The New York Daily News recently ran an op-ed piece with the headline, "Got flu vaccine? Thank big gov't: The H1N1 response is a great example of your tax dollars at work." The article, by Mathew Dallek, the acting director of the University of California, Davis, Washington Program and a Shapiro Fellow at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs, says, "The government's handling of the H1N1 flu vaccine offers a vivid example of federal action that is clearly beneficial to the vast majority of the American people. So, how about a round of applause for 'big government'? Don't hold your breath. Four decades worth of anti-Washington fervor simply runs too deep for rays of gratitude to break through the dark clouds… bashing government ought to be less of a knee-jerk default position in our society; even anti-government ideologues should acknowledge when the feds get a big issue right."
Hmm. How's this for getting "a big issue right"? The government, the New York Times reports, says it will have only 28 million doses of vaccine available, far less than the 160 million they had predicted, and that as a result, supplies of the vaccine are "short." NPR reports that in Los Angeles, people waited in line for three hours for a dose of the vaccine, and it quotes a Harvard School of Public Health doctor as saying, "It's hard to make an argument that the vaccine is going to protect very many people at the rate it's coming out." You don't have to be a knee-jerk anti-government ideologue to wonder if maybe this isn't exactly the best or most vivid example of the feds getting a big issue right. It may, in fact, be an example of government getting a big issue wrong.