Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The cost of the Swine Flu

The Bird Flu in 2005, and the Swine Flu (Uh... no pun intended) in 2009. From what I saw on television, the newspapers, the internet and various other media, millions and millions of dollars were spent on the entire exercise. People were going wild, buying masks, keeping indoors, looking suspiciously at anyone who sneezed or coughed. Folks were blogging about what to do, what not to do, how to identify the infected ones and so on and so forth.
It's a great thing, no doubt, that we take care of things when they're in the initial stages. Compare it to the Black Death of 1348 or the London Plague of 1665 when there were literally millions of deaths and next to zero hygiene, and those ages were, well, Dark, things are much better now. Our healths are insured, drugs are being researched, governments stock up on medicines at even the slightest hint of anything that might go wrong.
However, having read Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist over and over, I've developed this economist's mindset. Or rather, the cynic's mindset.
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The same has been said about economists of late, but then it has also been proven that governments that do not listen to them are doomed to fail.
Anyway, all I wanted to say here (in what was intended to be a short post), is that the actual number of deaths that really occurred due to Swine Flu is much much less than the number of deaths that occur each day due to factors such as air pollution, heart disease, smoking, road accidents etc. How much money do we spend on controlling those factors?
As it turns out, the Swine Flu turned out to be not that different from ordinary influenza. So, who profited from all the millions that were spent by governments and individuals alike? And we, the people, spent our money for what?
I haven't put in the statistics because I want you to Google them up and find out how many deaths happen because of smoking, alcohol abuse, narcotics abuse, heart disease, air pollution etc, and how much money is spent on preventing these more widespread pandemics.
I read somewhere that risk = hazard + outrage. Do follow up the link and get educated.
The Swine Flu and Bird Flu are important, and are to be doubtlessly tackled. But that is a very small part of the picture. The bigger picture is staring us in the face and yet we refuse to see it. Our eyes are open, but our minds are closed. They want to keep it that way by diverting our thought processes to things that aren't really that important.


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