Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mr. Ropeik’s Hive

Earlier this week the LA Times published a disturbing vaccination-related op-ed entitled “Public health: Not vaccinated? Not acceptable” by a one David Ropeik. Mr. Ropeik, an instructor at Harvard and member of the public health intelligentsia, operates a consulting firm specializing in “risk communication.” Not surprisingly, a list of his consulting firm’s clients reads like a who’s who of the vaccine establishment. He is, or has been on the payroll of these vaccine-dependant organizations:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • State of Florida Department of Public Health
  • State and local health officers of Arizona
  • The Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Massachusetts Department of Public Safety
  • State and local health and public safety officials of Utah
  • The National Academy of Sciences

So what’s the message he’s crafted to further the Machine’s agenda? It’s a simple one: Those who don’t vaccinate are enemies of the people and the people must rise up against them through the power of the state.

In his article; a piece brimming with collectivist concepts, words and phrases such as the public, society, public health, the community and the common good; Ropeik assembles a litany of ineffectual arguments to assert those having no interest in vaccination are enemies of society, the state and the common good. And that those people must be molded, pressured or nudged to fit the requirements of the collective.

Oddly, Ropeik, whose piece centers on those who don’t vaccinate, begins with a question (which appears repeatedly throughout the piece) that has nothing to do with the unvaccinated. Ropeik asks:
What does society do when one person's behavior puts the greater community at risk?
Put society at risk? The unvaccinated put no one at risk. Infectious illnesses have been transmitted between people since time immemorial. Therefore, the decision to remain unvaccinated can only withhold potential protection from others, not put them at risk. And no one has an obligation to undergo unwanted medical treatments to provide theoretical protection to others.

Ropeick, nonetheless, in a futile attempt to create the illusion that the unvaccinated do put people at risk, continues with a fusillade of bad analogies. Let’s examine each and discover why they are completely irrelevant to the vaccination debate:
You don't get to drive drunk.
No, because you are acting and creating a risk that otherwise would not exist. When you don’t vaccinate you’re neither acting nor, as we’ve already discussed, are you creating a risk.
You don't get to smoke in public places.
Unfortunately, Mr. Ropeik (probably a big Mayor Bloomberg fan) is right. In some localities - further along on the road to collectivism than the nation in general - you can’t smoke in a public place such as a park. But to use the folly of others (smoking in a park puts no one at risk) as moral justification for ill-conceived policy is to use the logic of a child: thinking actions can be justified if one can find just one other person who has committed a similar error.
You don't even get to leave your house if you catch some particularly infectious disease.
Well, influenza is infectious (I don’t know what “particularly infectious” is however). But I’m not aware of any law confining those with the flu to their homes. Nor were any quarantines in effect during a pertussis outbreak here in California in 2010. So without further exposition by Mr. Ropeik, we can attribute little meaning to this point and must therefore move on to the next fallacy. (Besides, not being vaccinated isn't, last I checked, an infectious disease.)

With these arguments now disposed of, let's move another point Ropeik attempts to use to further his agenda: the issue of cost. He states:
When a woman from Switzerland who had not been vaccinated for measles visited Tucson in 2008 and became symptomatic, she went to a local hospital for medical attention. This initiated a chain of events that over the next three months led to at least 14 people, including seven kids, getting measles. Seven of the victims caught the disease while visiting healthcare facilities. Four people had to be hospitalized. The outbreak cost two local hospitals a total of nearly $800,000 [four people at 200,000 a piece? Really?], and the state and local health departments tens of thousands more, to track down the cases, quarantine and treat the sick and notify the thousands of people who might have been exposed.
Later he laments:
Outbreaks are costing the healthcare system millions of dollars, and local and state government (that's taxpayer money, yours and mine) millions more as they try to chase down each outbreak and bring it under control to protect the public's health. Your health, and mine.
But is it the governments role to “chase down” outbreaks? And if so does the government need to chase down every outbreak and should it do it with an unlimited budget? Let’s look at this example to help us decide.

Imagine a movie or TV show in which a woman on a plane, unbeknownst to her, has contracted some type of “superbug” against which no one is immune, death is likely and transmission is easy. The woman is unaware of her state yet infectious. In this case, due to the circumstances described, the government should act. The woman is creating a risk to those with whom she comes into contact whether she knows it or not. So yes there are cases when the government should become involved with infectious illnesses.

In the example Ropeik describes, a small measles outbreak, the case for intervention, while plausible, is not nearly as strong – and it certainly does not support the use of unlimited resources. Here’s why. A woman with the measles would enter into a highly vaccinated population; if there were no vaccine, she’d enter into a population high in natural immunity. And the measles is, as illnesses go, mild. Finally almost everyone disturbed by the news of an outbreak would have access vaccination.

One final factor influencing the decision to act is whether or not the intervention could be expected to help. For example, because of the ubiquity of the flu, quarantine and tracking would be a pointless task.

On the other hand with few cases of the measles, it’s possible that government interventions could help – although I’ve seen no evidence that all the money spent to supposedly “contain” measles outbreaks have had any effect on the course of those outbreaks.

What about the astronomical costs of hospitalization? Surely that’s the fault of the unvaccinated.

Ehh…not really.

The astronomical costs of hospitalization, and of healthcare in general, are largely products of a series of government interventions dating back to the early 1900s

The “healthcare system” of which Mr. Ropeik speaks is a government monstrosity apparently created with the purpose of driving healthcare costs to absurd levels.

Here are some of the government-created factors involved in the meteoric rise in the price of medical care:

· The AMA's government-granted medical monopoly

· FDA over-regulation

· Medicare and Medicaid: two enormous entities both rife with waste and abuse

· Insurance industry regulations mandating unwanted coverage and limiting competition between companies

· The countenancing of frivolous multi-million dollar lawsuits that compel doctors to practice "defensive" medicine

· The controlling of where and how many hospitals can be built

Finally, as to hospitalizations, without detailed information (rarely provided by public health officials) I have to question a measles-associated hospitalization rate that far exceeds any past utilization numbers.

Regardless, the costs incurred by a government engaged in it’s legitimate function does not countenance the violation of the rights of the American people – if money is a problem within the current system, your only solution is to dismantle that system. And if you’re not willing to do that, stop complaining.

This brings us to the punishments section of this piece. Ropeik opines:
Perhaps there should be higher healthcare and insurance costs for unvaccinated people, or "healthy behavior" discounts for people who do get vaccinated, paid for from what society saves by avoiding the spread of disease.
I’m not sure if the insurance industry is clamoring for his opinion regarding how they structure their premiums. But if he’s so concerned, perhaps he should buy an insurance company. Then he could decide what to charge his customers.

And healthy behavior rewards? Sounds like mandatory exercise and approved menus - unless you want to be nudged with 50% higher premium.

Besides, it's quite possibel those who do not vaccinate utilize the “health care system” less frequently than do vaccinators. So perhaps their premiums should be lowered. Either way let’s let insurance companies themselves decide and keep the do-gooders out of it

The errors in logic conclude when Ropeik returns to his original point for the umpteenth time calling for the “government to do what it's there for in the first place: to protect us from the actions of others when as individuals we can't protect ourselves.”

Astonishingly, Ropeik still fails to grasp the fact that not vaccinating is NOT and action and as such violates no ones right to protection.

So the choice is ours (at least for a little while longer). Do we accept more pressure, coercion and punishments and allow hired “communicators” such as Ropeik to lead us deeper into the hive of collectivism or do we think for ourselves, seeing the messages emitting from the vested interests of vaccination for what they are: contrivances manufactured by the Machine in order to persuade us to accept its agenda. Think carefully America, for as John Adams once said, "Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."