Monday, November 8, 2004   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Even though Washington is spending billions of our tax dollars to defend "The Homeland" from a biological attack by foreign terrorists, our leaders were asleep at the switch on the need to defend us from a biological assault that everyone knew was coming: The flu.

This is a deadly matter, for flu kills about 36,000 of us every year! Yet the White House and congress were totally unprepared when a British factory that supplied half of our flu vaccinations was shut down because of contamination. This gross failure of leadership means that millions of Americans will not get the shots they need this winter and many will die as a result.

This crisis is the result of rank incompetence and ideological stupidity by our political leaders. Of course, these so-called leaders are now trying to dodge their responsibility, claiming they couldn't have known about the contamination at the plant. Hogwash. The problems there were widely publicized months ago. Also, this is the second year in a row that our vaccine supply was botched. It's been a crisis waiting to happen...and now it has.

But the real cause of the failure to protect our public health is Washington's insanely irrational pursuit of privatization and laissez-faire theory. Washington ideologues tied our nation's health to the profit whims of only two of the corporations that make flu-shots, neither of which are even in the U.S. Other nations are not facing a flu-shot crisis, because they wisely get their medicines from many sources.

Well, sniff the politicos, U.S. drug makers don't find flu-shots a profitable enough business, so what could we do? Hello, gooberheads it's time to admit that the profit motive does not always serve the public interest, especially on health care issues. When corporations fail to meet the need, government must.

This is Jim Hightower saying...People should not be dying because politicians are more interested in protecting their ideological purity than in protecting public health.

"Why is the United States so unprepared for the flu?" Austin American Statesman, October 12, 2004.

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