Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the Fedguv has gone "chicken-little" on bird flu. It's in all-out panic mode, as evidenced by its pandemic flu plan released at the beginning of May. But what I want to know is why in the world you would even need a plan for something that has only killed about 100 people since 2003-in the entire world! (What is that, a rate of 0.00001 percent? Does that sound like a pandemic to you?)
Let me just put those figures into context for you. Just as many farmers in Minnesota died from tractor and other work-related accidents over the same time period. Yet there's no movie of the week about that or a $7 billion federal plan to make farming in Minnesota safer.
I told you last month that the bird flu has actually been around for more than 40 years, but it still hasn't transformed from a bird-to-human virus into a human-to-human one-and there's no sign that it will anytime soon. Virtually all of the victims to date caught the virus from close contact with infected poultry or its droppings. So why the government has decided to take such drastic actions now is anyone's guess.
Yet for some reason, the government is preparing for a worst-case scenario of up to 2 million deaths in the United States alone.
Let's take a look at what's in store for us if the government's wildest dreams do come true.
They're not going to close off the borders, but travelers who have been exposed to the virus could be quarantined. The guvlumps obviously haven't thought this one through. If you have 200 passengers on an airliner from Bangladesh and one of them is coughing and sneezing, are you going to put the entire lot of them-including the crew-in a prison camp? (We better start saving up for reparation payments now!)
Another part of The Plan says that flight crews should put surgical masks on coughing travelers. Now that's an idea I can get on board with. In fact, I have promoted carrying your own mask for years now--not that anyone has listened. Most people I know say they've been reluctant to do so for fear of being singled out as a terrorist. But now the fear of birds has superseded the fear of terrorists-at least until next spring when the bird flu terror will have flown over into ignominious history along with SARS, nuclear winter, and radon gas.
You're on your own
But beyond traveler facemasks and quarantines, the burden of dealing with any actual impact of the pandemic would fall on the shoulders of the local communities because, as the AP reports, "federal officials won't be able to offer the kind of aid expected after hurricanes or other one-time, one-location natural disasters." Hmm, are they talking about the kind of aid they gave the victims of Hurricane Katrina? If so, we'd better start lining up for help now. Better yet, keep FEMA, federal troops, and "energized" Washington boneheads as far away as possible. Each state can take care of itself-or at least it can if it ignores the other recommendations laid out in the flu plan.
In an effort to get the private sector to take action against the spread of the future killer virus, the plan calls for employers to be able to keep workers at least three feet apart. Have you ever heard of such nonsense? What good is that going to do? Plenty of good studies have shown that viral diseases, including the respiratory ones, are most likely to be spread through contaminated hands. Forget the three-feet rule-the best way to prevent any virus from spreading is good old-fashioned common sense: Wash your hands often (and you might want to consider wearing rubber gloves and a facemask, too).
Funny their advice for a terrorist attack is duct tape and plastic wrap when they really need to spend billions protecting us. Yet when a face mask and rubber gloves that you could get for $3.99 at the local Rite-Aid IS the best solution, they're going to Congress for billions in "bird protection money."
Although the government says it's placing more responsibility on the private sector, it's still keeping its options open. Under this plan, if there are breakdowns in public order (I can't wait to hear what they consider a "breakdown in public order" when they're the ones creating the panic to begin with), the governors can deploy National Guard troops--or even request federal troops--to maintain order or to enforce travel restrictions.
But I think this talk about using the military here at home is less about protecting us from bird flu and more about getting under military control. We are already starting to lose our freedoms in the name of protecting the masses-even though there's no pandemic in sight. The craziest example I've seen so far is the fascist law against poultry farmers recently passed in Virginia.
Bird flu scare leads to medical fascism in Virginia
It's a predictable situation: Governments use fear to gain control. It doesn't happen all at once--the good citizens of the USA would never allow that. But when it chips away slowly, it's much more bearable to the public.
It's the frog-in-the-boiling-pot-of-water scenario. Put a frog in boiling water, and he'll jump right out. But put him in the water when it's cool and heat it up gradually, he'll be frog soup in no time.
Every time the government passes another law, it turns up the heat another notch. That's right-we're the frogs, and it's getting pretty hot-especially for the poultry farmers living in Virginia.
Taking their cue from the central government of the USSA (United Soviet States of America), Virginia is the first state to enter the twilight zone of oppression in the name of "protecting" us from bird flu. Among other things, the new Virginia bill HB982 will allow the Department of Agriculture to carry out unwarranted search and seizure on premises that keep poultry, will make any violation a Class One Misdemeanor (a $25,000 fine and a year in jail), and will require a license to keep ANY poultry-even one duck.
Virginia already had a bill that allowed for certain actions to be taken in any situations that would cause an imminent threat to public health. But the original bill, unlike the new one, had a few clauses that made it a much better option. For starters, it had a sunset clause, meaning that it would only be in effect for 12 months. In other words, once the threat had passed, the bill would no longer be necessary. The new law has no sunset clause.
Also, with the original law, the Virginia Department of Agriculture would have needed the permission of the governor before taking any actions against any poultry farmers. But now, the Department of Agriculture will have the power to act on its own without anyone else's go-ahead. Sounds like a recipe for trouble to me. What's next? Are they going to ban tractors in Virginia because 14 farmers died in accidents in one year?
It might be too late for Virginia's chicken farmers, but the rest of us still have time to notice the boiling water and get out before it's too late.