GOOD

Australia Proposes Limiting Welfare Payments For Anti-Vaxxer Parents

Refusing to vaccinate your children in Australia may soon come with a price tag.

Image via (cc) Flickr user sanofi-pasteur

Refuse to vaccinate your kids in Australia, and you could be risking more than simply infectious diseases and social shunning. New legislation introduced this week would result in parents who don’t vaccinate their children potentially losing out on thousands of dollars worth of welfare. It’s a dramatic move as the country seeks to clamp down on an anti-vaxxer movement which has left nearly 40,000 children under the age of seven without proper immunization.


As the law currently stands, parents receiving Australia’s Family Tax Benefit part A, as well as childcare benefits and rebates, have been allowed three types of exemptions from vaccination: medical risk, religious belief, and “conscientious objection.” The new legislation, set to go into effect next year, would eliminate that last criteria as a valid excuse to avoid inoculation. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot framed the the new policy in terms of the greater public welfare, explaining: “The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research, nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of childcare payments,” reports IFLScience.

The so-called “No Jab, No Pay” plan is supported by the Australian Medical Association, who back the measure as a means to fight against the resurgence of serious diseases like Measles and Whooping Cough.

“No Jab, No Pay” isn’t without its critics. There are those, of course, who might oppose the policy out of hand, simply for promoting vaccinations, while others might see it as coercive or punitive in a way that establishes a dangerous precedent for conditional welfare down the road. Even some proponents of inoculation argue the policy will make little difference in the ongoing fight to contain communicable diseases. Explains Saman Shad in an SBS opinion piece:

Many of these hardcore objectors [to vaccination] live in affluent areas. Some of the lowest rates of immunisation [sic] are in Sydney’s northern and eastern suburbs. While in the affluent inner-city suburbs of Melbourne vaccination rates are falling below safe herd immunity levels. For parents living in these suburbs, cuts to benefits are less of a motivator as money perhaps isn’t much of an object.

It’s a charge that seems plausible, at least geographically. A 2013 Sydney Morning Herald feature pegged Sydney’s affluent suburbs as being “at risk” for infectious outbreak due to low vaccination rates, according to Australia’s National Health Performance Authority.

Still, the measure enjoys support from across the country’s political spectrum. As Bill Shorten, head of Australia’s Labor party, told The Guardian:

"Labor understands that there are a small number of people who have deeply-held religious convictions, but other than that, Labor sees no case at all for parents not to be encouraged to immunise [sic] their children."

In California, a similar proposal to restrict the inoculation exemptions (in this case:Students opting out of mandatory school vaccinations for reasons other than “medical”) is facing intense opposition from groups opposed to vaccinations, as well those fearing governmental overreach.
The dangers of not being inoculated, however, are incontrovertible. Watch as this data visualization demonstrates the spread of preventable disease as global vaccination rates have dropped:

Articles

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via ICE / Flickr

The Connors family, two coupes from the United Kingdom, one with a three-month old baby and the other with twin two-year-olds, were on vacation in Canada when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned their holiday into a 12-plus day-long nightmare.

On October 3, the family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia when an animal veered into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour.

The family accidentally crossed into the United States where they were detained by ICE officials in what would become "the scariest experience of our lives," according to a complaint filed with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Keep Reading Show less
Travel