December 5th, 2004

NIF Solstice Celebration Report

We play a grab-bag gift game at the New Intellectual Forum Holiday get-together. It involves guessing the identity of the gift-givers. The givers, for their part, are supposed to buy gifts that reflect some non-obvious aspect of their personality or history.

I amused myself, as usual, by making a lot of smart-aleck comments during the gift-guessing game.

Rhyme of the Day:

I wittily riffed
On each mystery gift.

Flu Shot Surplus

It may shock some, but Illinois now has a flu shot surplus.

How did this happen?  There was supposed to be a shortage.  It even became a factor in the presidential campaign.  If Kerry had been victorious, pundits would have been saying the flu-shot shortage made the crucial difference.  Headlines would have read "Bush Presidency Succumbs To Flu."

Our ambitious governor was so worried that he tried to get a supply of foreign flu shots.  So far, they haven't come through.

The FDA
Blocks the way.

But even without foreign flu shots, Illinois somehow has plenty on hand at the moment.  Could it be that the shortage was a bit exaggerated in the first place?  Maybe.  Newspapers like scary stories.  A lot of readers like scary stories.  And politicians often get mileage from scary stories.

What I noticed in the Chicago area was that the easy ways to get a flu shot dried up.  The local drug store chains, usually a reliable source of vaccine, were not offering shots.  In other words, the free market supply dried up, so that the public sector could ration the stuff.  And the public sector did its usual bang-up job.

We had a scarcity scare:
Flu shots were terribly rare!
Now - guess what?
We've got a glut -
Flu shots everywhere!