We are all going to die sometime and from some cause, natural or otherwise. In 2005, the last year for which data are available, more than 45,000 Americans died from automobile accidents, and nearly 20,000 died from simple falls of one sort or another. Should we never step foot in a car or bathtub again for fear it might kill us?
Communicable diseases are scary. But common sense and good hygiene are the best protection. This is not 1918 -- when the so-called Spanish flu, which may well have been a variant of swine flu -- killed more 50 million people worldwide. We have antibiotics and antiviral drugs. People are more educated and understand how disease spreads. And we have ways to communicate real threats when they occur, and to do so almost instantaneously.
But we also have the ability to spread misinformation and terror more broadly than at any time in history. The media make matters worse by screaming headlines and nonstop cable coverage on each new case that breaks out. This is the time for cool heads and genuine leadership. President Obama has shown both. Unfortunately, his second-in-command hasn't. Perhaps the most constructive thing the White House could do until swine flu blows over is quarantine the vice president.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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