Politicians would have you believe that it is their duty to prepare for everything, regardless of the cost and regardless of whether their preparations are likely to be needed in the future. They consistently emphasize how bad things could be if they don't act now and take more of your earnings. Yet as much as they take dollar after dollar from my paycheck and yours, they never seem to be very prepared for events that do occur.
Now politicians feel it is their duty to plan for an avian flu epidemic. Avian flu is certainly a danger, and it has proven to be fatal when contracted. The strain of avian flu in 1918 killed 675,000 people in the U.S. Shouldn't we be worried?
Not all doctors think so. According to a recent article, "The fear 'is very much overdone, in my opinion,' said Dr. Edwin Kilbourne, an emeritus professor of immunology at New York Medical College, who has treated flu patients since the 1957 pandemic and has studied the 1918 flu. The bird flu, he said, is distantly related to earlier flus, and humans have already been exposed to them, providing some resistance. Scientists also say that the death rate may not be as high as it appears, because there may be some milder cases that have gone unreported."
Additionally, a number of things have changed since 1918. We simply don't die from as many diseases as people did back then. Penicillin wasn't available in 1918 and wasn't widely used until the second World War. There was no cure or vaccine for poliomyelitis, generally shortened to polio, which continued to kill and paralyze people in the U.S. until the 1950s.
If the government truly believes that avian flu poses immediate danger, it would allow people to research and produce vaccines and treatments without imposing a lengthy and costly FDA approval process that serves to discourage new inventions in medicine. We don't have to look far to recognize that the market consistently outperforms government when it comes to anticipating and preparing for real danger.