Click the link below to hear today’s “Pat Political Point” from WSGW’s First Day show. I talked about how America’s collective freak-out over the Ebola virus is leading us down the path to poor policy solutions. But that’s been the game, of late.
“Pat Political Point” on Ebola & Fear. From the 10/19/14 edition of WSGW’s “First Day.”
So, did you see the story where a teacher in the state of Maine has been put on a 21 day leave of absence because she attended an education conference in Dallas?
Dallas, of course, is where three cases of Ebola have occurred. All of the cases happened in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The first case is, of course, the man who contracted the virus from Liberia, and later died at that hospital. The other two were nurses who cared for that man, and later contracted it.
The teacher from Maine did not enter that hospital. The teacher from Maine attended a conference that was located almost 10 miles away from that hospital. If the city of Dallas used this school district’s rationale, no one child or teacher would attend school for the 21 day incubation period.
I suppose that means everyone should stay away from Dallas, then.
This is just part of the Ebola hysteria that’s overtaking this country. And now, politics are getting involved. It is an election year, after all, and the party out of power (the Republicans) is trying to cash-in on Ebola. I’m not critical over Republicans by using Ebola for political purposes. The game of politics is a rough sport, and just about everything is fair game, I suppose. Plus, the party that occupies the White House understands that whenever there’s a failure in the federal government system, it’s the White House that first has to answer for that failure.
I get that.
What I don’t understand is why Republicans and conservatives alike believe banning flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. To be fair, there are also some reactionary Democrats demanding the Obama administration to institute a travel ban to those countries.
But the only problem with the travel ban is that while it might make us–here in America–feel better, it doesn’t really solve anything. It could make things worse, actually.
For starters, never mind that there are no direct flights between those countries and the U.S., as Republican Congressman Dennis Ross–who’s sponsoring a travel ban bill–had to painfully learn while doing a TV interview on Friday. ]
NO DIRECT FLIGHTS!
But the congressman is pushing forward with his bill, apparently, because why let logic get in the way of fear and emotion!
Remember how I talked about fear a few weeks ago, and how the main point of fear is to conquer us. That’s what is happening in this instance.
Yes, Ebola is deadly and is totally not cool. As a hypochondriac, I know I don’t want to get infected. In fact, I’ve always wanted to wear a hazmat suit whenever I’m on a plane! We should also be taking this virus seriously, which is why we must contain it here in this country by ensuring those possibly infected don’t get on planes or on cruise ships.
That being said, fear of Ebola shouldn’t result in creating dumb policy.
The National Review’s Marc Siegel illustrates this point perfectly. After listing reasons why the travel ban probably won’t work, Siegel appears to give up and concedes that a travel ban must be intituted if only to calm our fears:
I’m not convinced medically — I don’t believe that a travel ban against the Ebola-afflicted countries in West Africa will be particularly effective, it may even be counterproductive, and it certainly isn’t coming from the strongest side of what being an American means. But as fear of Ebola and fear of our leaders’ ineptitude grows, I think we must have a ban to patch our battered national psyche.
So, since we can’t control our fear of Ebola, we’ll end up passing a bill that hurts rather than helps to solve this current epidemic. That’s bad policy created simply due to fear. Sadly, that’s usually what happens in this country all too often.
The Patriot Act quickly ran through Congress and was signed into law by President Bush, and it wasn’t until years later that we learned how our civil liberties had eroded all in the name of fear.
There are people in power fighting to pass a bill that would be counterproductive to the Ebola fight, but they’re willing to do it, anyway, because…well…just because.
Yet, these same people who are freaking out over Ebola spreading throughout the U.S. had no problem blocking President Obama’s choice for Surgeon General.
Why don’t they want a general in charge to fight the spread of Ebola?
Why do they instead want a czar? I thought czars were bad?