October 26, 2014
Ebola, Soda and School Lunches
The U.S. government's response to the Ebola crisis offers a case study on some of the central problems of our times. For many months, anyone possessing an elementary understanding of probability and statistics has known that someone with Ebola would enter the U.S.
What we needed from the CDC was a bit of helpful guidance on how to help afflicted patients while protecting ourselves. In its place, we received a series of anti-alarmist untruths while actual useful information was dangerously neglected. On account of this, at least one person succumbed to the disease (or at least that will be the tort defense of one the Texas hospital).
The panic and confusion of Ebola is instructive in many ways, but there is a lot more to this than simply a series of failures at the CDC. This whole issue is about the size and scope of government.
The current director of the CDC is best known as a public health advocate for leading the ban on large sodas in New York. Today, he is a leading spokesman in an administration that has drastically transformed school lunch menus around the country. So, the Ebola fiasco must be placed in context alongside both of these efforts.
The amount of soda each of us drinks is a wholly private decision and no reasonably decent government should be involved in this decision. This may be why the ban happened in New York, under this CDC director. Likewise, the school lunch menu is simply not a matter for the federal government. It is a matter for school boards, school superintendents, principals, and (most importantly) parents.
That the Feds have mandated menus and food restrictions over the state and local government offers the single most compelling argument for eliminating a whole slew of federal agencies and sending their budgets back to the states as block grants.
Thus the federal government agency charged with preparing us for contagious diseases failed miserably to do anything of relevance. That is neither an accident nor an isolated failure of government. The leaders of this administration wholly reject the notion that the federal government has a limited scope. This disregard for the Constitution has consequences.
Attempting to stem the exposure of Americans to infectious diseases crossing our borders is clearly a federal issue. Here the federal government failed. This was not due to limited resources. The CDC’s annual budget is bigger than all the 2,024 public schools in Indiana combined. Rather it is because they are preoccupied with such matters as the size of fountain drinks and the number of cookies in a school lunch.
The CDC has sufficient resources to address Ebola they are simply misdirected by a failed and ideologically vacuous leadership. Effective government doesn’t just do its job well, but also knows what is outside its scope.
We should offer prayer and hope to those who are sick and give thanks that Ebola is unlikely to infect many in this nation. Instead, our affliction is an over-reaching, costly, ideologically vapid and ineffective federal government.
About the Author
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