Monday, September 19, 2005

Small Thought on Epidemiology

This is an interesting article: I particularly direct you to this paragraph: "Two US Air Force C-130 planes meanwhile started low altitude spraying of the city with insecticides in a bid to combat the spread of mosquito-borne disease."

Now, one can make a reasonable argument, though with a number of ethical problems, that it is acceptable to sacrifice some for the good of all. It may even be so when those who are being affected are not consulted and do not agree. But there is always a race, a class, a gender story lurking behind the situation.

Israelis have installed some basic sewage and other systems in Palestinian territory, but this has been openly admitted to be because otherwise diseases will spread into Israel. Those insecticides are only guaranteed to do one thing: harm the people still left in the city. It is the poor and black who disproportionately "serve their country" in the military, and whose 60 and 80 hour a week sacrifices of time and effort keep the economy afloat.

In other words, when a white commentator says that military service is the most noble profession, it's remarkably easy for her to do so, because it's highly likely that she won't in fact be asked to make that sacrifice. When insecticides are dumped or high-intensity agriculture harms workers, it is not the white, male or rich whose lives will be disrupted.


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