Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tammy Bruce needs a fact checker. Immigrants are not a serious infectious disease threat.

Tammy Bruce claims (“When foreigners bring disease across the border”, Washington Times 1-25-16) must be based on “malevolence” because she can’t possibly be that ignorant regarding infectious diseases, their origins and the risk they pose to Americans from illegal immigration.
First, her history regarding the flow of illegal immigrants is incorrect.  During President Obama’s Admiration illegal immigration has declined each year since 2008 and are now at the lowest level since 2003.  The percentage of undocumented immigrants likewise is at its lowest point since the year 2000.   A new report by the Pew Research Center shows a drop of nearly a million unauthorized immigrants between 2007 and 2014. According to Pew, this is the first time since the 1940s that Mexicans have left the US at a greater rate than they have entered.  A newer survey by a New York think tank, the Center for Migration Studies, shows the number of illegal immigrants at 10.9 million.
Second, the return of Measles to our shores by foreign visitors wouldn’t be a problem if Ms. Bruce had promoted increased US aid levels for global immunization efforts to eradicate that disease.  Increased funding for WHO and other global health efforts would also save us money and worry.   According to WHO ensuring clean water alone to all the world’s people would eliminate half of all the world’s infectious diseases.  Providing adequate nutrition, access to basic health services, and safe sanitation to all the world’s poor would do even more to protect Americans from infectious diseases.  Instead spreading miss information that like war, only perpetuates and exacerbates the spread of disease to every corner of the globe, perhaps she should go even further than Trump and demand closing the US border to all foreign visitors.   That would stop the inflow of diseases, except for those brought back by American returning from foreign vacations, wars, relieve work or business trips – or birds, or imports of food and beverages, and just about anything else capable of carrying an undetected bacteria or a virus.
Third, the Polio like virus that infected “over 100 children” “in 34 states” was likely a mutation of the regular polio virus that the world targeted for eradication by the year 2000, then 2003, then 2010, but is still struggling to defeat because of failure of US foreign policy to make its eradication as high a priority a priority eradicating WMD from Iraq.  The longer we fail to prioritize global polio eradication the more likely another strain will arise and spread globally.  The current vaccinated populations won’t be immune to the new strain and instead of just completing the original global eradication campaign in the last 3 nations it still resides, every nation will need a new campaign, once an effective vaccine against the new strain is developed -- and globally distributed.  Again, total global cooperation and investment of adequate funding will be essential.  But again, something Ms. Bruce and her Fox News listeners reject – our government financing of more humanitarian aid and the United Nations specialized agencies that deal with development, disease control, peacekeeping, education, nutrition and environmental protection.
Ms. Bruce and her followers should not that the greatest achievement in human history was the global eradication of Smallpox.  Small pox killed more people (mostly children) in the last century than all the wars, revolutions and genocides combined.  Americans were spending over $150 million a year vaccinating our own children until a one-time investment of just $32 million into a ten year UN led global eradication effort that succeeded in 1971.  By 1997 (according to a GAO study) US  taxpayers had saved over $17 billion dollars because of that one-time investment!   Yes. You read that correctly.  Seventeen Billion US dollars saved…by investing just $32 million globally.  That savings would now be about $25 billion and it continues to grow each year there is no threat of Smallpox.  FYI: It was George Bush’s decision to invade Iraq that required a multibillion dollar effort to bring back smallpox vaccinations just in case Saddam Hussain had a weaponized version the Soviet’s had created before their government crumbled.  Bush’s campaign to vaccinate our troops and first responders failed because the diluted vaccines he used caused some unhealthy reactions.  The horrific news is that the vaccine dose offered wouldn’t have worked against the weaponized strain that may have been in Saddam’s arsenal.  If Bush’s preemptive ‘shock and awe’ military attack had accidently released the virus the world today would be far worse off than it already is. 
Fourth.  Vaccination levels in most of South and Central American are not that much different than ours, and in some cases better. 
Last but no least, new and re-emerging infectious diseases coming into the US are not new.  Nearly a dozen prestigious uncontested scientific, military and bipartisan reports over the last 23 years have well documented this growing trend and what needs to be done.   We still haven’t done it.   Earlier this month the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future issued its final report.   Ms. Bruce should have read it before wasting her time and the Washington Times valuable paper space with erroneous accusations like “these scourges only re-emerged with a vengeance after Mr. Obama’s open border chaos began in 2014”.
Beyond ignorance and/or malevolence of Ms. Bruce and others like her, our greatest danger is our persistent failure to recognize the fact that we live in an entirely interdepended world with hyper globalized movement of goods and people.   We can no longer afford to rely on national sovereignty in the form of independent governments and agencies to stop microscopic threats that have no respect for our worship of walls, passports and airport metal detectors.  


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