Here goes Homo Politicus again. Few of us really know anything about the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but most of us have views about whoever is our President.
Homo Politicus says those views tell us all we need to know about the CDC’s effectiveness.
A recent survey finds 76% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans confident in the federal government’s ability to respond to Ebola while a 2006 survey about avian flu found 72% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats confident in the federal response.
The difference? A Democratic President now, a Republican President then.
We can see the swing taking place. At the H1N1 “swine flu” outbreak in President Obama’s first year, 81% of Democrats were confident and 70% of Republicans still remained so in the federal response.
But does it matter that our expectation about the performance of government agencies is formed not on the facts but on our political bias?
It matters very much. We panic about how we imagine our government will respond to Ebola but do little about diseases that we bring upon ourselves.
It makes no sense, for example, to panic about Ebola and at the same time smoke cigarettes.
And it is shameful for us to panic about Ebola being brought here from Africa when we’ve done so little to eradicate it there.
Malaria is estimated to have killed over 600,000 worldwide in 2012, 90% of them in sub-Saharan Africa. But that death rate is estimated to be down almost 50% since 2000.
The same success could have been achieved with Ebola. It still could.
And what is the single greatest real reason to fear an Ebola catastrophe here? Our healthcare system.
People without health insurance who have the disease will put off visiting a doctor until it gets worse. Of course they will. They will infect others before they get to medical care.
We could fix that, too, but we are distracted by Homo Politicus. How very sad it is that we listen to him.