Politics

Covid vaccine mistrust is fueling a spike in rural deaths. Here’s what’s fueling the mistrust. — NBC News


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 testsoverflowing 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.


Continue reading at NBCNews: Covid vaccine mistrust is fueling a spike in rural deaths. Here’s what’s fueling the mistrust.


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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Image Attribution

“Abandoned Hospital Monsour Medical Center” by Darryl W. Moran Photography is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

27 replies »

  1. As is my wont, boiled down to ones and zeros, balls firmly on the brass monkey, I come back to, find the root in, the repubs’ active sabotage of the education system. Go take a look at the HS grad requirements from the year you were born, I’ll wait …

    I am still so frustrated, at bare minimum, with how my academic career ended I just haven’t given this much thought in probably ten years. Heartening to note someone in the mainstream recently published a skreed re the corporatizing of higher education, but that doesn’t address thi problem, the problem of the majority who barely (if) make it out of high school. The number one culprit in that (as it was with me and the religious nutball with half my education and half my experience but none-the-less in a position to get away with it) is the influence of religion not just at the local school boards but in the classrooms, the office. For all practical purposes, leaving aside they may well be pawns in a grander game, these people have chosen to be stupid, dragging the rest of us with them.

    In spite of our advances, the greater pool of knowledge and the technological means to deliver, I, a middle-school dropout, had no trouble tutoring my kids through school, and these days having even less trouble tutoring my grands. My last gig was tutoring TANF (welfare) recipients (itself “Green Thumb” senior welfare) that ran the gamut from HS dropouts to old mill-rats that haven’t gotten over the mills closing down. The lack of fundamental foundations is appalling. Not just dumbed-down either, as bad as the mainstream media.

    Again, I am (still) so frustrated with this I can’t do it justice, probably just should have kept quiet.

    The root of the problem, The Root Of All Evil, is the Christian religion. The Church …

    (consider for a moment, if you would, how the moon and all of the night sky reflects in a single drop of dew)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten!

      I’ve been pondering the same pile of infuriating stinking shit… and I’m an educator. I teach middle school and high school, albeit at international schools where I teach the upper echelons of privilege. Most of the kids are good people, but there is no cultural or factual literacy any more. Part of the reason for that is the way education is run as an industry or profession.

      When I was a social worker, I read the professional journals and books, and they all read pretty much the same as some variation on, “Studies suggest that…” or “When we varied this little thingee here, this big thingee over here always changed in the same way.” When you read how-to-be-a-teacher books and journals which pass for the professional literature, they all begin with some variation of “Little Johnny used to sit under his desk all day and eat the boogers stuck to the bottom of the desk, until Mr. Wiggins tried this one weird trick and now Johnny is a model well-adjusted eager student.” It’s all anecdotal and opinion and very little based on anything even remotely resembling empirical research. The GRE scores required to get into graduate schools of education are being able to mark the page with some kind of writing implement.

      Don’t get me wrong, teachers, by-and-large, are good people who are competent at what they do, but they all believe that we should be teaching thinking skills because of the anecdotal and non-empirical BS that passes for educational professional literature. The cognitive psychological research tells us that you can’t teach thinking skills without first having something to think about and that those thinking skills don’t transfer from one situation to another. So, we’re basically wasting our fucking time because no one wants to teach content — it’s all changing so fast that whatever we teach them now will be obsolete, better to teach them how to think. Fuck me.

      Then there is the feminization of education at the turn of the last century. Since teaching is seen as a female profession most men figure they can tell the little ladies how it is done because there ain’t nothing a woman is doing or knowing that a man ain’t doing or knowing better, amirite? And if it ain’t so, we can prove it by beating them into an early grave, amirite? I read recently that murder is one of the leading killers of pregnant women or women postpartum, 16% higher than for non-pregnant or recently having given birth. It ain’t drive bys and mass shootings at the grocery store that’s doing these women in.

      Then there is the GQP who, like Trump said, “Loves the uneducated.” And, studies suggest that the conservatives have worser critical thinking skills and less emotional control.

      Christianity is all about the money and has been since the Romans adopted it. Then along came Calvin, and it was the race to prosperity Christianity and Joel Olsteen began. Greed can cause any amount of rationalization to occur to justify whatever it is you’re doing to get an extra bit of coin.

      Our democracy is literally drowning in money.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  2. Sinclair Broadcasting has been another pernicious source of misinformation. Many rural people still rely most heavily on local TV and AM radio stations. Sinclair has snatched up 100s of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Carol!

      Good point. I was thinking of Sinclair as I wrote about the number of local stations having been bought up but it never made it into the post.

      We are drowning in money… literally. The rich have gotten to be so rich that they can and are buying everything. The concentration of wealth in the top echelon may have progressed so far and become the corruption so pernicious that we may not be able to stop it. Right now it is two bought senators that are holding up even the little bit of feeble pushback that the Democratic party is making.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The country doctor in lonely private practice who grew up there, went off to college and medical school and came back to live out his life serving and caring for the people of his home town, and sometimes taking payment in chickens, eggs or bacon, is long gone, and in significant part a myth to begin with.

    So, what’s the cause? The same as the cause of ballooning student debt, of under-funded public schools being taken over by for-profit charters, of the manufactured bankruptcy of the Post Office, redefining activities, services, and resources which properly belong in the public sector, The Commons, as private goods, and leaving them to the untender mercies of the Tragedy of the Commons (just like or idea that the profit motive will prevent or clean up pollution and stop deforestation).

    It doesn’t take the addition of some evil intent and ambition to all that to get to where we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right. Greed will lead minds to come to similar conclusions and take similar actions because greed can always find a justification and a way, just ask John Roberts.

      Everytime I turn on the “news” nowadays I hear the same misdirects no matter which side of the aisle the news is generated by. Everybody is looking and pointing and scratching their asses saying that it makes no sense and no one is pointing at the vast amounts of cash being spent by PACs on politicians and the parties as maybe being part of the problem.

      Cooler heads may prevail and realize that the transfer of wealth can continue to the 1% a lot longer if the US remains a democracy and doesn’t destroy its economy by sliding into autocracy and whatever resulting civil unrest that will bring and the chaos to the world order as China moves into the vacuum we leave.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is a remarkable measurement of the scale of that greed in the news about the Pandora Papers, and the corruption that goes with them. There is an Everest size mountain of dark money out there, and it touches everything. With a hefty dose of luck, some prosecutors in many places will find money they have been looking for for a long time.

        China is biding its time, building its influence base, and figuring out how to make the shift away from fossil fuels without crashing its economy (and become the leading super power in that field), knowing that the US, like all previous empires that have reached and exceeded their limits of growth will fade and even implode. In their history, they’ve done it more than once, so they do know the pattern. And, if we do fall into blatant autocracy, it won’t look as though their is much to choose between them and us except on the basis of which is managing its dealing with the changes in the world more successfully.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          It seems that the amount of money available to the 1% of the world has grown exponentially in recent decades. Perhaps it explains the explosion of corruption that we’ve seen in the UK, US, and Australia among conservative politicians and parties. My thinking is that we reached a kind of critical mass of dark money that allows the 1% to purchase political parties outright through the use of organizations like ALEC and the Federalist Society. I believe they’ve been giving scholarships to promising young legal minds and grooming them to be conservative activist judges for decades as well.

          China just doesn’t have the military might to actually make a move. They might could attack Taiwan under the belief that the West won’t defend it for fear of a nuclear exchange or a protracted devastating war. They might be right there. If that’s the case, though, the West has already lost to China. We just don’t know it yet.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • As the 1% have been hoovering up (I love that British-ism) everybody else’s wealth, they have to find something advantageous to do with it. Buying politicians and training friendly lawyers, judges, economists, and others are good investments.

            I tend to think China would rather wear Taiwan down until such time as the US looses interest and/or the ability to intervene. They want to get it done as cheaply as possible, and actual war is expensive.

            Liked by 1 person

            • And with as little damage to the goods as possible.

              That’s the thing about money. You never feel like you have enough and once you have more than you need it just sits there gathering dust. When you do spend it, you tell yourself that (a) you deserve it after all the hard work you did to get it; (b) you’re spending it to benefit other people; they should be grateful; and (c) it ain’t nobody’s business but yours what you do with your own money.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • And the instinct of the 1%ers (or, in the case of those who’ve inherited it, their financial advisors) is that it needs to be working somehow to their advantage, and increased power and influence (especially out of sight of the general public) are irresistibly attractive.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  I think that piece about being out of sight of the general public is exactly right. Out of sight, out of mind. The activities of PACs, their sources of funds, and their interactions are all out of the public sphere. All of it is shrouded in secrecy, which is enforced by court decree. Without being able to see the cause and effect connection, the impact of the corruption is retarded.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

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