Sunday May 2, 2021
This week has been World Immunization Week. Although, given the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, it feels more like World Immunization Year.
I wish I could claim that immunization has been a resounding success.
Yes, the world developed COVID-19 vaccines in record time.
Yes, more than one billion people have had their first vaccination.
Yes, in some areas, vaccines do seem to have slowed the transmission and lethality of this coronavirus.
But, in the mainline media’s obsession with provincial statistics, we’ve been missing a few significant bits of data.
For example that, according to the World Health Organization, “more than 81% [of vaccinations] have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries. “This is not only unfair,” WHO said, “it is also unwise, because a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere, especially with the worrying rise in variants.”
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore stated earlier this week that 280 million FEWER children received vaccinations against life-threatening diseases than the previous year.
One success story
Granted, 2020 was an unusual year. COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation rules made it spectacularly difficult for strangers to go into a remote village, mingle with local crowds, and drip a single drop of polio vaccine directly into a child’s open mouth.
At the very least, the child has to be unmasked. With minimal distancing in effect.
I mention polio because it has been one of the two most successful disease eradication programs of all time.
Rotary International made polio prevention a goal in 1988. Working with local clubs and other organizations for 33 years, Rotary has reduced worldwide polio cases by 99.9%. Only two countries in the whole world still have wild polio virus circulating.
Based on previous rates of infection, Rotary calculates that 19 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed by polio can walk today.
The other success has been smallpox. As a child, I had a smallpox vaccination every year. As an adult, I travelled with a yellow vaccination booklet that documented my vaccinations against smallpox. Also against diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, Yellow Fever, typhoid, typhus, measles, and mumps.
No immigration officer has asked for that booklet in more than 20 years.
Because vaccinations work. They prevent me from catching a disease, and from passing it on.
Not to immunize?
If you oppose vaccinations in principle, you are simply wrong.
I don’t care what scruples you have about the ethics of Big Pharma. I don’t care what rumours you have absorbed about Bill Gates or the Illuminati plotting to take over the world. I don’t care if you found an obscure Bible verse that specifically prohibits vaccinations.
Although I can’t help wondering how a writer 2,000 years ago would know about vaccinations, to condemn them.
But I doubt if you have anything that rational against vaccinations.
A private school founded by an anti-vaccination activist in South Florida that charges up to $30,000 per student has warned teachers and staff that they will not employ anyone who has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The school’s co-founder, Leila Centner, explained to Associated Press that “unvaccinated women have experienced miscarriages and other reproductive problems just by standing in proximity to vaccinated people.”
Centner Academy brands itself “the Brain School.” Clearly, a misnomer.
Those constitutional freedoms…
Yes, there has been confusing and sometimes contradictory information about the COVID-19 virus.
Yes, the vaccines available in Canada don’t claim equal effectiveness.
Yes, one of those vaccines may carry a slight risk of causing blood clots.
But that risk is lower than being hit by lightning. And enormously lower than the risk of injury in a car accident Yet no one refuses to ride in a car because they might, just might, get into an accident.
Don’t bleat about constitutional rights. The Canadian Constitution guarantees four fundamental freedoms: religion/conscience, speech, mobility, and equality under the law. But only “subject to such reasonable limits…as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
Freedom of mobility does not entitle you to break speed limits.
Freedom of speech does not allow you to lobby for killing Jews.
Freedom of religion does not let you exclude Black or Indigenous people from your church.
Nor do your rights entitle you to spread disease to other people. There are “reasonable limits.”
If you genuinely believe that immunization against COVID-19 -- or any other disease -- violates your rights, live up to your beliefs.
Go ahead, expose yourself. Then isolate yourself for the rest of your life. And if you get sick, don’t expect the medical system to take care of you.
The rest of us have rights too.
Copyright © 2021 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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I got a full mailbag after last week’s column on the federal deficits, and their implications for monetary theory. Happy reading, everyone!
Bruce Hartwick wrote, “Your position seems to be predicated on an assumption that we are our own source of debt and therefore all will ultimately be forgiven. Oh, that this were true!
“The reality is that foreigners are gobbling up our public and corporate debt at an unprecedented rate. For example, to quote Statistics Canada data from last year, during the month of April, well after the start of the Pandemic, foreigners made the largest monthly purchase of Canadian debt on record, $49 billion dollars. How can that be you say….? Someone always has money and even during the worst days of the depression in the thirties, the Rockefellers and other wealthy families continued to increase their fortunes. So unfortunately, Canada continues to mortgage its future and that of our grandchildren, to modern-day robber barons and when the invoice is ultimately presented, who are we going to blame?”
Tom Watson puzzled, “So, let's see...do I owe you, or do you owe me...or do we both owe somebody else?”
Robert Caughell looked at historical precedent: “As shocking as the deficit/debt may be for present generations, we and other countries spent what we had to fight and win WW II. Unusual circumstances require unusual actions. resolve.”
Rob Brown made the same point: “Who says, ‘We can’t afford that kind of debt’? If this were a war, we would be going into all sorts of debt to build up the machinery which would defeat our enemy. Think of the Covid-19 virus as the enemy. You've got the picture.
“I like your comments about paper currency and debt. That's why, ‘There’s only so much money around’ doesn't make sense. The government can always print more of it. No problem at all. The US has done that for years. We do, too. See how easy it is to finance a government, or a country? You're right; the government gives itself a line of credit and just keeps going.
“Sadly that doesn't work on an individual level.”
Judyth Mermelstein: “Quite a few well-respected ‘modern monetary theory’ economists would agree with you [about the role of credit] though many others still cling to the view that money is a zero-sum game.
“In effect, a government gives itself a secured line of credit, the security being the collective assets of the country. This is why it's meaningful to look at the debt-to-GDP relationship and consider the (otherwise mindboggling) pandemic debt as something that can be amortized over a number of years without slashing public spending on health, education, etc. as the "deficit hawks" would do.”
Ruth Buzzard asked, “If cash and credit are not backed by anything and money has become abstract, how do you deal with Bitcoin? I think the world has become terminally addicted to monetary scams. Weren’t the 1920’s full of scam artists too? Everyone is jumping into the stock market to invest in things they don’t understand, but that are guaranteed to double in the next ten days.”
Bob Rollwagen also wondered about Bitcoin: “Jim, I assume you don’t hold any Bitcoin or similar article. I missed that opportunity also but the friends that do are quite happy.
“Apparently there is about 100 Billion sitting in Canadians savings accounts or similar investments because we could not spend it and had to stay at home. So, does this mean we can all stay at home and balance the budget in five years? We are advised that the economy is doing better than expected and employment for many sectors is also better, just not back to pre-pandemic levels. We are witnessing in Ontario what happens when you put financial constraints ahead of public health.
“Credit is based on the value of underlying assets. Houses that were valued at $50,000 in the seventies are now selling for $2,000,000 within days of listing. A factor of 40. [But] there are countries in the world that don’t have credit, don’t have a underlying asset structure, whose currency is defined by others, and are not spending.
“We are witnessing the results of the age-old belief that conservative wealth and low taxation is the basis for prosperity.
“Building back with vision is the only way to go. Not just better, and definitely not returning to normal! Getting past the Privilege Barrier” will be our biggest challenge.”
Laurna Tallman caught me for failing to follow my own distinction between debt and credit: “Why do you conclude by asking how economists will work with ‘universal debt’ rather than asking how they will work with ‘universal credit’?
“I think Christia Freeland (and some others) are pushing for a paradigm shift in thinking that gives more credence to the inherent values of human beings and their creative potential in a world where resources, by chance of birth, have been unevenly distributed. That principle applies within countries where particular individuals happen to have inherited or otherwise jigged the economy to become vastly wealthier than most other people. “
Ian Otterbein harked back to previous columns, but it seems relevant to today’s column too: “What would the reaction of the public be if the health authorities said: ‘It’s just a virus. It will kill about 2% of you, permanently affect the health of another 5%, and make some of you sick for a short period of time. The majority will see no long term effect. So we are not asking you to make any changes to your life.’”
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