Tuesday, January 04, 2011

It's just kinda crappy

I am increasingly disturbed by this "Every man for himself" mentality I see pervading America. For one thing, it seems like absolutely no one can ever say anything to anyone else because the other person is assumed to "know best". New mothers with absolutely no experience or education about babies or child care are told not to worry because "it's your baby and you know best." It is a scientific medical fact that breast milk is superior to formula, and doctors tell women who choose formula that they know what's best for their babies.

Same with choosing not to vaccinate. Call me naive, but wouldn't doctors, with their supposed superior knowledge of anatomy, nutrition, and health know better than some woman with nothing but gestation on her list of accomplishments? And the fact is that not vaccinating a child hurts other children, too. Not every immunization takes hold. Some kids who have gotten the measles shot can still catch measles later. But if every kid is immunized against measles, then the disease doesn't have enough targets to spread to and dies out. It's called herd immunity and it's what eradicated polio. But with the anti-vaccine crowd comes a resurgence of diseases like measles. And some kids whose parents did vaccinate can get sick. Now, it used to be that you could explain this to people and they'd care. Their sense of social responsibility would kick in and they'd not want to be the one who took down half of Timmy's fifth grade class with pertussis. But now they don't care. Other people's kids aren't their problem. Every man for himself.

Twenty years ago, if a parent felt that the school system was inadequate, they went to the principal about it, or the school board, and made a reasoned argument as to why the class needed new textbooks or that the teacher might need to rethink their approach. But now, to Hell with all the other kids in the class, we're home schooling! Don't worry about improving things for other kids, let their parents do it if they want to. Every man for himself.

In the fifties, the "golden age" that all the big conservative pundits like to ramble on about returning to (before gay people and black people and poor people, when apparently everyone was a white WWII veteran and even the TV sets saw life in stark black and white), no one let their neighbor die for lack of health care. If Mrs Jones had cancer and there was a treatment for it that she couldn't afford, schools held bake sales and churches took up collections and neighbors pitched in. If you could afford to help, you did. And if you couldn't afford to help, you helped in another way. But you did not argue that the woman needed no help because your family had good insurance and you had worked hard for your money and it was downright socialist for anyone to expect you to help or even care. But now . . . it's unfortunate that Mrs Jones is sick and you really hope things turn around for her but she should have gone to college and gotten a job with better insurance, but it's not your fault that she didn't and you have your own family to worry about. Every man for himself.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I love your blog, Charlie... but generally don't comment even though I would often love to discourse with you about some of these things. Mostly because even though I'm stalking your blog, I'm trying to pretend like I'm still respecting your privacy. =)

I've been thinking about this post for a few days now, because I generally feel the same way. Interestingly, was listening to Science Friday on NPR today, and this topic was right on point with this post: http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201101075

Among other things, Dr Offit told a 30 second story which explains things so simply. A child whose parents chose not to vaccinate travels with their child, who contracts measles (or was it mumps?) The child then goes to the doctor, and while in the waiting room, exposes all those children. Three of those children were under a year of age and therefore too young to get the MMR vaccine, ended up hospitalized. One nearly died.
This is always one of my hormonal pregnancy fears as well: that someone who chooses not to immunize their child will contract a disease and and expose me/my baby in utero/my newborn to this horrible disease. Thereby their decision not to immunize based on flawed "research" costs my child his/her life. Thanks for that, Mrs. Selfish Mommy.

... I'm just saying :o (heheheheh)
Sara (SLVA from PW)