Kansas Progress Institute

Ad Astra Per Aspera ~ To the Stars Through Difficulties

Zika is Coming

Posted on August 16, 2016

By David Burress

There are a small number of economic principles that every voter really, really needs to understand, principles that most voters and politicians either do not get quite right, or else engage in outright libertarian denial. Public health illustrates one of those principles perfectly. The underlying principle is what economist call “public goods.”
The specific application is epidemics.  It is in quite literally in EVERYONE’S interest to stamp out epidemics as quickly as possible. Not even the 1% are immune.

However controlling epidemics utterly depends on surveillance and action carried out by specialized public health authorities. These agencies need to be global not national. We need (and do not have) a central world public health authority with the power to take action. We currently limp along with incomplete international cooperation of underfunded national and NGO agencies, coordinated by the WHO.

Currently we are grappling with ebola and zika. Many more communicable diseases are on their way as a result of global warming and globalization and population growth, spurred on by the ordinary Darwinian adaptation of all germs. We need a better surveillance and early warning system.  
Meanwhile lots of old diseases could and should be eradicated but aren’t.

Leaving idiotic libertarian and anti-science vaxer ideology aside, what prevents action is the classic public goods problem: no one wants to pay for it, or to give up national sovereignty to enforce it.  This is known as the free rider problem. If a person or a country avoids paying a fair share of costs, while other countries do the right thing, then the shirker gets the full benefit of (for example) disease eradication without paying for it.

Which helps explains why the many in Congress voted down funding for the zika campaign.  Although libertarian idiocy was also responsible.

2 thoughts on “Zika is Coming”

  1. Adam Neira says:

    As I have been saying since late 2013 the virus scene in the world is like looking out on a series of tsunami waves. One wave appears and then another one appears. Varying strength, momentum and virulence. It is a very fluid scene. Like a game of “Whack a Mole” one virus appears, seems to be knocked down, then another etc. etc.


    In the Virus Premier League now :

    Zika+; Yellow Fever; MERS; Ebola; H1N1; Bird Flu; AFP Polio; The Plague; Malaria

    In the Second Division you have :

    Dengue; Typhoid; Measles; Leishmaniasis; Mad Cow Disease; AIDS; Herpes; Cholera etc. etc.

    Both “divisions” need 24/7/365 oversight now. Risk assessment must be done by a team. This team to counsel, warn and admonish.

    The OIE and WHO etc. need to co-operate more because human and animal viruses are crossing over more frequently now. The OIE, WHO, CDC, Euro CDC and the Gates Foundation should come under the one global health umbrella.

    All 4 levels of govt, i.e. International, National, Regional & Local must be on the front foot now re. Zika+


    In promising news, two months ago the UN set up a Multi Party Trust Fund (MPTF) for Zika.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *