Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Emergency?

I just don't know how many times chicken little has ventured out; looked at the sky; and declared it falling again. For someone who "ducked and covered" every month or so in preparation for the "bomb" being dropped on us, I can't tell you how many impending, but never happened, emergencies I have seen in my lifetime. It seems as if we, and the rest of the world, are always on the edge of our seats, with sure death just around the corner.

Does anyone remember the vanishing ozone layer and how, by the turn of this century, we would all be in our protective suits to avoid solar radiation. That threat resulted in the elimination of freon as a refrigerant and aerosol spray bottles. Then, there was the Millennium Bug associated with the advent of the year 2000. In that emergency, planes were sure to fall out of the sky; electrical power plants and water pumping stations would just shut down as the calendar moved from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000. Just, 5 years ago, the bird flu was going to kill us all. G.W. Bush stockpiled millions of doses of Tamiflu in that non-existent pandemic. And, of course, there is the ever-presence of Global Warming.

Now, Obama has declared a National Emergency associated with the H1N1 virus (or, also known in "underground circles" as the forbidden-term: "Swine flu".).

Certainly, it is wise to prepare the nation in the event that things get out of control. However, the numbers don't really stack up to the requirement for an actual "emergency" declaration. In the United States, about 1000 deaths have occurred due to H1N1. It is estimated the 1 in 5 have already either contracted the disease or have been exposed to it and the symptoms, in many cases, were either minimal or insignificant. Worldwide, the death toll is about 5,000. However, in a normal flu season, there are about 36,000 who die each year in the U.S. and, worldwide, there are approximately 1/2 million deaths each year. In the countries "Down-Under" (Australia and New Zealand), they have concluded this year's flu season with very few ill effects. By all accounts, this is not a "killer" virus; although, children seem to be at the highest risk for death.

The only problem that I have with the declaration of H1N1 as a National Emergency is that it could, unto itself, create panic in the minds of many. Then, that panic could result in an unnecessary swamping of our heath care system. I really think that Obama should have gotten in front of the cameras and explained what he was doing. Instead, he simply signed the declaration and the news media had to fend for itself to try and figure out what this "emergency" declaration really meant. When you think about it, this whole thing was so un-Obama. In any other situation, Obama would have gladly stuck his nose in front of the cameras. But, in this case, there was no teleprompter; there was no news conference; no doctors in lab coats; no nurses holding syringes; there was nothing! He didn't even use his Saturday radio address to explain it. This, to me, makes no sense at all. Couple that with the benign effects of this flu and it makes me think that this emergency is being used for some other reason. Then, I keep going back to the words of Rahm Emanuel who said: "Never let a good crisis go to waste." I guess it's the conditioned skeptic in me that seems to think there is something else afoot here. I hope I'm wrong and that this emergency declaration is just what it is; and, nothing more.

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