Monday, April 27, 2009

Pork Double Good Fortune

Swine flu! Gesundheit.

Some pandemic this is turning out to be. Yes, of course, people are suffering from a very bad head cold, and some people probably have pneumonia by now. There has been a smattering of cases worldwide, but this is no international health crisis. The reality seems to be that people are genuinely shocked by a warm weather flu. Does that justify the hyperbole, histrionics, and hollering of pandemic! in a crowded world. Pandemic? Because some poor pig farmer who lives in pigshit caught and transmitted the pork flu? Quelle surprise?

Memo to myself: propose an end to human-livestock cohabitation. (This may put the kibosh on Iowa's recent bill to legalize marriage between one redneck and one farm animal. Polygamy is an issue, I suppose.)

We should busy ourselves finding a more sinister name for the bug-du-jour, because swine flu frankly sounds delicious; or it sounds like we're insulting the flu, and/or the pig. Poor pigs. The pig cull will certainly be greater than the human moribidity. And, anyway, a saucy acronym would inspire dread among the dubious. How about B.A.C.O.N.? Buy Another Case of Nyquil.

Israel is actively renaming the swine flu, pork being off the Jew's hospital menu. G.O.Y.: Gentile Originated sYndrome.

The facts: The swine flu has a current body count of, approximately, 50 people. How does that constitute a pandemic? It's about the same as the annual winter flu cull in New York City. (Or Mexico City.)

I'll tell you how a few sick people constitutes a pandemic. Because it's Mexico. This oinking flu is piggybacking on Mexican drug war hysteria. Mexico looks more than ever like a failed state.

And you might argue that this is a good time to reconsider, or rescind NAFTA. You would be right. But for the wrong reasons.

This crisis has demonstrated that the US needs to embrace Mexico as if it were part of the US. We need to behave as if there were no border at all because, in practice, there isn't one. If Mexico is a failing state, this medical situation gives us an opportunity to shore up Mexican society. We must synchronize our medical and social welfare delivery systems. Health and Human Services are primary in restoring civil order and confidence in society. And this can only help in the war against Mexican drug lords.

The question is: How can we possibly contain the spread of infection between US and Mexico if we can't document every potential carrier who enters the US? The US-Mexico border is more porous than the proverbial Papal condom.

Mexico may be sending us flu, but we are sending them guns. Both are primary health issues. If 50 deaths constitutes an epidemic, then gun violence is at an epidemic level in both the US and Mexico. The CDC is sending vaccine. Where is the NRA? The ATFE? The DOJ? What are they sending?

Ultimately, no one prays harder for a pandemic than I. Humanity needs a good culling. Look around you. (We could start with the people who named this pandemic.) But there is real danger in wild overreaction to this rather minor outbreak. Perhaps we will be less inclined to mount a serious, sustained response to the next, real(er) pandemic.

We were lucky this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment