Archive | 2:50 pm

Compassion vs. Polio

24 Aug

      Back in the 1960s when I was a child, I remember my parents taking me to school one day and all of the kids were there lined up and waiting to take the Polio vaccine. We all stood on line and when we got to the front we were given a little cup with a sugar cube inside. We swallowed the cube, threw away the cup and that was it. No more polio. We didn’t really know what polio was or what it was we were taking to prevent it but our parents knew and they also knew what a wonderful program this was, to eradicate this childhood disease with the help of our government and a sugar cube…and all for free. (How nice was that?)

Today, I can’t help but wonder if we’d still do such a thing for our children and our families. Our country seems polarized over a debate as to whether or not children in the United States should be entitled to healthcare at all, let alone cured of deadly diseases. Today everyone seems overly concerned about the cost of such a thing and seems to give little concern as to the greater good of our children and our society. Back in the 1960s I never heard my parents or anyone else talk about how expensive the polio vaccine program was. Polio was a bad thing and needed to be prevented and the vaccine was discovered and of course would be made available to every child. Why wouldn’t it? This was our chance to get rid of polio once and for all. Parents protected children and the government helped parents to do that. It was the right thing to do and so it was done.

In the world of the 21st century curing polio probably wouldn’t be cost effective. If the condition still existed and we’d just recently found a vaccine to prevent it no doubt a corporation or pharmaceutical company would develop a pill to help ease the symptoms instead so that we could all still get polio but then take a pill or medicine to help us live a “normal” life with polio….and they’d do it and pay for it with a government subsidy of course… Or maybe an insurance company would decide (because who knows better than doctors or scientists these days?) that the vaccine was too risky and needed more study so in the meantime you could pay for the vaccine yourself and depending on how much money you had you could either purchase the new and expensive and “unproven” vaccine to prevent polio at a very high price and be done with it or take the pill and live with it, or if you had no money at all, get polio and be crippled by it. That would be what the government would call freedom at work and cost effective and a political compromise and the new polio business that Wall Street could invest in. Them that has gets! Them that don’t, gets it worse!

I don’t know if the government’s decision to eradicate polio back in the 1960s was socialism or not or just simply a compassionate response to a public problem but it sure was a nice thing and the right thing for our government to do and I’m glad they did it. Apparently there just isn’t any money in being nice anymore. Nice isn’t a business.

Doing the right thing isn’t always cost effective but should it ever have to be? Don’t all of our children and all of our children’s schools deserve the very best that our country has to offer, regardless of the cost of the sugar cube?

If we can drop a bomb on it we can just as easily drop a sugar cube on it too, can’t we? I mean really? Polio anyone? And so this leads us to our next lesson…        


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