For somebody so out to lunch on so many issues there is something undeniably likable about Ron Paul. As congressthings, he and Dennis Kucinich (there’s an odd couple) had the clearest and best positions on the Iraq debacle. And as a principled libertarian (there seem to be some big chinks in Paul’s libertarian armor — like reproductive choice — but his passion is undeniable), there is something admirable about him. It almost makes you forget his principles are self-centered, wrong-headed and inhumane. Little gnome-like figures aren’t supposed to be that unfeeling toward others. Anti-science views, though, are par for the course.
Yes, I know he’s a doctor. At least he says he is, although he doesn’t seem to know much about medical science. Maybe the Birthers can show me his diploma. Because when I hear his views on the pandemic, it sounds like he’d have trouble passing high school biology. Granted he’s 74 and high school biology has changed a bit since the days before the double-helix. But still, would any scientist who engaged his brain before opening his mouth say this about swine flu:
Paul says reports of 1,000 U.S. deaths from the H1N1 may be true but come from the same federal government running the vaccine program and remain unverified.
And anyway, the doctor asks, is that really such a “catastrophe” worthy of declaring a national emergency as President Obama did last weekend? The onetime Libertarian says that last winter, 13,000 Americans died from the regular flu, which he says few people mention while approving of a vast new wasteful federal H1N1 program that then fails.
Paul says he also believes there is much to be concerned over natural immune systems “being knocked down” by immunization. And he has criticized some previous immunization programs for actually endangering those receiving the vaccine. He does admit, however, that the polio vaccine wiped out that dreaded disease during his lifetime.(LA Times)
Ron Paul is a New Ager? Immunization is knocking down our “natural immunity”? I guess the immune systems of the million plus children under the age of 5 dying of vaccine preventable pneumonia didn’t get a chance to read that before they failed their operators. That’s too bad. Maybe it was an antibody deficit, since deficits seem to be the root of all evil in the Ron Paul’s world of self-reliance and don’t-give-a-shit about anyone but yourself. As for the declaration of national emergency, it was declared for reasons that you’d think Paul would approve of (if he bothered to check): to allow hospitals to disregard certain federal regulations that could be counter-productive in a pandemic setting (e.g., not being able to construct flu clinics more than a short distance from the main hospital).
Of course in Ron Paul’s world every move by government is a power grab. For example, providing pandemic flu vaccine to people for free, thus by-passing the sacred market mechanism:
A medical doctor himself, Paul, who at 74 is older even than John McCain, sees the Obama administration’s oft-delayed H1N1 swine flu immunization plan as typical of many government-run programs — poorly planned, overloaded, inefficient, too expensive, late and quite possibly not even necessary.
Just another government grab for more federal power . . . Paul calls this year’s vaccine distribution “a total failure” because some 120 million doses were to have been available by mid-October and only about 10% of that were.
I’m struggling to understand the reasoning. It’s a failure because it “didn’t work” but if it had worked it would have been a dangerous power grab. And where were the 120 million doses supposed to come from? The government? That might have been better than the actual source, Big Pharma. In reality, if there was a failure here, it was in Big Pharma’s unkept promises. Paul would probably say we should have let the market supply the demand. That would have produced the vaccine. But in reality we would (literally) be waiting for doomsday because the drug companies wouldn’t make vaccine without the government guaranteeing they would buy it. I realize that’s a big no-no in the Paul’s Book of Mortal Sins. But no one is forcing anyone to be vaccinated, while if Paul had his way, no one would have the opportunity to be vaccinated, whether they wanted it or not.
Unlike “Dr.” Paul, some of us trust the evidence and think there is value in the vaccine and intend to be vaccinated ourselves, recommend it to our patients, friends and families and encourage the general public to do the same. We think the evidence is good that it will save lives, when we finally get some (and there is more available every day).
But Ron Paul couldn’t care less about the evidence. It’s not about that. It’s about how things are supposed to work in Ron Paul’s Alternate Universe. Who lives or dies as a result is secondary. Maybe that’s what it means to be a principled libertarian.