I don’t usually reblog opinion pieces, especially from mainstream media, but this one really caught my eye… on several levels. While the writer is right that the cause of vaccine hesitancy and mistrust is the vacuum of reliable information that the medical profession and media used to fill in rural America. He does a masterful job of outlining the decades of underfunding of rural hospitals and medical systems and the declining numbers of hospitals, clinics, doctors, and nurses providing services in rural communities. It is all true. We’ve badly underfunded rural medical care and ignored the growing problems it has caused since Reagan took office. Odd how so many of today’s severe ills trace their roots back to Reagan’s daemon seed, hunh?
He also outlines the decline of local news outlets. The bankrupting of local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. News outlets have been consolidating and being bought up by larger media organizations since before the Interwebs came into widespread use in the mid-nineties.
Without these two trusted sources of information, rural conservative Christian white Americans have turned to the national news outlets like Fox News who have been peddling demonstrable #COVID19 disinformation from the outset of the pandemic. As we’ve demonstrated in other posts, when you trust the source of your information, you believe it. When everyone around believes something to be true, you conclude that it is true. That’s human. And, it makes it harder for people to be dissuaded of their misconceptions.
However, he’s wrong about the reasons for that collapse. Misdiagnosing the reason for the collapse is as dangerous as misdiagnosing a physical illness — you prescribe the wrong treatment and the disease rages on.
Thomson believes that we are all responsible for the collapse of rural healthcare and in the collectivist sense of democratic decision making, we are. We fucked up. We compromised with the Republicans and allowed them to sell us a bill of goods: the profit motive will produce an efficient and effective solution to every problem.
We are all living through the evidence that the only thing the profit motive does is encourage profit-seekers to make more profits often by cutting corners, covering up errors and mistakes, and getting the government to pay for as much as they can. Worse, though, we’ve allowed service sectors that do not respond well to the profit motive — are their any economic sectors that do? — to be taken over by the profit-seekers: healthcare and news.
The insistence on allowing the private sector to have a role in and make profit off of healthcare has produced a horrifically overpriced poor quality service for everyone but the wealthy. The Republicans have been trying to privatize Medicare and Medicaid from their inception. They’ve done everything they can to convince us that they are inefficient and ineffective. They’ve worked hard to stop the ACA and keep it from working to its full capacity.
We are reaping the rewards for allowing them to successfully underfund public health measures and block the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and Medicare benefits.
One of the points of allowing the pandemic to ravage the unvaccinated is to overwhelm an already fragile healthcare system so they can say, “See? Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA, and the Democrat’s big government approach doesn’t work.” Mitch McConnell is practically peeing himself because he has stymied the debt ceiling and government funding just so they can run on the inability of Democrats to govern in 2022. One of Trump’s few articulated policy goals was to end Medicare in his second term, or did we all forget that?
The profit motive has treated the news industry equally as badly. It once was that the news divisions of media companies weren’t expected to make a profit but to provide a public service. Now we’re all chasing clickbait, likes, and shares using the most sensationalist approach to reporting any and all news whether it is on our personal social media accounts or published by a respected and responsible news organization.
The nationalizing of the delivery of the news by large media networks has destroyed the local news outlets. They just couldn’t compete with Fox News, CNN, USA Today, the national edition of the NYT and Washington Post. By driving all of the traffic to a few outlets, the messages being delivered would be in the hands of a few people, so when one outlet, Fox News, amplified pandemic and election disinformation, it reached a lot of people.
If it didn’t sound so paranoid and conspiracy theoryish, I would swear it was all part of some larger plan cooked up by the Koch Bros, Steve Bannon, and the Murdochs and unleashed on the unwitting useful idiots at all of the wanna be Fox News stations out there and conservative social influencers and legislative backbenchers.
Have a read of the opinion piece and tell me what you think the real problem is… in the comments.
Covid vaccine mistrust is fueling a spike in rural deaths. Here’s what’s fueling the mistrust.
Many in rural America have become prey to misinformation and overconfident quacks because they live in health care and media deserts.
By Kerry Thomson, executive director of the Center for Rural Engagement at Indiana University 6 October 2021
When we think of the painful toll of Covid-19, we often picture urban scenes: lines for tests, overflowing hospitals, refrigerated trucks serving as makeshift morgues. Yet, staggering new data shows that the death rate from Covid in rural areas is now double what it is in urban ones. You would think that fact, coupled with medical professionals pleading with people in rural America to get vaccinated, would lead more to get their shots. Yet, people in rural states lead the list of those who remain unvaccinated, putting themselves and others at risk.
It’s enough to make increasingly angry vaccinated people shout: “Why won’t you listen to your doctor?”
To which, I respond: “What if they don’t have one?”
Many in rural America aren’t vaccinated because two pernicious forces — the implosion of the rural health care system and the decay of local news — have left them with limited sources of information. That has allowed them to become prey to misinformation and overconfident quacks.
If you enjoyed this opinion piece on an opion piece about our #COVID19 pandemic debacle, then you should definitely do one or all of the following to encourage me to keep it up:
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