Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Spotty Thinking

Spotty Thinking
©2015  Ross Williams

A few thousand people have contracted measles out west, originating from the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, probably from an unimmunized tourist who had the disease and then came into contact with unimmunized Americans in the close quarters of the long lines for Mister Toad's Wild Ride.  C'est la vie!

In this day and age and in this country, measles is more annoyance than anything and, since the advent of HIPPA and Obamacare, a labyrinth of paperwork and an overly costly treatment regimen.  But still, who wants measles?

Throwing gasoline on this ember of semi-social panic is the faux libertarian Republican Senator with presidential aspirations from Kentucky, Rand Paul.  He announced last week that forcing immunizations upon everyone but those with religious exemption is not the business of the government.  He claims it should be each individual's choice — in the case of children, the individual child's parents' choice, I suppose — whether to immunize or not.  He cited as support the thoroughly anecdotal connection between those mandatory immunizations and the onset of autism.  This connection is seen very clearly by Playboy bunny and sometime actress Jenny McCarthy and a handful of those often seen wearing tinfoil hats, but very few others.  Their argument is highly post hoc in foundation and entirely speculative in causation, and as such I tend to scoff and impolitely backbite those who offer it in public.

Yet, autism is very much a first-world medical condition, arising in just the last several decades.  Second- and third-worlders don't get "autism spectrum disorder" and it's not from lack of looking for it, either.  So either something causes first-world children to develop autism in the 2 to 3 year age range, or autism is a maliciously fabricated diagnosis contrived by self-serving doctors seeking to place their names in the Diagnostician Hall of Fame or pad their medical practice with a steady flow of languishing patients.  Don't believe that medical science would stoop so low?  Let me just throw out a few letters: A D H D.

I'm willing, at this point, to assume that autism is indeed real; the questions, then, for anyone who wishes to actually eliminate it rather than rake in money on perpetual treatment of it are:
1] why do first-world children get it and second- and third-world children do not?
2] see question 1?
3] see question 1 again and answer it this time? and finally
4] once you've answered question 1, can you please stop doing to first-world children what you do NOT do to second- and third-world children and which makes those first-world children develop "autism spectrum disorder"?

In the end we may well find that the method of brewing first-world vaccines does indeed cause autism [second- and third-world vaccines are gotten with manufacturing methods cast off by first-world vaccine makers several decades ago], just as Jenny and her legion of loonies have speculated — shrilly, at the tops of their lungs, to all who would listen and even many who would have preferred not to.  Anything is possible at this point.

Hence Rand Paul's declaration that the government has no place mandating immunizations and it should remain voluntary because "he's seen" too many children suffering "debilitating mental disorders" as a result — he is apparently smitten by the ex-quasi-Mrs Jim Carrey.  Because I'm a libertarian [a real libertarian, and not the Republican comb-over that the Pauls represent], my first stop at determining whether the government has a place in the discussion at all, let alone any authority whatsoever, is Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution.  And … nope, I don't see a power of Congress in preventing communicable disease by any method.  And because Congress doesn't have the authority, the 14thAM says the states don't either; the states were incorporated into the Bill of Rights just as all the pseudo-libertarians of the Libertarian Party claim did not happen.

Conclusion: ain't the government's business, at any level of government.  Rand Paul is correct on this, his anecdotal reasoning notwithstanding.

Regardless, Paul's position on this has caused an epidemic of "medical establishment" and Liberal political backlash.  I find it ironic to the point of hypocrisy that Liberals, the self-declared political philosophy of freedom of choice in this nation, would be against the freedom of choice in the matter of childhood immunizations.  It couldn't be that they want choice only for themselves and that everyone else must submit to government intrusion, could it?

Perish the thought.

And the argument put up by the medical establishment is full of as many intellectual holes as Jenny McCarthy's anti-vax reasoning.  Celebrity doctors are calling Paul's voluntary communicable disease vaccination stand "irresponsible".  My question is, why?  They're doctors; they know better than to make such statements.  …or perhaps, since they're only celebrity doctors, appearing only on television news shows and holding no office hours and having no patients, they have gotten so out of scientific practice that they no longer know better.

In any event, the "vaccinations cause autism" theory is not widely held, and the vast vast vast majority of parents would end up immunizing their children anyway; the anti-vax cohort is, at last count, a significantly smaller group than the Christian Scientist sect which is religiously exempt from mandatory vaccination programs.  In the mathematics of socio-political policy-making, we are discussing statistical noise here.

Children not immunized from these once-dangerous-but-with-modern-medicine-merely-annoying diseases will be susceptible to measles and diphtheria and pertussis … and those who are immunized will not be, and it will be a self-contained outbreak among the nonvaccinated; the general population will be safe.  Serves them right … right?

…unless, of course, those who were immunized are still susceptible to these communicable diseases, in which case we must consider the notion that perhaps the vaccinations aren't as omnipotent as the self-serving medical establishment [not to mention the self-serving, bloated and imperious government] makes them out to be.  If vaccinations aren't effective at preventing disease and it becomes "irresponsible" to deliberately not immunize because the risk to the immunized general population is too great, then [and I shall pull a method of proof from the Global Warming gang] the merest possibility of vaccination causing autism is justification enough to not simply leave vaccination voluntary, but to eliminate it altogether.  By force, "regardless of cost", if we are to complete the Global Warming thought train down to their Pascalean caboose.

The latest I've read, the Disneyland measles outbreak came back to Arizona with an American vacationer, and there are now something like 8,000 cases [or suspected cases] of measles among the vaccinated Americans in the Grand Canyon State.  If I've done my math right, the ratio of infection among the immunized population in Arizona is just about the same as any "under-developed" world outbreak of the same disease among the never-vaccinated.  Which suggests either that vaccines don't work to begin with — in which case it is neither responsible nor irresponsible to refuse vaccination and "Doctor" Sanjay Gupta is blowing fart gas — or the effectiveness of vaccination wears off over time, in which case an argument for booster shots every quarter century or so can be made.  If "Doctor" Sanjay Gupta was a true medical professional he would have made that argument instead, and left his tear-stained tirade off the public airwaves.

I'm willing to accept that medical science does not irretrievably have its head up its own ass even if its talking heads on television do, and that vaccines work although they may wear out.  But, since I'm still a libertarian, and there is still no provision in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution granting the US government the power to mandate it, and because the 14thAM limits the states' power to those powers granted to the US government and therefore the states cannot mandate it either, getting those quarter-century measles boosters must remain a voluntary thing.  Any measles outbreaks will thereupon be confined to those who:
1] don't get immunized at all for whatever reason, and
2] those who don't want to get their boosters.

And … serves them right.