Thursday, September 18, 2014

Natural, old-fashioned measles treatments

There is a saying that runs through the modern-day anti-vaccination lobby that goes along the lines of "in the old days, measles was considered a normal part of childhood and the best way to deal with it was to make your child catch it off another child."

I'm sure you've heard it. In fact, the idea is so ingrained, and so pernicious, that some people, today, even arrange "measles parties" while others will send you a lollipop licked by an infected child, so you can transfer the infection, on purpose, to your own child.

The argument from the anti-vax lobby is that the old method of sharing measles only went away when pharmaceutical companies decided to make money from selling vaccines against a variety of childhood diseases. Measles was always considered a harmless disease, they say, until vaccines were invented, at which point we started to be told it was deadly.

But are they right on either count?


I was just searching through the Trove archive of Australian newspapers and came across an article (among a great many articles mentioning measles deaths). I felt this article was especially relevant to the dilemma we face today in combating people who remain staunchly anti-science and anti-medicine.

Measles Deaths. Perth Daily News - July 8, 1916

Here are some excepts from this lengthy article, published almost 50 years before the measles virus was isolated and a vaccine developed.

The old idea that all children must have measles, some time or other, dies hard, and is productive of much mischief. In spite of the progress supposed to have been made in educating the masses during the last twenty years, the practice of putting children who have not yet suffered from the disease to bed with one who has just succumbed, in order to 'get it over,' is not an uncommon one, and many deaths are due to it. It is not at all necessary that children should have measles, and the longer such an attack can be staved off, the better the chance of recovery. For one child who dies of this complaint between the ages of ten and fifteen, 630 die if they contract the affection during the first twelve months of life, 263 if two years old, 142 at three years, ninety-one at four years, and twenty-two if the victim is between five: and ten years of age. If these figures are carefully considered it will be realised how truly fatal the disease is amongst young children, and the wilful exposure of those of tender years to certain infection -- for measles, is the 'most infectious of all the acute fevers -— is nothing short of being criminal.

And on the question of measles being a mild childhood disease, from the same article - published long before "Big Pharma" got their money-grubbing clutches on our children's health...

In England and Wales alone some thirteen thousand little ones die every year from measles, or, rather, from the pneumonia of convalescence.

And if 98 years ago isn't quite old-fashioned enough for you, how about 118 years ago...

This Is a very common disease among children, and some people think that every one ought to have an attack. At any rate, there are mothers who do not take much trouble to prevent one child from infecting others.
In many families it is the custom to avoid medical attendance in eases of this fever, because the attack is often so slight. But this neglect is very often fatal, and leads to the misfortune of an inquest, because if no doctor has attended a case, and yet the patient dies, there is no one to give a certificate of death. Measles is really very often fatal because it possesses an unfortunate tendency to render patients liable to congestion of the lungs, pleurisy, and bronchitis; and the former of these diseases very often leads to death within 48 hours. 

As with most things they profess to be factual, the anti-vax lobby are completely wrong on this issue. Over 100 years ago, before our grandparents were even born, experts were warning against the idea of purposely exposing your children to "normal" childhood diseases and newspapers were littered with stories of fatalities from the disease.

Measles is not a gift. Measles is not marvelous. Measles can kill. Measles is currently working its way through children in Western Australia. Luckily, today, we have a vaccination against it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Comedy of the week

And this week in comedy we had Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, trying to sell us a turd.

And his parliamentary colleagues telling us he wasn't polishing it right.

You have to laugh.

Twitter storm: #OtherThingsThePoorDontDo

Friday, August 8, 2014

No, Minister.

Faced with some tough questions over his decision to attend a conference with a distinctly anti-abortion aroma,  federal minister Eric Abetz thought it might be useful to mention a 60-year-old study that may have proposed a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Medical authorities have slammed the commentary as "incredibly dangerous". There is apparently no scientific evidence to support any such link and his anti-science comment was further likened to that of anti-vaccinationists who ignorantly insist there's a link between immunisation and autism.

As time goes by, the reasons behind Tony Abbott's decision to have no Science Minister in his government are becoming more clear. There seemingly isn't anyone in cabinet who understands the fundamentals.

Abbott government, joe hockey, double dissolution

Thursday, July 31, 2014

MH17 scam alert

An alert has been issued to be wary of potential scams seeking to profit from the recent MH17 tragedy.

"...the media and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reported that fake Facebook profiles had been set up in the names of Australians who lost their lives when the Malaysian Airlines flight came down in Ukraine.

It is understood that the profiles directed you to a blog, supposedly containing information about MH17. When you clicked through there were a series of pop-up advertisements – the scammers make money from clicks on the pop-up advertisements because the adverts take you through to a business website."

I suspect there will also be  a slew of self-proclaimed psychics trying to get in on  the act by taking advantage of vulnerable people's grief, claiming to contact their deceased relatives and screwing with the very real memories of loved ones.

Unfortunately, these sorts of scammers do not get mentioned on government scam-watch-type websites despite overwhelming evidence that they are, for the most part, perpetrating a well-understood type of fraud.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Greens cold on Parental Leave scheme

News today that the Greens have gone cold on their expected support for the Abbott Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme - but their lack of support is for the wrong reasons.

For many years, the Greens have been seen to be defendants of the underprivileged, to the extent many people paint them as the political far left. Middle-class welfare is not something we'd usually expect the Greens to support, especially when the sick, the poor and the unemployed are being told to tighten their belts.

But when it comes to Paid Parental Leave, the Greens put on their social-equity blinkers and actually support the idea that the rich should receive higher benefits than the poor, ensuring that divide can only grow wider - much, much wider.

Even after the widespread benefit-slaughter that was announced in the May Budget, the Greens were still considering supporting a PPL scheme that would see wealthy families paid more than $50,000 in welfare over just six months. That's almost eight times as much as the "unaffordable" School Kids Bonus paid over 12 years - and, contrary to standard welfare practice, you have to be already wealthy to qualify for the full PPL entitlement.

But the Greens were still prepared to support it.

The reason the Greens aren't supporting Abbott's scheme now, it seems, is because they haven't seen the funding - and reports suggest there's a $5.4B shortfall from the big-business tax that was supposed to fund it.

"The Coalition’s election policy shows the PPL payments would cost $9.8bn over four years, but the levy would raise only $4.4bn over the same period, with the gap covered by replacing an existing federal scheme and making cuts to parental leave for state and federal public servants."

The Greens know everything they need to know from a social-equity perspective. It's expensive. It heavily favours the rich. It drastically increases the rich-poor divide. It further marginalises stay-at-home parents, already demonised in political circles. It comes at a time when a raft of welfare benefits are being slashed.

Hell, it could probably be argued that such massive financial support for wealthy two-income families will be bad for the environment as it increases their ability to consume. And consume they will.

But the Greens were still prepared to support it, if only they'd seen the funding details.

No matter how the welfare benefit is funded, it will still be public money being spent on supporting the lifestyles of the relatively wealthy. No matter how this welfare benefit is funded, no matter where the money comes from, it will still be a case of "the richer you are, the more benefit you receive". It's money for back yard pools, restaurant dinners, a boat or holidays overseas. It is a lifestyle supplement. It is welfare, for the wealthy. Families who are struggling to feed and clothe their children won't see a cent of it.

But the Greens were prepared to support it - if all the money was raised from a new tax on big business (despite the fact the government had already announced an equivalent cut in the company tax rate).

The idea that the government can simply impose a new tax to raise the money to pay for this scheme - and that this means it isn't a welfare benefit - is patent nonsense. If things are so easily funded, by imposing a new tax and declaring it separate from general revenue, we could fund everything we've ever wanted to fund and no one, apparently, would care.

Both Abbott and the Greens have tried to play semantic games by insisting Paid Parental Leave is not welfare but a "workplace entitlement". Yes, I believe that. I also believe "a levy isn't a tax" and that the May Budget is entirely consistent with election promises.

Paid Parental Leave, when paid by the government to private-sector employees, is welfare and, in the case of Abbott and the Greens, it's heavily weighted for the benefit of the rich.

No matter how it is supposed to be funded, it will still be implemented at a time when low-income families, pensioners, the sick and the unemployed are being told to tighten their belts and that "the age of entitlement is over". How the supposedly left-of-centre Greens could consider supporting any welfare-for-the-rich scheme under those circumstances, is beyond me - regardless of any supposed funding model.

Either the government has money for welfare, or it doesn't. It doesn't matter what new taxes they impose to raise the money.

In other news, it seems Rupert Murdoch was made privy to details of the scheme before Mr Abbott had even bothered to tell his own political colleagues about it. According to reports, Mr Murdoch considered the scheme to be "visionary". That's hardly surprising given that the government was going to spend billions on a scheme that is supposed to be a workplace entitlement.

I imagine chief business leaders would be pleased if the government would take on all their workplace expenses.

The Greens would probably support it too - if it was funded "appropriately".


ABBOTT'S PPL: Even businesswomen don't support it. No one supports it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Day of the Endarkenment

Today is a dark day in Australian politics.

Today, the Palmer United party sold-out average Australians and sided with the Abbott-led Federal Government to repeal Australia's Carbon Tax.

At a time when the government is slashing benefits for pensioners and the unemployed because we can't afford it...

At a time when the government is proposing to slash funding to education because we can't afford it...

At a time when the government is proposing to slash health funding because we can't afford it...

At a time when that same government is proposing to impose a fee on the sick seeking treatment because we need the money...

At a time when the government is proposing to increase the debt burden of tertiary students, because we can't afford to support their education...

At a time when the Federal Government constantly whines that we have to tighten the belt and rid ourselves of any sense of entitlement, because we just don't have the money to continue due to a supposed budget black hole...

Today, the government has dumped a revenue-raising measure on the basis that it raises too much money.

Today is a dark day in Australian politics.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vaccination - if only

I just watched a new video, produced by Richard Saunders, which features stories told by people who have been affected in some way by vaccine preventable diseases.

If you're wondering whether or not vaccination is for your kids, you should probably take a look.

I recommend clicking on the YouTube logo at the bottom-right of the video to view it at full size.