Swine Flu Is the Health of the State

Statists across the spectrum are playing up the swine flu as more evidence that we need more state action and government power. Liberals see it as an excuse for more public health programs. Conservatives see it as a reason for clamping down on the border (not just conservatives — a Democratic Congresswoman has called for a total border shutdown, to the cheers of rightwing radio), and for more government quarantine powers. I even heard one commentator warning about how people might spread the swine flu through sharing drugs.

To shore up the hysteria, some say this might be as bad as the Spanish Flu of 1918–1919. Well, I’m not sure about that (but of course that epidemic was not exactly helped by governments and particularly World War I), but I recall they have made this comparison before and it didn’t pan out. Remember the bird flu? That was ancient history, however—at least a few years ago.

One more point about government protecting us from disease: Remember when Andrew Speaker snuck into the country in 2007, despite many governmental obstacles in the way, and was only quarantined after he turned himself in? Epidemics do pose a major social problem, but government is not the answer.

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