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stoneunhinged
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Perhaps most of you have already heard something about the E.coli outbreak here in Germany. It's spreading:

http://www.freep.com/article/20110604/NE......ountries

I thought I'd follow in gdw's footsteps, throw on a professor's cap, and provoke a discussion. I'll explicitly state my views up front.

It seems to me that an outbreak of contagious disease is an excellent example of something better handled by public agencies than private ones. Such an outbreak concerns the entire community at large, requires coordination with other communities, and also requires the accountability and objectivity that non-commercial agencies provide more effectively (though not necessarily more efficiently) than commercial ones. Private foundations might provide similar services, but at some point they would almost certainly receive some kind of governmental supervision or financing in order to provide better services to the public, because at heart the issue concerns the public qua public.

Mind you, I can think of dozens of these sorts of things, but for today's class session I'd like to limit discussion (I'm wearing the professor's cap, remember?) to the following proposal:

As public health is a legitimate community concern, the tracking of deadly communicable diseases--with a view toward the prevention of outbreaks, epidemics, or pandemics--out to be done by public agencies which are accountable to the citizens and their elected officials rather than commercial interests.

Discuss.

Oh, and in my classroom beer is allowed:

:stout: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
:stout: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
:stout: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
:stout: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
:stout: Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
rossmacrae
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Quote:
On 2011-06-04 05:00, stoneunhinged wrote:

It seems to me that an outbreak of contagious disease is an excellent example of something better handled by public agencies than private ones. Such an outbreak concerns the entire community at large...


Let's see which happens first, if it gets to the U.S.:

We eradicate it ... yay!

or some D-list star goes on Oprah (or whatever) and claims that the very best tool against the e. coli causes autism, and that she has a "right" to opt her family out of the precautions (thus opening up her entire community to periodic outbreaks),

or some dimwit refuses to cooperate with hygienic measures because the preventive protocol represents a liberal conspiracy to pollute our precious bodily fluids,

or someone claims that the measures certainly work, but he and his family won't follow them because he "believes God doesn't allow it" (all you have to say to completely stymie all common sense is that you "believe" otherwise, and you're bulletproof).
Magnus Eisengrim
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This reminds me of an outbreak of "mad cow disease" in Alberta a few years ago. Our Conservative and hilariously politically incorrect premier at the time, Ralph Klein, noted that farmers should be rewarded for bringing these cases to the public's attention otherwise the market would simply encourage them to "shoot, shovel and shut up".

A similar agricultural situation exists in Australia. To protect the integrity of the industry (a "commons" to bring back an old discussion) visitors go through extra scrutiny when entering the country. So far, Australia has managed to keep its very profitable agriculture industry protected from a number of offshore infections. It is hard to imagine how non-collective action could be so effective.

And as for beer, I picked up some Unibroue last night--by far the best and most interesting food and drink in this country comes from Québec--private enterprise with a strong public identity. But as it's 7:52 a.m. I think I'll wait for Game 2 of the Cup tonight.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Woland
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In effect, Magnus, Ralph was just suggesting creating a different market incentive. You'll note he didn't offer to imprison farmers who didn't bring forth their mad cows, but to reward farmers who did. Market forces at work, work better.
Woland
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One thing that is different in the USA, is that the USDA and the FDA allow companies to sterilize food by irradiation, something that the EU may want to consider in the near future . . . .
Magnus Eisengrim
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Quote:
On 2011-06-04 10:02, Woland wrote:
In effect, Magnus, Ralph was just suggesting creating a different market incentive. You'll note he didn't offer to imprison farmers who didn't bring forth their mad cows, but to reward farmers who did. Market forces at work, work better.


Sure, but he advocated a publicly motivated, funded and controlled incentive.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Woland
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Ok, essentially he convinced the taxpayers to pony up, but it was still presented to the farmers as a way to market sick cattle.
Magnus Eisengrim
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On 2011-06-04 12:08, Woland wrote:
Ok, essentially he convinced the taxpayers to pony up, but it was still presented to the farmers as a way to market sick cattle.


I'm not sure what you mean. He was advocating a way for farmers to responsibly NOT market sick cattle and for health protection agencies to gather data to eradicate the illness.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
critter
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I'm not worried. I don't even like tomatoes.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
Woland
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No, Magnus, he was creating a market FOR sick cattle, so that farmers would not be tempted to "mislabel" them as healthy and sell them on the market for healthy cattle . . . .
stoneunhinged
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The latest report is that the culprit was probably bean sprouts:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun......-sprouts
Woland
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What a disaster.
critter
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Quote:
On 2011-06-06 04:52, stoneunhinged wrote:
The latest report is that the culprit was probably bean sprouts:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun......-sprouts


So it's not tomatoes? Dang it.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
Woland
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So what's more dangerous, food irradiation or organic farming?
critter
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Oh for **** sakes.

Anyway... After reading the article, it appears that tomatoes are still among the enemies. Excellent. ****ing tomatoes.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
stoneunhinged
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One of the most interesting things about this whole episode is that I brought it up as an example of how governmental agencies ought to be responsible for certain things.

BUT:

note that there are a hell of a lot of angry farmers in Germany and Spain who have lost tens of millions of Euros worth of crops because of the false identification of cucumbers as the culprit (and yes, critter, tomatoes--which I myself also cannot abide eating raw).

Had the market--and only the market--taken care of this, many more people would probably have gotten ill or died before anyone figured out what was going on. But the farmers in Spain wouldn't be clamoring for compensation.
Woland
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Stone, there's clearly a role for public agencies here. It's also to the advantage of the farmers that there be some sort of impartial judge of problems like this. Who made the initial false identification, by the way?
landmark
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Quote:
On 2011-06-06 10:38, Woland wrote:
So what's more dangerous, food irradiation or organic farming?

From Rodeo Clown News (with a tip of the hat to Woland) it turns out organic sprouts are probably not the cause of the outbreak:

Quote:
Sprouts Not Apparently Cause of E. Coli Outbreak

Updated: Monday, 06 Jun 2011, 10:40 AM CDT
Published : Monday, 06 Jun 2011, 10:33 AM CDT

BERLIN (AP) - German officials say initial tests show that sprouts from an organic farm in the country's north are not the cause of the E. coli outbreak.

Lower-Saxony state's agriculture ministry said Monday that 23 of 40 samples from the sprout farm suspected of being behind the outbreak have tested negative for the relevant bacteria.

It said further tests are pending.
stoneunhinged
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Quote:
On 2011-06-06 11:55, Woland wrote:
Who made the initial false identification, by the way?


I'm assuming it was a private lab working under government contract, but I'll have to look for an answer to that question. The point, of course, is that it was a government official who recommended that everyone abstain from cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce. When you advise 80,000,000 potential consumers to stay away from something, it has an impact.

Meanwhile, there is this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun......ot-cause
gdw
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Quote:
On 2011-06-06 10:45, critter wrote:
Oh for **** sakes.

Anyway... After reading the article, it appears that tomatoes are still among the enemies. Excellent. ****ing tomatoes.


Man, I was hoping we might have to call on George Clooney.
It's amazing, people will criticize you for "biting the hand that feeds you," while they're busy praising the hand that beats them.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

I won't forget you Robert.
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