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by Walter Brasch
More than 230,000 cases of the Swine Flu have been confirmed world wide. About 2,100 persons have died. As much as one-fourth of America's workforce may be infected by Swine Flu when it peaks in Winter, according to studies conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC scientists isolated and developed the seed strain of swine flu. Working furiously to manufacture the vaccine are five major drug companies, which received about $1.8 billion in federal funding to produce the anti-virus. Leading the testing, analyses, and education campaigns about the swine flu, in addition to the CDC, are the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Federal Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in addition to the Department of Health and Human Services, which developed the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza protection.
Testing of the vaccines on human subjects is being done at eight major U.S. universities and hospitals, which received federal funding. The federal government is also providing about $260 million in grants to state health departments to give the vaccine at no charge to people who do not have insurance or whose insurance does not cover vaccinations.
In several European countries, which are producing about 70 percent of all vaccines for a worldwide population, most research and production is being funded and carried out by government agencies.
But if you listen to the multi-millionaire conservative bloviators of talk radio and Fox News, or the shrill screeching of a minority of tea-baggers and conservatives at dozens of town hall meetings, you hear one theme. These right-wing loonies say they don't want the government involved in health care. No government. Get government out of their lives. Government is evil! The well-orchestrated campaign against health care reform focuses upon shouting over any attempt by members of Congress to present the truth about health care bills. Apparently, they believe the health care crisis is a sports game; whoever shouts the loudest to drown out everyone else gets the most points.
If these harpies of the right are all-so-determined to stop universal health care, if they don't want the government in health care, then I have a couple of suggestions.
First, because the baggers scream "socialist" at anything they don't approve, they should refuse to accept Social Security or Medicare when eligible. If they're veterans, they should refuse any VA medical programs, and reject any disability income.
Next, when the swine flu vaccines are ready for distribution in Fall, the opponents of health care reform should refuse to be vaccinated. That's right. They need to stand by their principles, and not get the vaccines. After all, by their bastardized strain of logic, anything with a government stamp on health care must be suspect. They may even believe the massive public education campaign by the federal government is just a scare tactic, that the vaccines—primarily researched, tested, and funded by the federal government—may even be part of a secret conspiracy by the federal government to control Americans' minds and make everyone Communists.
Nevertheless, whatever their beliefs, when the Swine Flu vaccine is ready, the opponents of the "intrusion" of the federal government into health care just need to say "NO"! but don't say "no" for the rest of us.
Walter M. Brasch is a university professor of journalism, social issues columnist, and the author of 17 books. His current book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available from amazon.com, bn.com, and other stores. The book was a winner in the politics/social issues category of USA Book News awards, and a finalist in the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group awards. His weekly column was this year's winner in contests sponsored by the Pennsylvania Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists; his column received honorable mention in competition sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Forthcoming in September is the critically-acclaimed third edition of Sex and the Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website, www.walterbrasch.com
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