Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear President Obama, The beer summit was nice, but how about an autism summit?

Look, I appreciate that President Obama had the July Beer Summit at the White House. A white cop (who may or may not have been a model of cultural diversity and understanding) from Cambridge got to drink a Blue Moon, a distinguished African American Harvard Professor got to drink a Sam Adams Light, someone let Joe Biden in, and President Obama modeled for the whole country how to have an adult conversation about race.

But what President Obama really needs to do is to have a White House summit on autism. Autism is an absolute public health catastrophe right now and it appears to be growing. 1 in 91 children now has autism -- up from just 1 in 10,000 in 1970, and autism is estimated to cost the nation $90 billion per year. President Obama needs to bang some heads together (EPA, CDC, NIH, DOD) and ask the really hard questions and demand answers -- What is causing it? What are ALL the steps we can take immediately to respond? If that means closing every coal-fired power plant in the country tomorrow -- great, let's do it. If it means radically revising our vaccine protocols and instituting a global ban on mercury? Fine, done and done.

President Obama needs to marshal the full force of the federal government to respond to this crisis as if it were Hurricane Katrina itself -- because really at the end of the day it's actually a much much bigger disaster than Katrina (over 1 million Americans have been diagnosed with autism). Said differently, President Obama has shown that he can keep his cool and that he's incredibly skilled at measured, deliberative responses to long-term problems. We love that about him and it is a great skill for foreign policy and diplomacy (and even economic strategy too). But it would also be nice to see President Obama respond to an urgent crisis in an urgent manner and to show, perhaps for the first time, that he understands that the size of the federal response needs to match the size of the problem because thus far, the federal government's response to autism has been slow and insufficient.

To learn more, check out these helpful links from Talk About Curing Autism.

Update #1: "U.S. autism cases show 59% increase" Dec. 18, 2009, from the Palm Beach Post, Health Section. Fascinating note by James Lind in the comments portion after the article:

We have seen a 1500% increase in autism since 1990, the year the CDC ramped up its Hepatitis B antigen vaccination campaign, injecting 1 day old infants with this wicked concoction which (if it did work) only fights a disease caused by multiple sex partners, intravenous drug users and those receiving blood transfusions.

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