By now you're sick of hearing the words "swine flu". But, unless you're old enough, you may not realize that a form of swine flu threatened the world in 1976 in the last year of the Ford Administration. That swine flu first showed up in February of that year, when Private David Lewis at Fort Dix died of a form of severe influenza not seen since the plague of 1918-19. That plague took 500,000 American lives and 20 million people worldwide.
Within two weeks, an additional 500 soldiers had been stricken with swine flu, although none of them died. However, officials realized that any flu capable of spreading so quickly had the makings of a bona-fide pandemic. Pvt. Lewis was the ONLY person to actually die from swine flu in 1976, but the quickly developed vaccination killed HUNDREDS of Americans, despite a cost of $135 million.
To be fair to President Ford, he was in a no-win situation. Had he NOT acted he would surely have been held accountable for any mass deaths. By the end of the year, the vaccine had been administered to 220 million Americans. As Jimmy Carter assumed the Presidency, reports began to surface of the vaccination's many side effects, including neurological problems.
Joseph Califano, one of the earliest to use the word "fiasco" in describing the swine flu situation, later came to the conclusion that it was unavoidable. Califano, who President Carter appointed Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, admitted that the doctors had no choice but to err on the side of caution.
Since the 1976 caper, things have become much more complex. The Obamacare bill itself is approximately 2000 pages and was written in 17 days! Senator Harry Reid himself has added an ADDITIONAL 383 pages to an already bloated bill loaded with pork for EVERY Senator voting for it. One example is $100 million for Senator Chris Dodd's favorite hospital.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, healthcare provided 14.3 million jobs in 2008 and 10 of the largest 20 occupations are healthcare related. It's expected to generate an additional 3.2 million jobs between 2008 and 2010, more than any other industry, primarily the result of an increasingly elderly population.
So, now we know that our government's experience with healthcare is poor and the industry is huge and getting bigger. We know that Obamacare is massive, incomprehensible to virtually anyone and loaded with pork in order to get the 60 Senate votes.
The whole situation reminds me of a great commercial decrying drug abuse: This is your head (looking at a raw egg). This is your head on drugs (looking at the eggs being scrambled in a frying pan). Any questions?
I'll cover some of the economics of Obamacare tomorrow. Please "Take Me On" in the Comments section below.