Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stopping the Anti-Vaccine Wackos

You know the anti-vaccine wackos, right? They're the ones who think that putting small quantities of aluminum and mercury and formaldehyde into infants is somehow dangerous, and they're always uneducated rural fools except when they're not, because when they're highly-educated urban professionals, they're just deranged or greedy or narcissistic. So there's never anything to worry about.

How can we put a stop to those crazies? Easy: if we really gave a damn, we'd make vaccines tax deductible. ...Instead of spending millions of dollars on ad campaigns, millions more on studies, and millions more on news coverage, then requiring parents to buy health insurance, then requiring parents to validate the insurance, then requiring parents to take time off work and get in their cars and drive to the doctor and pay a co-pay and sit in the waiting room and sit in the second waiting room and get a booster, then go back home, then do it again next week when the other ones come in, then do it again two months later when the time is right.

Sure, we'll make them do all that, but if what we actually care about is kids getting vaccinated, then we'd spend our money, not trying to convince a bunch of hicks that they're idiots, but instead lobbying for all medical insurance and care provided to minors being tax-deductible. That's what we'd do if what we cared about was vaccines and public health, as opposed to appearing smart and mocking the uneducated (who are always uneducated, superstitious tradesmen, except when they're not, in which case they're engaging in irresponsible, attention-seeking behavior, as explained above).

Whammo. It's all done in one step. Health care expenditures on children are fully-deductible (rather than cleverly-deductible to the exclusion of other deductions), so not just premiums, but co-pays and pharmacy charges and lab charges and mileage to the doctor's office and the drugstore all come off your 1040. And all of a sudden, 90-95% of the holdouts start doing the vaccines. It even saves money for the people who were pro-vaccine before tax law changed, since so much money doesn't need to be spent on education campaigns and advocacy. Sure, we'll have to buy off more than a few congresspeople to get the deductions passed, but United and Blue Cross will get our backs, so the lobbying practically pays for itself. All of the scary epidemics of two year olds getting STDs that we worry about daily can be wiped out in one fell swoop of aluminum, and everyone will have more money in their pockets at the same time. "Problem" solved.

If you were even smarter and nicer, you'd make it not only deductible, but free. Kid goes to school a few weeks before classes start, kid sees the school nurse, kid gets shots, done. Done, and done. No more transferring paperwork between different specialists' offices, different government agencies, and different schools. No more co-pays, outlays, deductibles, or getting a free quote in just 15 minutes. Suddenly, the problem is gone.

Vaccine crusades are, to the modern American, what anti-drug campaigns are to the 1980s American: you know they don't actually give a flying fuck about the "topic" of their "concern," because they're more interested in buying riot gear and setting up dramatic busts producing condescending, expensive medical literature than they are in people having good jobs in a less-futile world that inspires less drug usage people giving more vaccines to their children.

There's an easy, perfectly predictable way to make people do things, and it's exactly the way western government and medicine already work: quid pro quo. Want everyone to start wearing triangular pink hats? Start handing them out. Want everyone to eat at your place on Fridays? Mass mail a dated ten dollar coupon without requiring purchase of an entree of equal or greater value.

It's easy to tell the difference between someone trying to make something happen because they truly believe in it, and someone merely exploiting an issue to make money and appear superior.


  1. Yes. The disturbance = those thinking themselves morally and intellectually superior (for the children, as always: unquestionably moral and deeply intellectually to do it for the children) and engaged in a chastising Mother Superior lecture pattern, they don't even see this is someone's ginned-up money scheme.

    Why weren't vaccines suggested for everyone all the time from September through April in, say, year 2000? Or perhaps year 1985? Have human immune systems weakened magically while their lives have technologically advanced? Were the Wachowski Brothers correct?

    1. I'll go into this more later, but I'm seeing this not so much as an expression of medical interests, but as a clash of cultures over the degree of deference we should grant to established authority. Lutherans v. Catholics, in a way.