Gary is an author, trial lawyer, Mequon-area resident and town of Cedarburg supervisor. He is a columnist for the News Graphic and writes for several Wisconsin area magazines and is a national columnist with The American Thinker and PJ Media. He lives with his wife, Lisa, and has three sons ages 18 to 28. Gary won Ozaukee County in his bid for the Wisconsin Assembly's 60th District in 2011, but came up just 58 votes short.
Last month, over 1000 people stood in the rain for hours at Cedarburg High School, waiting for the H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine. The long, slow-moving line was reminiscent of scenes from the 1973 Charlton Heston movie Soylent Green and was thebeginning of what is expected to be the largest mass vaccination in decades. Alongside the huddled masses walked Cedarburg resident Mike O’Keefe holding a large plywood sign which read, “Welcome To Government Health Care.” Clearly, Mike O’Keefe gets it. He realizes that a national health care overhaul will lead to more long lines like those at Cedarburg High School.
In July the federal government said they’d have 120 million doses of the vaccine by October, but only 27 million doses were available. If a private company ran a vaccination operation this poorly – whether underestimating the number of flu shots needed, an inability to deliver the appropriate number of vaccines, or simply requiring people to stand in the rain for three hours – the person responsible would be fired. As of Tuesday, only 407,000 doses of the vaccine had been allocated for Wisconsin, a state of 5.6 million people, according to state health officials. If government-run health care ever slips through the cracks, this sort of debacle will become commonplace and even more tragic. Waiting hours for a vaccine is one thing – waiting months for life-saving treatment is quite another.
The fiasco merely served as the backdrop for one crisis after another which our state-run media and current administration appear to crave in order to justify a need for their big government agendas. In today’s electronic age, just about everything is magnified, hyped, and placed under the worldwide microscope for all to panic over. One cannot forget the famous words of Rahm Emanuel, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Not a day goes without the novel H1N1 virus making the news feeds resulting in ominous headlines such as "H1N1 Infects Entire Country Per CDC" and "H1N1 Deaths Up" – which are only two from last week. One could be led to believe we should hole up in our homes, bar the doors, and tape shut any possible openings.
The facts regarding H1N1, or "swine flu", tell a different story however. Basically, it is another influenza virus like the run of the mill seasonal flu that is identified each year, but which is targeting a slightly different population with its complication rate. Whereas older folks are most affected by complications from the seasonal flu, the H1N1 flu virus affecting more younger people (ages 20 to 60), pregnant women, the obese, and immunocompromised individuals (AIDS, MD, cystic fibrosis). Out of an estimated U.S. population of 310 million, the CDC website has identified 4,958 laboratory-confirmed 2009 H1N1 hospitalizations and only 292 laboratory-confirmed 2009 H1N1 deaths through October 10, an average of less than 6 people per state. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 74 countries have officially reported 399,234 laboratory-confirmed cases worldwide, including 4,735 deaths.
While the 4,735 worldwide deaths caused by H1N1 are tragic, this must be put into proper perspective. Compare that number with the 674,000 people who die from the measles every year – in developing countries alone. Smoking kills 5 million people annually and the hazards associated with the occupation of fishing kills 24,000 fishermen worldwide every year. Over 32,000 people die every year from adverse reactions to prescription medications and 7,600 from taking aspirin.
An epidemic is defined as an illness or health-related issue that is showing up in more cases than would be normally expected. However, in the case of a pandemic, even more of the population is affected than in an epidemic. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 outbreak a pandemic, marking the first global pandemic since the 1968 Hong Kong flu.
The Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1968 and 1969 was a true pandemic, killing an estimated 1 million people worldwide. The Asian flu pandemic was an avian influenza that originated in China in early 1956 and lasted until 1958. It killed 69,000 Americans and over 2 million worldwide. The Spanish flu pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920 and spread to every part of the world, killing an estimated 50 million people – 3% of the earth’s population at the time.
When dealing with media it's wise to remember that they are out to sell papers and the more they can sensationalize something, even if it scares their intended audience, the more we tend to read. With the information now known about H1N1 it seems that the pig flu is no more and no less than the seasonal flu and most everyone who contracts it has a mild course of illness. The problem appears to be more media hype than medical crisis.
Human nature has its shortcomings, two of which are the tendencies of people to panic and governments to overreact. You may recall we had another swine flu panic in 1976. Gerald Ford decided to immunize all 220 million Americans. Four people died from the swine flu that year, three of whom died from the vaccine itself. The shots were linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome. $49 million worth of vaccines were destroyed and $2.64 billion in claims were filed against the government. The cure was worse than the disease.
The real tragedy beyond the few deaths we have seen from the swine flu, however, is the sad but predictable reaction of government to any crisis – real or imagined. States are already preparing for the mandatory vaccination stage of the eugenics program, and Pennsylvania is right on schedule with Pennsylvania House Bill 492, the “Emergency Health Powers Act.” The Pennsylvania legislature is right now debating legislation which authorizes on the basis of one man’s opinion – the governor – forced medical examinations, forced isolations and quarantines, forced relocations, prohibitions of firearms, and forced vaccinations. A person who fails to comply with this section commits a misdemeanor of the third degree. This is a peek behind the curtain of what government-run health care has in store for us.
Last week was significant for something besides the foreshadowing pig flu lines at Cedarburg High School. It also marked the 45th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s October 27, 1964 “Rendezvous With Destiny” speech. We would do well to remember his words:
Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.