Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Hmmm. The finding that only half of healthcare workers would be willing to work in the event of mass casualties due to contagion is yet another key element in consideration of a bird flu pandemic. If H5N1 makes the jump to easy human to human transmission and retains the current 55% mortality rate, healthcare workers may elect to self quarantine rather than expose themselves and their households. Hopefully the mortality will drop as the virus mutates, but this is a new kind of flu. No one has any immunity to it. The 1918 flu epidemic (also a new kind of bird flu) had a mortality rate of 2.5% and it killed 20 million people. It killed 10,000 people a week in the US.

That's something for you to consider as well. Stay home from work for weeks, versus playing 50/50 (or even 2.5/100) russian roulette with your life and that of your family. If you can't or won't stay home, are you willing to look like a doof and wear gloves and a mask outside, practice scrupulous decontamination, and only eat at home? Do you have masks? Do you expect to be able to get them when you need them? Remember how well that preparation plan worked for the hurricane victims. Don't put yourself in the position of all those people, knowing that their failure to plan was a plan for failure and their loved ones paid with their lives. Do you have home insurance, car insurance, health insurance, life insurance? Why? It's very expensive and chances are you won't need it. Oh wait...

Also consider the impact on infrastructure if half of the police stay home? If half of the power company stays home? If half of the water treatment employees stay home? If the snowplow drivers stay home? What if they're not staying home but sick in understaffed hospitals?

We are in for rough times folks. It may not be flu. It may be another terrorist attack. It may be an earthquake. Get yourself ready. Don't force those who depend on you to suffer. Don't depend on others to help you when you could have done so yourselves. Save that precious help for those who have no recourse.

I'm not pulling this out of my ass people. The World Health Organization is blaring the alarm. It's in this months National Geographic. The freaking McChimpy Hitler village idiot from Texas is worried. What more do you need to take this seriously? Prepare now before everyone panics and the shelves are bare.

posted by Rachel 9/27/2005
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Wonderful Op-ed in the Charlotte Observer.
Drug war fuels crime

Nation's failed policy subsidizes criminals, boosts `gateway' to use

From Robert Sharpe, policy analyst for the nonprofit organization Common Sense for Drug Policy in Washington, D.C.:

How should North Carolina respond to the growing use of methamphetamine? During the crack epidemic of the '80s, New York City chose the zero tolerance approach, opting to arrest and prosecute as many offenders as possible. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry was smoking crack and America's capital had the highest per capita murder rate in the country. Yet crack use declined in both cities simultaneously.

The decline was not due to a government anti-drug campaign or the passage of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Simply put, the younger generation saw firsthand what crack was doing to their older brothers and sisters and decided for themselves that crack was bad news.

This is not to say nothing can be done about meth. Access to drug treatment is critical for the current generation of users. A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers $7.48 in societal costs. Diverting resources away from prisons and into treatment would save both tax dollars and lives. In order to protect future generations from drugs like meth, politicians are going to have to come up with a common sense drug policy that doesn't involve subsidizing organized crime.

Right now we're throwing good money after bad. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability of trafficking. For addictive drugs like meth, a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

Don't expect a radical drug policy rethink anytime soon. Tough-on-drugs politicians have built careers on confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with drugs themselves. Hazardous meth labs are reminiscent of the exploding liquor stills that sprang up during alcohol prohibition. Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market. Drug dealers don't ID for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences. So much for protecting the children.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a cost-effective alternative to never-ending drug war. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with addictive drugs like meth. This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and facilitate hard drug use.

Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more important than the message.
All the Sudafed and cold medicine is behind the pharmacy counter at Target now. Have you ever waited for a prescription at Target? So nice to have to wait in line for half an hour when you're sick.

Imagine simply spending the drug war budget on rebuilding the gulf coast. Budget problems go poof. Really, who would be cooking up meth if they could just plant weed in the backyard? How many dollars are poured into smuggling, turf fights, and organized crime, over something as easy to grow as tomatoes?

(Spotted on this blog with these other head-smacking stories.)

posted by Rachel 9/27/2005
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Good God! The mental state and capacity of people who believe this kind of crap is extremely disturbing. The idea of any of them putting their notions into action during a major crisis is alarming.

posted by Rachel 9/27/2005
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