Saturday, February 02, 2008

not ready

Public health officials say the US isn't ready for a pandemic influenza outbreak. They are of course right.

The health care system as it exists now runs very much on a just-in-time system. That's OK when things are normal. But that would break down rapidly if the number of patients needing care rose dramatically.

There is no profit to be made in preparing for a pandemic. It's a classic market failure. And it's a clear example of where government should step in and be prepared. But in Republican America, there is no interest in doing anything like this. After all, that would require acknowledging the blessed Market is not all-powerful and all-wise. And it would require acknowledging there are a few things only the government can do.

And we can't have that, can we? Better to whistle in the dark and hope there is never another case of a new-to-humans influenza virus making the leap from birds or pigs to people. After all, 1918-19 is so long ago, right?

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