Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Be bioterrorized. Be very bioterrorized.

We've seen how 9-11 changed NIH. So how has it changed CDC?

Since the occupation of the White House by God's other son,* the nation's public health infrastructure -- which consists mostly of state and municipal agencies and assets -- has been devastated by the state budget crisis. Here in Massachusetts, we've nearly eliminated our tobacco control program (once a shining light unto the world), devastated HIV prevention, state-funded substance abuse treatment, knocked chunks out of our diabetes, breast and cervical cancer programs . . . I could go on and on but it hurts me to write about this. We've seen community public health agencies with decades of history reduced to shells, hard working public servants out of work. Of course the consequences aren't seen instantly, but we will see them soon enough.

But we're saved! There's substantial new federal funding coming into the states for public health! Err, ahh, it's for bioterrorism preparedness, but you know, money is money, infrastructure is infrastructure, right? Maybe not. This money is going to pay for state-wide exercises. We're going to pretend that the forces of evil sprayed anthrax spores around or invented Ebolamydia or synthesized smallpox and everybody in town has to go to a central location to get a shot or take a pill or maybe have themselves quarantined so they can die in a negative pressure isolation chamber, whatever. Then we're going to see what would happen.

Don't worry, they aren't just throwing money away. I personally got a call from some consulting company in New Jersey last year. They needed a minority subcontractor for their proposal to run these exercises. What were we supposed to do? Who cares, we'll figure that out later, just sign up. My motto has always been anything for a buck, so I signed. Last month I got a call from somebody I'd never heard of before. Oh yeah, I had, I just forgot, it was these security consultants. They got the contract. So what am I supposed to do? They'll send me some stuff to read, I'll comment on it (I still don't know what it is, and I still don't know anything about disaster drills) and I'll send them a bill.

Now you know why I use a pseudonym here.

*Have you noticed how his speech is getting more and more rusticated? By now, he sounds like Wilford Brimley as Cookie in a 1960s grade B cowboy movie. Do his apostles actually know that he is in fact the scion of a patrician Connecticut family who attended Andover, Yale and Harvard? I'm pretty sure he didn't talk like a Hollywood cowpoke at Andover.

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