think public health is not really a public concern worthy of public funding, the predictable outcomes are the result of neglect.

IMHO a ‘good tax’ is one that is an efficient and effective use of our collective resources. I think it is time for the no-good-tax people to ante up.

another inconvenient truth

This is Not Your Father’s Ebola

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We have all seen the recent question,  “which is the bigger threat: ISIS, climate change or ebola?” Let’s change that question. Which threat is more profitable to multinational corporations? The actions by their lobbyists should answer that question.

There is big money to be made as long as the military industrial complex can be stoked by “wars on”. Climate change is for another day, after all the cash is milked from the petrochemical cow. By comparison, ebola is barely on the legislative radar.

Infection numbers are expected to rise from the current 6,000 reported cases (estimate to actually be 20,000 by The World Health Organization) to 1.4 million by January if we don’t change course. (1) The US has promised 100 field hospitals but will barely staff one. The funds expended by non-governmental organizations like Doctors Without Borders is coming from the Gates Foundation and The World Bank. (2) Facts updated just today paint an even more grim picture. (3)

If the serially defunded World Health Organization isn’t your preferred source, the Centers for Disease Control has reached the same conclusions. Important people are talking, but not enough people are in a position to act. (4)

Ebola has a 50 – 70% kill rate and infects a high percentage of those exposed. And while the situation is currently limited to post-conflict, almost “failed” nations, to believe that Americans do not face similar shortages of health care services in “medically failed” regions of the US would be a serious mistake. (5)

Add to this inadequate ability to respond to public health issues the fact that there are currently multiple strains of the disease and the real risk should begin to reveal itself. To paraphrase an auto ad from a few years back, “this is not your father’s ebola”.

My answer to the original question: ebola, climate change, ISIS in that order. And you?

  1. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/ebola-toll/article20737218/
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/health/Ebola-Doctor-Shortage-Eases-as-Volunteers-Begin-to-Step-Forward.html?_r=0
  3. http://www.ecns.cn/2014/09-28/136537.shtml
  4. http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/health/health-alert/2014/09/25/ebola-conference-george-washington-university/16225255/
  5. http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/a-reserve-workforce-can-help-fight-ebola-1.1390173

Image thanks to theglobalmail.com

Elect candidates that don’t bow to Big Biz.

Taxes have been lobbied down for Big Biz with no regard for the long term consequences. Our elected have allowed it. America needs to elect candidates who don’t buy in to this racket.

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When business faces a genuine tax liability, the choice is to either use dollars to reinvest in the business or to pay taxes. It makes good business sense to choose to spend on facilities, equipment, supplies, and even wages and benefits because this is not shareholder money, it is tax money, redirected to improve American productivity.

But for too many big businesses tax liability has become a myth, theoretically “high” but performing “low” by industrialized world standards. Loopholes, subsidies, and low rates reduce the incentive to spend internally. Our power grid is failing, our internet is the slowest in the developed world, and placing new stores or factories takes local incentives – to name a few consequences.

And many businesses that cannot lobby their way out of taxes are hit as hard as wage earners in this out-of-balance scheme.

Without taxes in the equation, improvements in the means of production, a long term strategy, are at shareholder expense rather than taxpayer expense. And we all know about what is important to the few shareholders-that-matter on Wall Street: short term gain.

Post Card Tsunami

The same five Supreme Court Justices that brought US the Citizens United decision have taken the next step toward the gentrification of American law. They continue to interpret the constitution as though it favored those of means. What to do? From the comfort of your own home you can send them a postcard an share your dismay.

Address side:

Chief Justice Roberts
Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito and Thomas
1 First St NE Washington, DC 20543

Message side: (this is just what my postcard said – say how you feel) don’t forget the black edges (a sharpie will do)

Postcard Tsunami copy 2

The Two Faces of Hawk Talk

Situations in Europe would have us revisit the debate, “Democracy v Stability” as we consider our role in international affairs. Today I am asking, “what kind of stability?”

‘American leadership through the threat of force’ is consistent with a ‘maintenance of the status quo’ notion of stability, but currently fails any sustainability test. The very same who believe America should be ever ready to flex muscle do not support any viable means to fund their intentions.

These Hawks appear happy to spend tax dollars but reluctant to ask those who fund their campaigns to pay taxes. So, while top private and corporate earners have far more skin in the game than most, they pay proportionately less into the kitty than a kindergarden teacher.

In compensation for these opposing values, Hawks embrace austerity to justify the abuse of American warriors: enlistment promises are broken; the wounded are brought home and then left behind; and funds are found for new war planes but not for hand sanitizer for the remotely deployed. By now we should all know that austerity is a costume worn by too many at the masquerade ball we call American politics today.

As long as Hawks burden breadwinners and protect cake eaters The People must resist their chest-beating racketeering.

TwoFaces

Image thanks to rapgenius.com

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