Columnists, Coronavirus, Jon Caldara, Politics

Caldara: Politicized public health bleeds credibility

The virtue signaling via your tax dollars escalates.

The state of Colorado plans to declare racism a public health crisis.

According to Channel 7 News, the head of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Jill Hunsaker Ryan, will make the declaration.

They report, “In doing so, Hunsaker Ryan said she has two goals: to increase diversity in the department’s workforce, which is almost 78% white, and make it easier for local community organizations that provide services to people of color to partner with the agency. She also plans to hire an equity and inclusion officer for the department, potentially by the end of August.”

So, increase diversity in a department which is almost 78% white? According to the US Census Bureau, Colorado is 86.9% “white alone,” defined as people who self-report as white and no other race.

Make it easier for community organizations that provide services to people of color to partner with them? Silly me for thinking the department should make it easier for all organizations to partner with them no matter the skin tone of those they provide service.

Hire an equity and inclusion officer? Good to know that while Colorado’s private sector unemployment rate is exploding during a pandemic, and the state government is crying budget poverty over it, our state’s health department will provide its indecent job security to a new inclusion officer rather than a nurse or a doctor or even someone to process COVID screenings.

The state is signaling what’s really important — politicizing and bending core governmental functions to fit currently fashionable social causes. That might suit you just fine, so long as you agree with the outrage du jour.

Would those thinking it appropriate to declare racism a health crisis today feel the same tomorrow should Trumpies get into office in Colorado and declare illegal immigration a health crisis? The case could be made there, too.

Promoting political agendas by labeling them a “health crisis” is nothing new. In 2016 the American Medical Association adopted a policy calling gun violence (not violence oddly, but gun violence) in the United States “a public health crisis” even though gun violence was near an all-time low.

If racism should be declared a health crisis, what about domestic violence? The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports an average of 20 people experience intimate partner physical violence every minute in the U.S., more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

According to the New York Times the number of domestic abuse murders rose to 2,237 in 2017, a 19 percent increase from the 1,875 killed in 2014. Unlike racial equality, this issue is getting worse.

Ms. Hunsaker Ryan, will you declare domestic abuse a health crisis? If not, why not? Could it be that those affected by domestic abuse aren’t vandalizing and spraying your Capitol offices like other victim groups are today?

Is suicide a health crisis? The American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, using CDC numbers, reports suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2018, with 1.4 million suicide attempts and 48,344 lives lost.

To contrast that body count the FBI’s Unified Crime Report shows “only” 16,214 lives were lost to murder and manslaughter in 2018. Of those 16,214 souls the FBI reports 13, just 0.08 %, were deemed hate crimes, racism.

Ms. Hunsaker Ryan, will you declare suicide a health crisis? If not, why not?

The CDC reports that in 2017 40,231 Americans lost their lives in automobile accidents. That’s nearly 10 times more dead on our roads each and every year than Americans killed in 15 years of the Iraq war. They further report that for every automobile death there are nine people hospitalized and 88 people treated in emergency rooms, straining our packed health-care system.

Ms. Hunsaker Ryan, how is this not a health crisis? Don’t those staggering numbers absolutely demand you declare it so?

The CDC reports 64,795 deaths in 2017 by unintentional poisoning. Not a health crisis? They also report 36,338 by unintentional falls. But not a crisis?

Simple plea. Will the Polis administration create a written policy laying out the criteria for what they will and will not declare as a health crisis?

But how do you write a coherent policy based on changing political agendas, not science?

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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