THE DEFEAT OF measles in the United States was one of the great good news stories of the turn of the millennium. Prior to 1963, when a vaccine was developed, the highly contagious virus led each year to 48,000 hospitalizations and 400-500 deaths, mostly among small children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But immunization campaigns steadily eroded the disease's reach, and by 2000 it was declared eliminated from American shores.
Today, the U.S. is grappling with the worst measles outbreak in a quarter-century. Some 981 cases were confirmed in 26 states between January 1 and May 31--a 26-fold increase from the total in 2004. The CDC anticipates one or two fatalities per 1,000 cases, so it looks like only a matter of time before the disease again starts claiming American lives.
The most tragic thing about the measles resurgence is how wholly unnecessary it is. Whether out of fear, out of ignorance, out of confusion, or out of religious conviction, parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids have allowed immunization rates to drop below the 95 percent threshold required to keep the virus at bay. In October, officials reported that the number of children who haven't received vaccines for preventable diseases had quadrupled since 2001.
At the very moment we succeeded in banishing a deadly affliction from our country, in other words, people began eschewing the measures that made this medical miracle possible.
SOCIALISM, TOO, IS having an American renaissance. As with measles, if it's allowed to spread, the result will be needless human suffering.
A generation after the fall of the Soviet Union, young Americans have forgotten, if they ever learned, what happens when a citizenry allows itself be enraptured by the promise of communal ownership of a national economy (page 55). Such regimes have failed whenever and wherever they've been tried, engendering misery, starvation, persecution, and wasted human potential on a massive scale. At this very moment, hyperinflation and desperate shortages of food, medicine, and power are ravaging Venezuela (page 75), a previously rich country that had every intention of forging a better, smarter socialist future for the 21st century.
The new wave of young American socialists are quick to insist they have a different, gentler vision--as the Democratic Socialists of America's website puts it, one in which "working people" run things "democratically to meet human needs, not to make...