14 October 2004

2. Flu Shots

Bush discussed the government's response to the recent flu vaccine shortage.

Verbal trips at this point were telling. Bush started out saying, “We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a” but then quickly reworded his statement “-- help us realize the vaccine necessary.” I don’t know what “realizing a vaccine means.” I suppose the question was a bit embarrassing for Bush, who hasn’t allowed imports of Canadian drugs since the U.S. government can't ensure their safety (if only Bush was so proactive concerning the environment). Bush tried to turn the discussion to his advantage when he said, “One of the reasons I'm such a strong believer in legal reform is so that people aren't afraid of producing a product that is necessary for the health of our citizens and then end up getting sued in a court of law.” This principled advocacy of laissez-faire economics would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that Bush is an advocate of government interventionalism when it comes to the import of drugs from Canada—even if this means people won’t be able to afford needed medication.

Kerry painted a dismal picture of the worsening U.S. health system. Of course, it isn’t clear how Kerry would fix this either. His idea of allowing the free market to operate and thereby reduce drug costs might have positive effect but doesn't tackle the full extent of the healthcare crisis. Understandably, Kerry doesn’t seem to be willing to take on the sensitive issue of fixing health care in a fundamental way during an election year. On this issue, we voters have failed the system by not holding both candidates feet over the fire.

No comments: