Tag Archives: public health

April 1 cartoon

A Modest Proposal: Rename April 1 Useful Fools Day

Today is April 1, celebrated for centuries as April Fools Day. It’s a day to play pranks on the unsuspecting gullible. Given the current penchant for updating history and renaming symbols, the Just Vote No Blog proposes that April Fools Day be renamed Useful Fools Day. The new name would be more inclusive, and therefore more equitable.

Why the proposal?

Historians disagree on the origins of April Fools Day, but have some likely suggestions, all relating to events in the distant past: celebrations of the cult of Cybele, change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, start of the Vernal Equinox – all old stuff. We need to add to the list a newer event that, as the ones before, produced sufficient confusion to create a large pool of unsuspecting gullible people. Also, we need to update the title of the celebration, since these days simple fools are not anywhere near as visible and important as useful fools.

Event of the 21st Century: Covid-19 Response

The Just Vote No Blog proposes that the outsized response to the Covid-19 pandemic be the 21st Century’s contribution to April 1, and that useful fools be celebrated on that day. The Blog further proposes that celebrations include not only ordinary individuals, but also a lot of Wall Street darlings, public servants, and respected professionals.

A comprehensive list of prominent useful fools would take up several volumes, so here is just a sample of possible candidates for inclusion in the updated April Useful Fools Day.

*Our fearful brethren that support a slash and burn approach to the pandemic in an effort to receive protection and safety. The establishment has been more than happy to grow by leaps and bounds by providing such protection and safety. Problem is, as is usually the case, there is a lot of collateral damage.

Discarded surgical masks strewn along the sidewalk aptly represent COVID-19’s lasting legacy. The federal medical bureaucracy’s response to the pandemic has resulted in a wasteland of lost economic and educational opportunities, psychologically damaged children, terminally lonely nursing home residents, and lives lost to suicide, illicit drug overdoses, and missed diagnoses…

Shameless non-clinician bureaucrats have stolen our lives, stolen the smiles from children’s faces, and bullied a segment of the population into paralyzing fear. Those hiding behind masks (including our precious children) no longer see people as people, but as 170-pound nests of germs and certain death.

Dr. Marilyn Singleton, MD, JD. The New Wasteland: COVID-19’s Shameful Legacy. March 31, 2021.

* Our crony capitalists in technology that turned collaborators in the war against Covid-19. Whether collaboration will protect them against anti-trust intervention and onerous regulation remains to be seen.

A decades-old law shields companies such as Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits over content their users post on their platforms. Now that legislation is under attack as lawmakers look to hold social media firms accountable.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill generally agree that changes need to be made to Section 230, a provision in the Communications Decency Act that gives legal protections to social media companies.

What’s Section 230? The Social Media Law in the Crosshairs of Congress. March 26, 2021.

The government has flailed in its response to the pandemic, and Big Tech has presented itself as a beneficent friend, willing to lend a competent hand. As Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, wrote in April, “The challenges we face demand an unprecedented alliance between business and government.”

What Big Tech Wants Out of the Pandemic. The Atlantic. July-August 2020 issue.

*Our leaders in Washington forge on

Back in January 2021, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on domestic and international travel. A clause that stands out mandates that U.S. agencies study the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination. On March 12, the White House issued a press briefing noting that the private sector and non-profits are taking care of these vaccine certificates with guidance from federal agencies.

We are to rejoice that at present government will not be keeping a central database on who has been vaccinated and who has not. We are also to rejoice Joe Biden is reviving our lives, our businesses and our economy.

Once again we seem to be blind to the collateral damage – the vaccine apps will be the equivalent of the ancient “Quo Vadis?” and the modern equivalent of “show me your papers.”

Old Saying: Nobody is useless; they can always serve as a horrible example

Useful fools are an extremely valuable commodity. They come in all forms – a concerned individual, a greedy corporation, a government on a tyranny dry run. Each hopes for protection, security or power that may or may not materialize. Each deserves a day of celebration dedicated to them.

Pictured Above

Interesting picture on Realm of History website’s article Ancient Romans and Medieval Church: The usual suspects in the origins of April Fools’ Day. From the article,

In any case, historically, April Fools’ Day possibly became a standardized affair by 18th century in Britain. The jests and pranks were especially popular in many parts of Scotland, with people actively participating in concocting fake errands and even inventing the ‘art’ of putting signs on the unsuspecting person’s back.

Bill Gates in 2015: “We Are Not Prepared”

Bill Gates TED Talk

Five years ago Microsoft founder Bill Gates hoped that the Ebola epidemic of 2013 would be the wake-up call that triggered mobilization towards preparedness. In his April 2015 TED Talk Gates said,

If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.

Such prediction becomes credible when we compare efforts at preparing for war vs. efforts at preparing to fighting epidemics.

… we’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents. But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic.

Preparedness for war entails reserves that can be called into action, mobile units that can be deployed where conflicts arise, and on-going assessments of logistics. Such preparedness does not exist in public health systems.

An effective public health system needs not only trained and flexible boots on the ground, but also coordinated scientific and technological support, as Bill Gates suggested.

But in fact, we can build a really good response system. We have the benefits of all the science and technology that we talk about here. We’ve got cell phones to get information from the public and get information out to them. We have satellite maps where we can see where people are and where they’re moving. We have advances in biology that should dramatically change the turnaround time to look at a pathogen and be able to make drugs and vaccines that fit for that pathogen. So we can have tools, but those tools need to be put into an overall global health system.

In his 2015 talk Bill Gates was speaking from the world’s experience with the Ebola epidemic that started in 2013. Ebola was contained by 2016. Except for isolated cases elsewhere, the Ebola epidemic mostly affected populations in West Africa.

Even more difficult to contain without effective public health systems in place are pandemics, which unlike epidemics spread rapidly globally. Epidemiologists estimated deaths from two recent pandemics: the 1968 Hong Kong Flu caused one million deaths worldwide and 100,000 in the U.S., and the 2009 Swine Flu 575,400 deaths worldwide and 12,469 in the U.S.

Today we are suffering through COVID-19, not a strain of influenza, but a coronavirus in the same family as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, first emerged in 2002, deaths worldwide 813, fatality rate 9.5%), and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, first emerged in 2012, deaths 858, fatality rate 34%).

Preparedness for COVID-19 is minimal in most countries. In the U.S. there is scarcity of tests and protective gear, insufficient hospital beds, inadequate logistics for keeping grocery shelves stocked, no plan to quickly move school aged children from crowded brick and mortar facilities to small groups or on-line instruction. We are left with lockdowns that will result in massive economic and social disruptions.

Effective public health structures that defend populations against disease cost money. However, such public structures are not built by government throwing money at schemes like Medicare for everyone or universal health care. They are built by intelligent research and development, flexible logistics for people and equipment, absence of excessive red tape, and ample market competition that brings costs down.

Also, the costs of effective health structures must be compared to economic upheavals incurred by lockdowns and absences from work as we are seeing with COVID-19.  As Bill Gates said,

I don’t have an exact budget for what this would cost, but I’m quite sure it’s very modest compared to the potential harm.

Today we are seeing the harm brought about by unpreparedness.   Hopefully after COVID-19 is past, we will see determination towards preparedness.