Soapbox: Stopping earth-threatening diseases not on America’s agenda


Fear of a zombie apocalypse is considered irrational. Science simply does not support the ultimate eradication of the entire human race due to people rising from the dead in the quest for fresh brains.

However, science does support the dangers of global and epidemics that could actually kill off the human species, yet this is placed on the backburner to the fantasy realm of zombies.

Humans are prey to deadly diseases. For evidence, just look at history.

The Black Plague killed nearly one-third of Europe’s population in the 14th century; the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 is estimated to have killed up to 50 million people worldwide. Since 1984, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS.

It’s important to note that present-day, panic enevoking diseases, like Zika or Ebola, are not new.

Zika was first discovered in 1947 and Ebola in 1976.

Recently, widespread epidemics of Zika and Ebola have been accumulating dead bodies, but we pretend that it’s not a problem in the U.S., so why pour resources into research?

Of course, moments arise when it does become an American problem.

The first time will be when an American gets ill.

In September 2014, the first U.S. Ebola victim was identified, which was followed by widespread panic and the U.S.’s reluctant involvement.

The second major problem arises when dangerous diseases are prevalent in other countries that effect the global environment.

Many global communities are squandered in poverty because large sections of their population are infected with AIDS, malaria or other illnesses that prevent people from living a comfortable, healthy life.

These diseases exhaust their meager resources, and strain the global economy.

In February, President Obama attempted to pass a bill that would grant $1.9 billion in emergency funding to help fight Zika.

The disease, spread mostly by a certain type of mosquito, poses a prominent threat­­­—especially to pregnant women, who show relatively no symptoms until their child is born with birth defects.

Congress  still blocked the bill for several months until finally agreeing in June to donate $1.1 billion. But strings were attached.

The Republican-controlled Senate tried to tack provisions onto the bill that defunded Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to relocate those funds to the Zika budget.

Democrats in Congress found it necessary to reject the bill because the proposed spending cuts deteriorate progress made on those critical issues.

Republican Senator John Barrasso from Wyoming fired back, accusing Democrats of being “more focused on protecting the mosquito than they are protecting people.”

The bill failed for the third time at the start of this month as compromise still couldn’t be made.

If Congress can’t settle on a new budget by the end of the month, it risks shutting down as it did in 2013. There is no reason why these government programs should be defunded.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that since the creation of the ACA, more than 16 million people who were previously uninsured have received health insurance, saving them an estimated $12 billion on healthcare.

Defunding this program would actually incur more costs than it would save. Similarly, because Zika can be transferred sexually, Planned Parenthood may help stop the spread because they provide contraception which helps prevent the spread of STDs.

Also, not to be ignored, is the actual percentage of the federal budget that goes toward foreign aid

According to NPR, in 2015, less than one percent of the more than $4 trillion federal budget was spent on foreign aid.  

We must also not forget the fact that the government wastes money on impractical projects. Like the $350,000 study of the 1972 video game Pong or the $3.1 billion to send federal employees on vacation.

In 2011, NBC News found that the U.S. zombie industry earned $5.7 billion.

This means people are willingly throwing cash at zombie-themed materialism for entertainment, but when it comes to actually preventing the epidemics of the 21st century, we can’t even round up $1.1 billion to save actual lives.


Destiny is an English and nternational affairs major from Mitchell, S.D.

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