Anything - or nearly anything - that happens nowadays immediately gets discussed, challenged, protested, or vilified in the media and social media.
Unfortunately, sometimes, issues are heard - or not heard - in the public domain based not on the merits of the issues, but on who can yell louder and have the most political weight to push through a solution that benefits that party's side and nobody else's.
In the case with the recent epidemic of Hepatitis A in California - the issue of
- how dangerous infections such as Hepatitis A may spread in a large city;
- what role a public restroom, free, clean, accessible and available to the public, and to the homeless population, plays in public health, and
- what role such an insignificant thing as plastic bags would have in preventing the spread of a deadly epidemic -
became completely overlooked.
Because plastic bags - as environmentalists claimed, and, very possibly, claimed correctly - hurt sea turtles.
Is it important?
But, no less important is the spread of epidemics in the large city.
Many cities want to sweep under the rug the unsavory issue that in this blessed and prosperous country, there are still homeless people - they are often sick, often drug-addicted, often dirty and smelly.
We do not want to see them.
Towns and cities are devising ways to drive them away from places frequented by "good people".
There are ordinances being introduced throughout the country against selling food from mobile units without a license, and licenses are prohibitively expensive.
In reality, such prohibitions are not to protect population from bad food - but to protect restaurants from competition and to prevent those mobile food selling units from serving homeless populations.
Blocking access of homeless people to housing, destroying their tents, blocking their access to public restrooms, prohibiting everybody to use plastic bags, while knowing that the real reason is to ban the homeless from using plastic bags as the alternative to a restroom (in the absence of access to real restrooms) - are all tunes from the same song.
Can we, as people, actually try to take a bird's view of a problem before engaging in knee-jerk actions?
I am sure there are many doctors who could have predicted and advised authorities that measures undertaken against the homeless population can lead to epidemics.
But - sea turtles won.
I am happy for the sea turtles.
Only - can we BOTH save sea turtles, and save ourselves? From a Hep A epidemic, and, possibly, more to come if authorities do not provide real solutions to the problem of homelessness in America?
At the very least, provide to homeless populations access to food, clean restrooms and showers, the cheapest and simplest possible housing that would help withstand the weather?
Even if we assess it in terms of money it will cost, ladies and gentlemen, it will be easier to do that than to take care of a spread of Hep A and other contagious diseases.