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Why Ebola spread in Dallas: Americanism

Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good Government, 1339

We’re number one.  That’s what we always tell each other.

We have the best health care in the world.

Our public safety institutions are number one in the world.

We  are the richest country in the world.

We are supremely over confident.

How many people know that when Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol returned from Liberia with ebola that their care was paid for by Samaritan’s Purse?  I’ll bet a lot of us just assumed that the US government picked up the tab for the flight, biocontainment units, ZMapp doses and hospital stays.  Not so.  So, who is paying for the transport and treatment of Nina Pham and Amber Vinson?

Probably a few more of us have questioned whether money was behind the shoddy care that Mr. Duncan got in Texas.  I have.  I’m betting that his lack of insurance and status as a foreign national had a lot to do with why he wasn’t immediately isolated when he first came to the hospital and why he was left in the ER for hours, some nurses say days, before he was transferred to a critical care unit.

As for the best health care in the world, the nurses were very unprepared for ebola.  The biggest chunk of the blame goes to the hospital.  It’s a hospital for the middle class and those who can afford the best health care in the world.  That’s where people go to have their babies and bypass operations.  Maybe they didn’t associate their kind of hospital with an epidemic in a third world country.  Bad things happen to THOSE people over there in Africa.  Not their kind of people in Dallas.  At best, that’s a benign form of American narcissism.  We’re so used to having clean water and streets and good food.  So, why should the hospital get all Girl Scouty and be prepared for a situation that will never happen to it?  Training for such an eventuality takes time from nurses doing their duties and time is money.  It’s the American way.

The CDC seems to have vastly overestimated the outcomes of our educational institutions, especially our K-12 schools, where everyone should have a pretty good understanding as to where Liberia is.  But then again, Liberia was a state created by former American slaves in the 19th century and Texas is a state notorious for trying to rewrite the past when white Americans might have done bad stuff to anyone.  But still, don’t these ER intake people, nurses and doctors watch the news??  At least one nursing supervisor seems to have been on the ball and insisted on moving Mr. Duncan to an isolation unit instead of letting him shed viruses all over the ER but she was shot down by her administration.  Still, you’d think that a hospital so concerned with its reputation and profits would have been more proactive in limiting the damage that his presence was causing.  Not so, apparently.

And what was the hospital thinking when they gave antibiotics to Duncan when they hadn’t bothered to find out whether he  had a bacterial infection that required them?  Does Texas Health Presby Hospital routinely overprescribe antibiotics?  Is this a hospital or a student health center?

What were Republicans and Democrats thinking when they cut the budget for the CDC by 12% and the NIH by 20%?  Friedan said yesterday that $30 million was restored earlier this year in an “anomaly”.  How the hell are you supposed to prepare for emergencies if you never know what your budget is going to be from one year to the next?  We complain about administrators making decisions for our health care instead of physicians but our bigger problem is that we have politicians making decisions for our disease fighting institutions.  Should the CDC and NIH know in advance what diseases are going to become epidemic on some kind of 5 year plan and ask for the right budget money in advance?  Or are their functions compromised by their unreadiness brought on by this reckless political posturing?

And everyone, politicians, journalists and people who should know better, is under some mistaken belief that the private sector is going to step up and perform the tasks in research and disease prevention that the CDC and NIH were created to do.  But they’re too busy trying to reap profits for the shareholders to engage in such money sucking activities like research. Meanwhile, we underfund the NIH and CDC.  Is that so Republicans can point to what a sh*%%y job government does?  Are they paying no attention to how our scientific infrastructure is being dismantled in this country and concentrated on a few narrow therapeutic areas?  They are leaving a gap that no one is able to fill.

This may be the richest country in the world but the riches are hoarded by some pretty selfish individuals and we don’t seem to be able to get our act together to force them to give up their loot for the greater good.

A little ray of hope came through yesterday when I saw that some television content providers are breaking away from the package deals offered by cable companies to allow viewers ala carte channel selection.  That’s great because eventually I will no longer have to subsidize right wing propaganda from Fox News or be forced to pay for Fox to mislead unsuspecting American viewers.  I’m betting that a lot of like minded individuals across the country will drop Fox from their lineup the second they are able to do it.

But the damage may already be done.  The Senate may fall into Republican hands this November and in the next two years, the predators who have been stalking us since FDR got us out of the Great Depression will finally be able to finish us off.   The willfully ignorant elderly and angry white males will finally stick a fork in us, and allow the extremists to carelessly destroy Social Security, roll back women’s rights and plunge us back into recession with unrestrained austerity.  The only thing that will stand between the power extremists and us will be Barack Obama.  That right there is a very depressing scenario.  But maybe he will have the courage to stand aside when we finally pick up our torches and pitchforks.

We have been living a myth of our greatness.  We’ve been in denial about how government works.  We have told ourselves lies about how we can “starve the beast” that once made our country a formidable force of good around the world.

I’m only glad that the ebola crisis here will be under control before the next session of Congress begins and before the gung-ho, American exceptionalists who take over show us just how unexceptional we are to the hunters who prey on the young, old, and weak.

Section from Lorenzetti’s Effects of Bad Government, 1339


More speculation and budget numbers at Angry Bear Blog.

26 Responses

  1. Not only is this Ebola Czar not a doctor ….

    According to CNN, This new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain was in charge of Al Gore’s Florida Recount team. …. What kind of credential is that?

    He should be in prison for that fiasco alone.

    • Why do we need an ebola czar when we could have a Surgeon General?

    • How about we appoint a Surgeon General?

    • According to CNN, This new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain was in charge of Al Gore’s Florida Recount team. …. What kind of credential is that?

      That’s their little joke …who even knew anyone was in charge of that? James Baker was coaching the other team for real

      Really I thought I was reading the freaking Onion …an Ebola Czar,??!! What is next? ” A Blue Ribbon Panel ” of political hacks?

      A political czar is for when you want something to go away in the press…can anyone point to a successful one of the MANY czars we have had? The name does not even belong in a supposed ( ha!) democracy

  2. From Angry Bear Blog,

    ““NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,’” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

    It’s not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.”

    • The mantra that NIH does all the research and industry just makes the stuff is really harmful. Both parts are necessary but it would be a grave mistake to assume that industry does no research. That’s why Collins had such a problem getting a vaccine. NIH can only do so much without a private industry partner. If all those partners would rather make expensive antibody treatments for cancer or chronic life time therapies for orphan diseases, where does that leave the NIH on a limited budget?

  3. A French teacher, newly arrived from France with her IBM executive husband, questioned me about the general education level in Silicon Valley. She said that she had traveled a lot, but this was the first place when asked where she was from by strangers, she got the response “Where is France?”

  4. A friend who works for the NIH has told me that
    7 percent of their budget last year was taken away and used to
    help “fix” the Obamacare roll out debacle. This played havoc with
    the research of a lot of people.

    • Ayep, this whole CDC defunded ***because Republicans!!!*** lie is going to unfold and RIGHT before the election. I will laugh. Our politicians have been sucking money out of real causes to cover their political hineys for quite some time. Obama may or may not be the worst but he is certainly one of the great offenders.

      • Um, that’s not a lie. All you have to do is go back and read Paul Ryan’s budgets. We include Democrats only because there was so much pressure to go along to get along that they were the ones stupid enough to suggest a sequester.
        Republicans are not good people. We need to face this fact.

  5. I’ve been told for seemingly decades now : fight for Dems , vote them in and they will fight for you …and the fight never, ever, comes. The fight, it seems, always needs yet another election and more Dems…before it can even start… on and on

    The most that can be said about Dems in office is the spread of the budget slashing cancer is perhaps slowed down some …until Mr. O that is…who often gives the Repugs more than even they demanded.
    The Dems of today are Repugs in Dem clothing…and threadbare clothing at that

  6. Many things here. I’ll just reply to a small one. There is more chance of Obama scheming with the Republicans to time-delay destroy Social Security very carefully than there is of extremists being permitted to destroy Social Security carelessly.

    If Republicans take the Senate, Social Security’s only hope is that enough Republicans hate Obama personally enough that they will delay their own anti-SS plans in order to deny Obama the credit for being the Great Historical Democrat who Went To China on Social Security.

    • And indeed, here is a recent post from Naked Capitalism explaining just how and why destroying Social Security is Obama’s Prime Goal, and how and why Krugman issues deceitful cover-up apologetics for his beloved Obama on this and other matters.

      • I expect that Kruggy, and many others like him, simply fear having the scarlet “R” forcibly sewn on their collars. (Also, IIRC, Mrs. Kruggy is African-American.)

        The faction of the Malefactors Of Great Wealth which uses the Dinocratic Party as its vehicle knew what they were doing when they picked a nominally-black retired-BMOC, instead of the usual ofay honky mofo.

        If the MOGW had decided they wanted HRC, they’d have used the same strategy to smear refuseniks, only with “$exi$m” substituted for “r@ci$m”.

        • But they really, really didn’t want HRC, and that says something good about her.

          • Indeed. The Clintons are deeply and forever hated by upper crust on both sides because they seek to leave at least something for the little guy. The Clintons also seek to make government actually work .They also believe in rewarding merit . All these concepts are no nos because they benefit the peon. Everyone else in politics have moved far away from these ideas.

            These very concepts makes the Clintons hated. Many Dems hate them far more than any Repug and many on the Left hate them far more than any Repug. In a good number of blogs Bill is the main villain…oh yeah and that 2nd Bush guy.

            It’s a class thing too. Rich people like the Bushes can tell us what to do, but not some trailer rat from Arkansas and his wife . The fact they are unrelentingly brilliant makes the hate come to a white heat

          • It may merely indicate that $exi$m is stronger than r@ci$m among the (still) predominantly white and male ranks of the MOGW. 😦

          • I think our bloghost has explained why that is. The triggering event was apparently Clinton’s support of a kind of HOLC concept for troubled mortgages and their homedweller-holders. That was when
            the FIRE sector commanders pulled the trigger for Obama.

  7. Looking at how badly democratic governments around the world have responded to our many problems this century, I’m not as inclined as I used to be to see American exceptionalism as our problem. But in health care I’ll make an exception.

  8. Government indifference compounds Ebola disaster

    United Nations officials said Thursday that the UN trust fund for Ebola has only $100,000 on hand, a fraction of the nearly $1 billion the world body says is needed to contain the spread of the deadly virus. While the UN fund has received pledges of about $20 million from various governments, it has received only $100,000 in actual cash deposits, and that from only one country, Colombia….


    Of course the Syrian “moderates” who we cannot identify, just got 500 million from us on top of other millions.they have gotten for four years. Can’t we switch out the name Ebola for ” Regime Change” ? It might help in the fund raising on Capital Hill

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