Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Government to cancel rugby games

That's right. The Government will cancel rugby games, close schools, stop the Cook Strait ferry and divert incoming passenger jets away from Auckland when the impending H5N1 flu epidemic reaches New Zealand.

Alarm calls over the prospect of the H5N1 bird flu virus mutating to a human-to-human transmissible form are sounding more loudly by the day. Global epidemics (pandemics) have occurred three times in the past century - the "Hong Kong" flu (H3N2) of 1968, the "Asian" flu (H2N2) of 1957 and the "Spanish flu" (H1N1) in 1918. The 1918 Spanish flu rivals the Black Death of the fourteenth century for claim to be the most devastating plague in human history. It killed more than 50,000,000 people - one fortieth of the world's population, and many times more than the 15,000,000 who died in the First World War.

The very idea of the Government cancelling rugby games makes the flesh crawl. Every right thinking New Zealander - not just the libertarian - will be appalled at the thought. Yet the onset of a global flu epidemic on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu would be grave enough to justify emergency government measures that would be abhorrent under normal circumstances.

This is why those who favour heavy-handed government intervention in people's everyday lives are apt to cry "epidemic" when there isn't one. For example, there is no obesity epidemic. Obesity is not a contagious, deadly disease. It's simply the result of eating too much and not getting enough exercise. No government action whatsoever is called for to combat New Zealand's alleged obesity "epidemic". Obese people should lose weight, if they want to, that's all.


At 1:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good comment. So you reckon its not worth trying to encourage healthy eating, especially in young people, so that we don't face a diabetes epidemic in years to come? So it should be everyone's own responsibility to lose weight if they want to, but what about when they need all that extra health care? Leave them to die? (and epidemic doesn't refer to contagious diseases alone, learn about what you are writing abour before writing).

At 2:43 am, Blogger Richard said...

Many dictionary definitions specify contagion, e.g, the American Heritage Dictionary: "An outbreak of a contagious disease that spreads rapidly and widely." Anyway, obesity is not a disease, and there has been no outbreak, just a gradual gain in average weight.

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