Respectful Insolence on the anti-vaxers; the healthcare crisis

Orac’s Respectful Insolence blog explores the motivations of anti-vaxers, via the recent news of the Texas church whose anti-vaccination advice resulted in an outbreak of measles (widely reported in the past few days).

Measles outbreaks, religion, and the reality of the antivaccine movement.

Orac (nom de plume of surgeon/scientist David Gorski) is brave enough to have read comments on various anti-vaxer sites. I almost never read comments on sites of any kind, since they mostly seem to be from trolls and loonies… (though at Little Green Footballs, Charles Johnson is frequently happy to reproduce numerous vile, vicious, racist comments from various right wing sites, and I do see those from time to time.)

Anyway, Orac draws this conclusion from those comments:

According to these people, parents who vaccinate their children are “ramming their beliefs down their children’s throats.” They also believe that vaccines are pure evil, entities whose only purpose is to kill, maim, and sicken, although why scientists who develop vaccines would want to kill, maim, and sicken children is never really explained. Usually it’s some sort of vague conspiracy theory in which these scientists and pediatricians, usually in the thrall of big pharma, want to ensnare children for the rest of their lives in pharma dependency, such that they have to take pills for diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and various other chronic health conditions. These are the people who are trying to influence others into not vaccinating. They are fanatical, and they are relentless. Indeed, they are very much like a religion.

Let’s emphasize this passage: “although why scientists who develop vaccines would want to kill, maim, and sicken children is never really explained”.

This rings bells with me, based on general attitudes about Obamacare and the long tradition of American anti-intellectualism on the right — as well as posts from my Tennessee family about their distrust of ‘big pharma’. (Those eggheads just can’t be trusted.)

It’s worth stepping back, and appreciating the bigger context. Which is, as I see it, that lifespans have increased over the past century, because medicine [like all science] has steadily improved, by its nature. But of course improved medical coverage comes at a cost. It involves more and more checkups, more tests, and more treatments. Those costs help people live longer and healthier, and of course they also benefit doctors and pharmaceutical companies, who provide those services. That’s what capitalism is all about; how could it not be so?.

It’s also the essence of the healthcare ‘crisis’ — as people live longer, more and more treatments are more and more expensive, and who’s going to pay for it?

So what do anti-vaxxers think is the problem with this? We live in a Capitalist society. What would be the alternative to the medical profession profiting from advanced treatments (including vaccines) to help everyone live longer, healthier, lives? Some kind of Socialism, in which taxes cover these services? Well, yes, perhaps that’s what Obamacare is about, to some extent. It’s worked well enough in various European countries. Otherwise those left out get sick and die on the streets, or are treated in emergency rooms, whose costs are passed on the rest of us as healthcare premiums. [I have to mention that objectors to Obamacare didn’t seem to mind nearly so much when it was Romneycare, inspired by a Republican think thank, in Massachusetts. It’s only when it’s associated with our black president that it become so objectionable.] (And of course I always wonder where the Christian response is, whose tenants apparently are about helping the poor, yet whose current response about any kind of social welfare programs seems to dismiss the poor as deadbeats.)

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