Thursday, November 5, 2009

PASS the Buck

Well the main topic on the news is the flu shots (where are we at now, the Tulip Flu, the Wheat Flu, the Trout Flu, the Swine Flu or the Avian Flu?) Ah, no matter, it all sounds the same to the person on the street. Yesterday, it was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), a few hours ago it was the Avian Flu and minutes ago it became the Swine Flu or as it is now supposed to be called: A H1N1 Flu..... All of this sounds technical and dangerous and people are unaware of the true impact of what all of this means, including the experts themselves. This has caused apathy in the entire system. So I want to talk about this general apathy and how we can solve it.

Lets follow the example of our experts and find a catchy name to make our exposé sound intellectual: Political Apathy Situation Solution (PASS). Now lets look at the phenomena of the flu shots and how people have reacted to it, and how the experts reacted to this. We hear about this flu being a problem sometime in April 2009. Our political experts urge the public to get vaccinated. Most resist, they are not that concerned about the virus and many health professionals give out conflicting information. Our government officials seem surprised at the public response and are seen on television scratching their collective heads. "Why won't the population believe us that this is a serious problem?"

Well here's a story: in the 1950s, we are told to go get some medical shots to prevent whatever illness of the day. The population rushes out to get the shots because science is never wrong. Twenty or so years later: "Ooops?!? Science had not considered this or that and many people seem to have developed extra complications to their health, sorry about that dear public at large." During the 1970s, the medical experts and the political leaders throw out some other alarm about some other disease and the necessity to get some kind of shot as well, the public dutifully obeys and gets their shots. Twenty or so years later: "Ooops !?! Science seems to not have predicted these negative secondary results, sorry about that."

Today, we have experts who wonder about if this whole mess is just shouting fire when there is only the smoke of an extinguished match, others wonder about the effectiveness of a vaccine in the first place when the flu can potentially evolve into a different strain altogether which then potentially makes the vaccine user that much more at risk compared to others.... and then others wondering about if all of this is only to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies by creating a phony danger. Our politicians tell us that they have been preparing for the worse since June or so and that we must all get vaccinated, science is on their side. "Why won't the public believe us?" Well the public doesn't trust you.... Haven't you figured that out yet?

Fictional TV series and fictional movies portray the government bureaucrat as an incompetent fool who is there for his own personal interests and not for the interest of the public at large.... Sure you have the occasional hero who selflessly protects the public at large, but the hero faces 2 enemies, the bad guy who did an awful thing and the foolish bureaucratic system that prevents a decent human from doing the right thing at the right time. We all watch this and identify with the situation.... all of us. Then the news shows us yet one more example of a company or a government bureaucracy that did the wrong thing by following the existing bureaucratic rules. My own previous blogs demonstrate this.

Why is it such a surprise that we have such apathy for the political leader or the bureaucratic process? How do they solve this? Well they pay millions of dollars to statisticians to ask us questions to see what the problem is..... The flaw is that the statistician or the social scientist who will use the statistical process don't know what questions to ask. Everyone assumes that the system, the bureaucracy works and the questions reflect this unproven assumption, so no solution can ever be attained through the bureaucratic methodology of statistics..... and since we are in a capitalist society where we must produce and produce and do this quickly, no one takes the time to think for a mere 3 seconds (contemplation) and see the problem clear as day..... no instead the statistician must produce a questionnaire in half a second and use the remaining half to ask the population and then spend one second to analyze the obviously flawed results.... Well we saved one second in comparison to the thinker who just want to "waste" his time contemplating. Then we have the politicians shrugging their shoulders as to why a population is so unresponsive to the "science" of today.

Then tragedy strikes. A young teen dies from the virus. Was science right this time around? Were the politicians genuine in their warnings? Well, the public now mobilizes to get themselves vaccinated as quickly as possible. Scientists don't really inform us that this death is in the category of extreme rarity in odds because now the population has decided to believe in the severity of the problem that the government has mentioned all along..... But guess what..... this same government who warned us of the dangers, who says that they have been preparing since June of this year, the same government who scratches their heads as to why they are not trusted..... well they don't seem to be very prepared. The news reports how there is a shortage of vaccines, how people who are not on the list of priority get vaccinated before others who have priority (a sports team, inmates from a prison to name but 2). Children who do have priority get vaccinated but their parents do not which means that they will have to come back in a few weeks to get their turn. The lineups are huge and some people wait up to 8 hours before being told that they have run out of vaccines on that day..... And then the governing leaders have the gall to wonder why we don't trust them?

Again the PASS (Political Apathy Situation Solution) is simple: think about things, don't react to them..... the whole vaccine situation for the A H1N1 flu of the year 2009 should have been thought about since 1950. If a situation occurs where an entire population needs to be vaccinated, then these are the steps to take... and every 5 years or so, we re-evaluate the procedures and update them as technology or other factors change. We do this so that we don't have a few experts meet in June in reaction to a danger and then try to implement a solution under threat of time and then discover how the system is not working.... well duh! Most are hired to blindly follow contradictory rules and then the leaders who implement these rules are surprised at the results. If you react to a danger, its already too late and you will have to accept the results of your reflexes versus the incoming danger. If you contemplate how to use your reflexes and you make the practice of implementing this on fictional dangers, then as soon as a legitimate danger appears, you are much better prepared. But capitalism doesn't like to invest in thinking, they would rather make profit and react when the water of the sinking ship has reached their cabin.

This brings me to another point, the opposition reacts strongly and claims that the current leader of whatever department should resign..... Why? Would they do any better under this current system? If you have flawed tools, how can you be expected to perform your task as you could? This then brings me to VACUUM thinking (Voter Apathy Considered Using Uncommon Methodologies ie. thinking). See the voter is not apathetic in the politician itself. Candidate A wants to put 25 cents out $100 in the blue cup while Candidate B wants to attribute that same 25 cents in the red cup. Why the hell should the voter care about the 25 cents in the red or blue cup? The system itself is flawed and neither candidate is willing to do anything about it.... So the voter becomes apathetic and either does not vote altogether or chooses quickly to get the entire exercise over and done with. Find me Candidate C who will tell the voter the truth, to function properly we need $400 and we will ignore this $100 constraint we have fictionalized for ourselves and ignore 25 cents for blue or red cups and get the $400 we need and transform society..... and if any rule should prevent us from doing what is right, then we change the rules. Laws are there to serve Justice, if they don't do their job, we change them accordingly. Why do you think Barack Obama from the US had so many people enamoured with him? The slogan "Yes We Can" indicated that he was someone who was actually willing to do what needed to be done..... unfortunately, it did not pan out. Barack suffers from the same problems that Candidate A and B have: flawed bureaucratic tools.

I am all for using tools when they serve my purpose, but when the tools become the master and that I must comply myself to them to function, then I can not do the job as I originally envisioned it and must submit myself to how the tool evolves my problem into a supposed solution..... and history shows that these solutions are illusions and create many more problems. So replace the worker and the new worker will have the same problem with an inadequate tool. Replace the tool and allow the human back in control of his destiny. This will prevent political apathy and also prevent our current crises from becoming the norm. So if the government gives a health warning, it will be legitimate and people will trust it to be legitimate and it will be implemented professionally.

Is the current health warning legitimate? History will answer that like it showed how legitimate the previous health problems were in the 20th century. Do people trust the current government? Only after the media informed us of the tragedy of a teen's death did people run to the vaccination centres, so figure that one out. Are the current vaccines being distributed professionally? The experts reacted to a problem instead of contemplating how to act if a problem should ever occur with the obvious consequences. Experts put faith on dead bureaucratic principles that stifle imagination or initiative and were surprised at how underlings react when no explicit instructions are available when unusual circumstances arise.

So I humoristically say, PASS the buck and do some VACUUM thinking!