Tennessee’s top vaccine official says she has been fired as punishment for doing her job in the face of political pushback.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus was caught up in a controversy after she passed along legal guidance to health providers saying teenagers do not need parents’ consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot — a position established by decades of state law.
“Specifically, it was MY job to provide evidence-based education and vaccine access so that Tennesseans could protect themselves against COVID-19,” Fiscus said in a scathing statement about her firing. “I have now been terminated for doing exactly that.”
Tennessee’s leaders have betrayed the public trust, Fiscus says, accusing them of putting their own political gains ahead of the people’s well-being. She defended her colleagues in the health sector who have been fighting the pandemic — and she notably took umbrage that a lawmaker had called the state health department’s actions “reprehensible.”
Fiscus said that “the ‘leaders’ of this state who have put their heads in the sand and denied the existence of COVID-19 or who thought they knew better than the scientists who have spent their lives working to prevent disease… they are what is ‘reprehensible.’ I am ashamed of them. I am afraid for my state.”
Because of the pushback from lawmakers, Fiscus says, Tennessee is halting all of its vaccination outreach efforts for teens and children – not only for COVID-19 but also for measles and other illnesses.
The Tennessee Department of Health declined to comment on Fiscus’ employment status, stating, “We cannot comment on HR or personnel matters.” A message to Gov. Bill Lee’s office was not returned before this story published.
A memo sent in the spring started the series of events that ended with Fiscus’ ouster
The events leading to her being fired “can only be described as bizarre,” Fiscus said.
It all started in the spring, when Fiscus says several health care providers asked her office for clarity about how to handle the then-looming authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for minors as young as 12. As she prepared a memo on the subject, she turned to the Tennessee Department of Health’s general counsel, which replied with a doctrine based on a 1987 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling.
The doctrine, which says teens from ages 14-17 don’t need to get their parents’ or guardians’ consent before getting the vaccine, was posted online “and is blessed by the Governor’s office on the subject,” the legal office said, according to Fiscus. The office reportedly added, “This is forward facing so feel free to distribute to anyone.”
But when Fiscus sent a memo sharing that guidance, critics seized on the message and called it a governmental overreach, threatening to disband the state Department of Health, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. At a hearing in Tennessee’s legislature, a Republican legislator said the health department’s ad campaign encouraging teens to get vaccinated amounted to an attempt “to target children.”
State Rep. Iris Rudder told health officials, “I would encourage you, before our next meeting, to get things like this off your website.” Rudder was referring to a photo of a smiling teen with a bandage on her arm.
In addition to Fiscus, much of the conservatives’ anger was directed at Tennessee’s health commissioner, Dr. Lisa Piercey, who insisted her agency’s critics were viewing it through a distorted lens.
“I think there is a sense that we are hiding in dark alleys and whispering to kids, hey, come get vaccinated. We’re not doing that,” Piercey said at the hearing.
The policy was only likely to be invoked for a tiny number of cases, Piercey said, including ones in which parents were unable to care for their children.
The future of the state’s fight against COVID is at stake
In response to Fiscus’ ouster, Democrats in the state Senate issued a statement saying it will “will put more lives at risk,” citing the recent rise in new cases.
“A well-respected member of the public health community was sacrificed in favor of anti-vaccine ideology,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Fiscus is a pediatrician who left an established private practice in part because of her fatigue in coping with patients’ families who were skeptical of vaccines.
“I would always ask myself how these parents could think that I would recommend to purposely inject something into their kids that was bad for them,” she said in January of 2020. “Sometimes, we have had this relationship for 11 or even 16 years and they’re actually questioning my intentions now?”
Fiscus was named medical director of Tennessee’s immunization program in early 2019. Later that same year, she was elected to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ board of directors as a district chair, representing five states.
A statement from the academy in support of Fiscus says she was fired in “the most recent example of a concerning trend of politicizing public health expertise.”
“I was told that I should have been more ‘politically aware’ and that I ‘poked the bear’ when I sent a memo to medical providers clarifying a 34-year-old Tennessee Supreme Court ruling,” Fiscus said in her statement.
“I am not a political operative, I am a physician who was, until today, charged with protecting the people of Tennessee, including its children, against preventable diseases like COVID-19.”
Week In Politics: Republicans Urge Vaccine Hesitant Citizens To Get The Shot – NPR
‘It’s 2021, it’s not 1950:’ Women politicians in N.S. show support for Robyn Ingraham – Global News
Pamela Lovelace is no stranger to the sexism encountered by women in politics.
She ran for Liberal nomination back in 2013, and is now a Halifax regional councillor for District 13 and says she’s encountered all sorts of comments — because she is a woman — while trying to get elected.
“I remember someone saying ‘why are you here? Why are you doing this, you have a family?’” said Lovelace. “I said, ‘well my opponent has a family too’ and the response was ‘yeah, he has a wife though.’”
While Lovelace says politics is still very much an old boys’ club and that it’s hard for women to get into office, she says parties should support diversity among their candidates.
She says it was discouraging to find out a Liberal candidate in this provincial election was kicked out of the party for posting and selling boudoir photos online.
“I was really disappointed to hear that the political landscape is talking about what a person has done with their body rather than the actual ideas that Nova Scotians care about,” Lovelace said.
Earlier this week Robyn Ingraham withdrew as the Liberal candidate for Dartmouth South. She originally posted online that it was due to mental health reasons, but then she later posted to her Instagram account that the party had taken issue with her boudoir photos and Only Fans account despite her having disclosed that during the nomination process.
A barber and small business owner, Ingraham also published an email she said she had sent to Rankin, which stated the party had made a mistake by forcing her out. “The misogynistic behaviour of those above you is not tolerable,” she wrote to the premier. “It’s not my job to make old white men comfortable.”
Former Liberal candidate says party ousted her over ‘boudoir photos’
On Friday, Rankin’s news conference in rural Cape Breton about tourism funding quickly turned into a barrage of questions from reporters about how the ousting of Ingraham occurred, what was said and who was responsible. He confirmed his team “assisted” Ingraham with her resignation statement and said he has been repeatedly trying to contact her to learn her version of events.
But in a brief interview with The Canadian Press at her barbershop in Dartmouth, N.S., Ingraham said she doesn’t plan to speak with Rankin.
“I haven’t spoken to him and I have no intention of speaking to him,” she said. “I just wanted my story to get out there.”
She also said she doesn’t want to run for any other party. “I just want to get back to running my business,” she said at her shop, called Devoted Barbers and Co.
Lovelace said what was done to Ingraham was an injustice.
“Let’s get her back on the ballot,” said Lovelace. “It’s 2021, it’s not 1950, so let’s move on to better politics in Nova Scotia.”
Claudia Chender is running as the NDP candidate for the same riding Ingraham has dropped out of and says this whole situation shows the double standard for men and women in politics.
“I think we are past the point where we should be embroiled in this type of situation as a scandal, but unfortunately we still have a lot of misogyny, frankly, in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia politics.”
Chender says whether or not someone takes or sells revealing photos of themselves does not have an impact on how they can help the community.
Nova Scotia housing prices an election issue
“Political candidates should be judged on how are you going to make things better, how are you going to fix things?” said Chender.
“I think anything else that’s happening in their own personal lives that isn’t causing people harm is nobody’s business.”
Ingraham’s removal from the ballot has caught the attention of women across the country and many are showing her their support.
In a Twitter post, Mackenzie Kerr, a Green Party candidate in British Columbia posted her own boudoir image with the caption “It’s time we change the definition of professionalism.”
Back in Nova Scotia, a former PC candidate for Dartmouth South says she can’t believe women are still being judged for taking control of their own bodies.
“It’s horrible because Robyn is experiencing what I went through,” said Jad Crnogorac.
Crnogorac is a fitness instructor and says she herself has had professional boudoir photos done and hasn’t been shy of posting those photos or bikini photos of herself online.
She says when she was nominated as a PC candidate the party knew all of this but says just before the writ dropped she was approached and asked to remove some of her photos.
“I was really really angry,” said Crnogorac. “This is why strong women don’t go into politics because someone always finds a way to drag you through it and it’s just not appealing.”
Crnogorac was ultimately kicked out of the PC party as a candidate after tweets deemed racist surfaced but she maintains there’s a double standard for women in politics versus men.
“The leader of a party can do something illegal and have two DUIs and still be the leader of the party,” she said, referring to Iain Rankin’s recent admission to past impaired driving charges.
“Why do we have to have this picture-perfect female versus the men who can do whatever they want and still be a politician?” she asks.
–With files from The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Politics: The Minders and Mandarins of Capitalism – The Wall Street Journal
James R. Otteson’s “Seven Deadly Economic Sins” (Cambridge, 305 pages, $27.95) is a fine effort to introduce readers to the basic principles of market economics. The hamartiological framing—the “sins” are bad assumptions about how markets work—is part of the author’s effort to make the subject more engaging than a typical treatise on economics. It works. Mr. Otteson, a professor of business ethics at Notre Dame, writes with an apt combination of casual wit and rigorous logic.
I only regret that the book had to be written at all. There was a time in this country’s history—if the reader will allow a bit of declinist gloom—when America’s political class understood by instinct that wealth in a market economy comes about by voluntary exchanges in which all parties benefit. We do not live in such a time. About half of this country’s high-level elected officials appear to believe that some Americans have money because they took it from other Americans (the rich got rich “on the backs of workers” is a common trope). And so it is left to scholars such as Mr. Otteson to spell out the difference between zero-sum and positive-sum economic relationships.
A transaction based on extraction or theft is zero-sum (1 – 1 = 0). A transaction based on a mutual exchange is positive-sum (1 + 1 = 2). Wealth in most societies before about 1800, he reminds us, was based on the former model; wealth in market economies is based on the latter. What we need is someone able to explain to our well-intentioned politicos that the wealth they want to reallocate came about from mutually beneficial positive-sum transactions and not from zero-sum extraction. The way to diminish poverty and aid the disadvantaged is therefore not to punish positive-sum exchanges by taxation, but to allow more of them.
Other chapters in the book treat the “Good Is Good Enough Fallacy,” or the idea that every beneficial end is worth pursuing by all available means; the “Progress Is Inevitable Fallacy,” or the idea that a certain level of prosperity is guaranteed no matter what we do; and the “Great Mind Fallacy,” or the idea “that there is some person or group that possesses the relevant knowledge to know how others should allocate their scarce time or treasure.”
This latter point isn’t new—you can read the gist of it in Friedrich Hayek’s essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945) or Thomas Sowell’s book “Knowledge and Decisions” (1980)—but Mr. Otteson helpfully elucidates it in terms of individual experience. The experts may know that high-sugar carbonated drinks are on balance bad for your health, but they cannot know if you, in your circumstances, should or shouldn’t have a Coke. Most people would agree with that observation, but it is remarkable how many government policies are premised on its antithesis. City bans on unhealthy habits, state subsidies for favored industries, tax breaks meant to encourage virtuous behavior—these and a thousand other state-backed strategems assume the authorities and their experts understand immeasurably complex circumstances that they can’t possibly understand. But the alternative—allowing the people who do understand them to make their own decisions, even if they’re wrong—isn’t so satisfying to our governmental minders.
“The Power of Creative Destruction” (Belknap/Harvard, 389 pages, $35), translated by Jodie Cohen-Tanugi, is a full expression of the Great Mind outlook. Not that the authors—Philippe Aghion, Céline Antonin and Simon Bunel, all associated with the Collège de France—are socialists or militant redistributionists. They are mandarins. They recognize that you can’t pay for the modern welfare state or enjoy high levels of prosperity without robust economic growth. But capitalism, in their view, is constantly menacing itself and requires the aid of sage policy makers to prevent its collapse.
The authors are heavily influenced by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter. In “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” (1942), Schumpeter contended that capitalism was doomed by its own logic. The capitalist system depends on a constant succession of entrepreneurs dislodging established firms—a process he called “creative destruction.” But eventually, he saw, yesterday’s innovators become today’s monopolists and learn to use the levers of power to prevent further innovation. Growth diminishes; a dissatisfied public demands welfare-state protections and restrictions on entrepreneurial activity; and capitalism, deprived of growth, slowly transmutes into socialism.
Clearly some parts of that analysis are valid, although Schumpeter was mistaken, in my view, to think of capitalism as a “structure” that can’t adapt to the demands placed on it by an intermittently irrational public. Mr. Aghion, Ms. Antonin and Mr. Bunel share Schumpeter’s overdefined understanding of capitalism. “Capitalism must reward innovation,” they write, “but it must be regulated to prevent innovation rents”—rents meaning profits accruing to incumbent firms—“from stifling competition and thus jeopardizing future innovation.”
And what sort of regulations do they think will encourage innovation, foster competition and save capitalism from itself? You may have guessed already. Industrial policy: tariffs and other protections, subsidies to viable industries and firms, “investments” in R&D and higher education, and so on. What capitalism needs, if I may put their argument in my own words, is more public officials ready to heed the advice of centrist academic economists.
The book is rife with charts and graphs, and the authors cite a bewildering array of highly specialized studies. Much of this technical argumentation strikes me as overdone. I appreciate, for instance, the conclusion that lobbying and barriers to entry are likelier than innovation and competition to aggravate inequality. But people who think markets worsen inequality are committed to an unfalsifiable ideology and won’t be moved by any combination of graph-packed quantitative studies.
Love and death in a utopian community, the remorseless business of slavery, a passion for peacocks, updating Sir Gawain and more.
“The Power of Creative Destruction” is an impressive book in its way, but the authors don’t acknowledge the—to me—obvious objection. Once you afford governmental bodies the power to manage the economy, you also give established firms the tools with which to insulate themselves from competition. Wouldn’t it be easier and more effective to deprive incumbent firms of any special privileges and let them figure out how to survive? Then again, if we did that, we wouldn’t need so many mandarins.
What Canada did on Saturday at the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympic games – CTV News
August PlayStation Plus Games Leaked By Sony – TechRaptor
‘Shadow pandemic’ of femicide looms, experts warn as Canada prepares to reopen – Global News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Health23 hours ago
Today's coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 192 cases of COVID-19, one death; Mostly spectator-free opening ceremony kicks off Tokyo Games – Orangeville Banner
Sports11 hours ago
2021 NHL Draft day one recap: Trades! Trades! Trades! and more Trades! – Pension Plan Puppets
Sports22 hours ago
Sabres select Owen Power with No. 1 pick in 2021 NHL Draft – Sportsnet.ca
Health16 hours ago
Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up nearly 4 in 10 cases in B.C., data shows – Global News
Sports12 hours ago
Canadian flag-bearer's parents delightfully cheer on daughter from across the world – Yahoo Canada Sports
News15 hours ago
India flights to Canada: When will they be allowed? – Canada Immigration News
Health13 hours ago
A look at COVID-19 reopening plans across the country – OrilliaMatters
Sports17 hours ago
Canadian medal hopefuls Humana-Paredes, Pavan start beach volleyball with easy win – CBC.ca