Friday, October 14, 2005

Chicken Little Go Home

There’s a reason I read the Wall Street Journal. It isn’t my investments. I’ve long said that I’ve got all of my money in commodities and utilities—I buy groceries and pay the light bill. No, I read the Journal because there is calm amidst the sea of hysteria that is the remainder of the media. There apparently are thinking folks there. One of the best is Holman Jenkins. (Unfortunately, the editorial that prompted this lurks behind a subscription gate, so you’ll have to seek it out on your own if so inclined—“There’s Something Catching in Washington” from the 12 October edition.)

I was nearly atwitter with fears of dying before Christmas from the bird flu epidemic. Why, I saw it in the papers, heard it on CNN and even saw the President being questioned by some “stuck on stupid” media mavens on what he’s doing about it and whether anyone at FEMA had been put in charge of pre-positioning body bags. Words like “pandemic” become necessary addenda to everyone’s vocabulary. Consultants are saying “it’s not if, but when” the virus mutates. I even saw some dire forecaster stating that it’s going to be so bad that time henceforth will be measured as “before” and “after” we got the bird…flu that is.

But then, there’s this: World Health Organization opinion

So, to get to the basics of what we know so far: sixty people have died worldwide. SIXTY! And, they were predominantly handlers of diseased birds in third world countries. The virus does not infect humans. Only birds get it. Here’s where Chicken Little should be afraid and Turkey Lurkey as well.

It might mutate. And, then look out. It might—that’s the operative factor. It also might not. But Holman Jenkins really puts the issue into perspective, and in the process takes a mighty jab at the intelligent design boobacracy.

Sure, the virus might mutate. But, it might mitigate considerably if, not when, it does. Sure it might mutate, but if it is to create this global catastrophe it will probably have to insure that its hosts live long enough to infect others. High and prompt mortality isn’t conducive to global travel and “Typhoid Mary” cruises. Ever wonder why ebola isn’t rampant? It might mutate into something that looks a lot like something we’ve already built up immunity toward. Ever notice how last year’s flu vaccine won’t work against this year’s mutation, but you still seem to survive anyway? Jenkin’s real point is that nature reflects a lot more UNintelligent design than ordered architecture.

Yet, we’ve got the New Yawk Times screaming that we’ve got to start stockpiling anti-flu vaccines—despite the fact that an as yet unmutated virus won’t be responsive. The NYT wants to prepare quarantine materials, activate the military, stockpile blankets to later dispense to indigenous natives and generally spend an extra couple of billion dollars to “do something” and do it now. We were slow on Katrina and Rita, so let’s not fall behind on Ducky Lucky and the falling sky.

Can’t we spend our time better talking about whether or not Harriet Miers ever said she was for or against abortion?

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