Ron Paul: Looks like our government is getting us pretty upset and concerned about the swine flu. This is interesting to me not only for political reasons but also as a physician. It makes me think back to 1976 which was the first year I served in the Congress, when we had a vote on the swine flu. Back then there was a panic and they said it was going to sweep the nation and they rapidly came out with some flu shots and the government was going to inoculate everybody and save the world from this disaster.
I remember there were two votes against it: myself and Larry McDonald, another physician. It turned out, though, that our instincts were correct. Not only did we object to it because we didn’t think the government should be in the medical business and making these medical decisions, but it turned out that the instincts were absolutely right because the flu came and the flu went, and one person died, except for those individuals who died from getting the flu vaccine and over 25 people died just from getting the vaccine and many got ill from it, until finally they had to suspend the whole program.
But here we are once again. The swine flu is coming up and everybody is panicking. And this is not to downplay the seriousness. Some people have died, some people might die yet. We have had no deaths in this country, but there are 7 or 8 cases up in New York and none have even been hospitalized and yet it’s practically like we’ve been attacked by nuclear weapons. I mean, the press conference over the weekend, a prime item for the Department of Homeland Security – how did the Department of Homeland Security get into the medical business? You know, it’s just totally out of control on what they think we should do.
But trying to put this in a perspective I checked to find out how many cases of tuberculosis we had last year. We had about 13,000 cases of tuberculosis. Now that’s a serious disease. Also, the last time they recorded the number of deaths in this country was in 2006 and there were 644 deaths from tuberculosis. Now I hate to even bring that subject up to try to put this in a proper perspective, because maybe tomorrow they’re going to quarantine everybody in the world coming in to this country to watch out for tuberculosis.
All these things are very serious, and the big question is, does a bigger government always solve these problems? They usually make things much worse. So all I’m asking people to do is step back and think for a minute rather than rushing and panicking and taking advantage of opportunities like this. This is what happens, whether there are economic problems or medical problems, the people who love big government take advantage of this. And in the Department of Homeland Security [Janet Napolitano] really isn’t acting outside the prerogatives of that department. And one of the reasons I voted against it is that it’s an open door invitation to deal with medical problems. And of course, the way I see it, medical care in this country is deteriorating and the costs are sky rocketing mainly because we’ve had central economic planning in medicine now for 37 years.
It hasn’t worked very well, so now we’re about to embark on socialized medicine but I just don’t think that we need the government in this manner dealing with this problem in a hysterical manner. We ought to just sit back and think about it for a minute and maybe we’ll come to our senses. But certainly it isn’t the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security even though technically they might have the authority. To me, the medical care of this country is not something that should be turned over to that department.