Monday, November 22, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

When Mommy Says Yes, but the Nanny Says No!

The do-gooding politicians of Nannystate are at it again. Believing childhood obesity solvable by government edict, the San Francisco city council recently passed a law banning Satan’s tool of epicurean temptation: the Happy Meal.

The story was a focus of a number of media reports. CNN’s Anderson Copper worried of the enormous pressure applied by 3 and 4 year olds to their fragile parents. Coopper imagined a world in which we’re literally strong-armed into supplying a never-ending supply of crispy golden fries, thick frosty shakes and hot, juicy, cheese-laden burgers.

Sadly, assaults upon the ability of Americans to decide for themselves what they and their children eat are nothing new. New York’s activist mayor Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of these efforts, banning transfats, spending scarce city dollars on a crusade against salty soups and proposing restrictions on the purchase of soda. Not surprisingly, our government-happy state is not immune from these interventionist tendencies. In LA, prohibiting the opening of so-called fast food restaurants is seen as the panacea de jour while on the national level, first lady Michelle Obama has embarked upon a messianic quest to transform carrots into childhood’s newest guilty pleasure.

These statists would like nothing more than to have us to believe, absent their “help”, responsible parenting is an impossibility. Turn off a TV selling sugary cereals, unthinkable. Deny an unhealthy request in battleground supermarket, inconceivable. Compete with the influence exerted by a gregarious albeit fictional yellow sponge, unimaginable.

And what has the state been cooking up in it’s own glass house over the past decades? That’s right the school lunch: a grease laden, semi-edible smorgasbord of cholesterol, transfats and chemicals far unhealthier than anything that could have ever been concocted in a McDonald’s test kitchen.

To make matters worse the do-gooders have, this past year, been given a gift to make the realization of their ambitious goals eminently more achievable. The gift of course was and is Obamacare.

How can Obamacare further authorize and invigorate government intervention? As is often the case, one intrusion upon freedom is used to justify another. And with the new health care bill the connection between intrusions is obvious. A health care regime in which the state pays for the result of our “unhealthy” actions is the perfect pretext for allowing that state to control, prohibit or tax, through food and, perhaps someday, exercise policing. Perhaps even a ban on couches, TVs and videogames. How fortuitous that an entity with such an insatiable appetite for growth should receive such a powerful and protean gift.

But isn’t all this intervention really for our own good? Doesn’t the state care for and about us as we would care for and about a pet?

History tells a different tale. A tale in which the government owes its allegiance to, not our children, but the special interests. The corrupt process under which the food pyramid - actually the cheese, grain and beef, pyramid - was constructed is a legendary example demonstrating where state interests really lie.

It’s time we reject out of hand these ridiculous violations of American freedom while they’re still seen and mocked as the absurdities they are. For if we do not, and if we begin to journey slowly down the slippery slope of nanny state incrementalism, we will, before we realize it, end up as did the proverbial frog who, slowly and unknowing, had both his life and freedom cooked out of him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We Don't Want No Stinkin' Vaccine!

Photo Credits: mollypop via Flicker Creative Commons

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Polio: A Disease of Cleanliness

The N.Y. Times is reporting on a large polio outbreak in vaccinated Congo. Wonder if it has anything to do with the area being one of the most highly polluted places on the face of the earth. That pollution couldn't affect the immune systems of the population affected...could it?

An explosive outbreak of polio is taking place in the Congo Republic, with 201 cases of paralysis found in two weeks and 104 deaths, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Gardasil: Unwanted and Unloved

Today we see further evidence that, absent the coercion exerted by the medical establishment and it's government allies, few people are interested in vaccines and vaccination. Businessweek reports:

Few teenage girls and young women are getting the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), and many of those who start the regimen fail to take all three doses, new research reveals.

So if you feel vaccines aren't for you or your family but feel out of the mainstream, remember - as the above story illustrates - the "mainstream" is simply a byproduct of force, misinformation and compulsion.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Guard Against Gardasil

Here's an op-ed I wrote for the Orange County Register in 2007. Since more and more parents are being asked to vaccinate their children with this vaccine, I thought it appropriate to revisit the topic.

In today's America - a country seemingly driven more by its desire for health care than for health itself - an idea has taken hold that every child should receive whatever vaccine that medical science can conjure up. Seemingly unimportant is whether our children are at risk for developing any of the diseases against which the corresponding vaccines promise protection.

The latest of these "necessary" vaccines is Gardasil. Produced by Merck, it is said to prevent HPV, a viral infection spread by sexual contact and the cause each year of approximately 10,500 cervical cancer cases, and 3,500 deaths.

We're told Gardasil, to be effective, must be administered before sexual activity commences - hence the desire to start vaccinating girls at ages 11 and 12.
The millions spent by Merck on marketers and lobbyists convinced the states of Texas and Virginia to require this vaccine as a prerequisite for attending public schools. California, like at least 18 other states, has seen a similar proposal. A bill linking HPV vaccination and public school admittance has been revived by its author and is scheduled for a hearing today in the Assembly Health Committee.

But unlike other mandatory vaccination measures, this one has encountered resistance. Many Americans, particularly Christian social conservatives, are concerned that requiring the vaccination of 11- and 12-year-old girls against a sexually transmitted disease sends the wrong message to our youth.

This rationale I neither endorse nor oppose. My objections are of a different nature. I do, however, believe the religious community's resistance has been helpful to Merck and its government allies. Here's why.

Since, as we'll see, it's difficult to build a logical case for this vaccine because of the preventable nature of cervical cancer, an appeal based on emotion is needed. And how better to stir up more emotion than what could be marketed as a struggle against narrow-minded Christian conservatives whose irrational fears about sex were putting women's lives at risk? Throw in the word cancer, and you have a perfect emotion-based marketing strategy and one that seems to make facts and logic unnecessary.

But facts and logic are always necessary, and, in this case, they speak loudly against the vaccine. Here's what they have to say:
Cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable. Ninety percent of those contracting the disease have not had a pap smear in the previous five years. Smoking increases risk by 200 percent.

Finally, the salvation promised by vaccination does not come without a price. Short-term risks associated with Gardasil include nausea, dizziness, pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The vaccine's long-term health effects remain largely unknown because it has been approved for use for less than a year.

If we mandate this new HPV vaccine - rewarding Merck with a billion-dollar windfall - we'll undoubtedly be subsequently deluged with other new vaccines, each accompanied by a new and unique set of risks to our children in exchange for, as in the case of the HPV vaccine, little to no benefit. We might see a replay of the thimerisol fiasco of the 1990s, when many children were, because of mandatory vaccinations containing that preservative, exposed to levels of mercury exceeding EPA guidelines by 70 to 125 times.

I believe most parents would, based on the aforementioned evidence, choose not to have their children injected with Gardasil. Regrettably, under a statewide mandate, these parents would not be offered a choice.
"But there's an opt-out provision," say the politicians. "No one has to get this vaccine if they don't want it."

Unfortunately, most parents are, based on the number of times I was told "You know, your kid can't get into school without shots," unaware of these provisions, making them meaningless.

Mandatory vaccination with Gardasil is simply a bad idea. Parents must be given real choices, not manipulated into making ones chosen by politicians and drug companies. As for me, the choice is simple. My daughter will be, to paraphrase a certain ad campaign sweeping the state's airwaves, "one less."

One less unnecessary vaccine recipient. And my hope is that California will be one less. One less state swept up in the hysteria of indiscriminate vaccination.