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Larry Page "providing free flu shots to all San Francisco bay area kids" (plus.google.com)
265 points by ck2 on Dec 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 231 comments



I'm kind of amazed that a story like this can _still_ elicit negative responses here. Maybe the gov't should provide this, maybe not. Either way: it doesn't right now, but Larry Page just did. I think that is pretty cool. Bravo.


It's pretty crazy. This is a mildly interesting story about an act of charity by a person who got wealthy in tech, that's it.


I applaud the practical impact of this act, however I do not view it as charity. Acts of charity are anonymous. Charitable donations made in a highly public manner are publicity.


You bring up a good point about charity and anonymity. In general the act of making a wide public announcement about one's charitable acts is strong evidence that it's being done for publicity or is primarily self serving in some way.

In this specific case however, he is financing a public health initiative in a geographical area where many residents read his blog, therefore getting the word out that the shots are available through one's blog is not an unreasonable way to make sure the effort is effective and makes a difference. Many who read his blog will reblog and word gets out. Let's compare this to a nun who arranges for free flu shots at Target instead. If no one knows about it, then it doesn't do any good. Those who can't afford the shots are not going to go in and ask on the off chance a donor has provided them. One wants to get the word out. Is she being self-serving by announcing to people that the shots are available? It seems unfair to make that assumption.


He could have set the entire thing up and then said, "I found out there are free flu shots at Target."


And then he gets accused of astro-turfing. Basically, because of some ridiculous idea of anonymity in charity, you suggest he should deliberately mislead.

George Orwell would have been most proud.


Or he could make the statement more noteworthy by lending his celebrity to the cause like he did. The point is getting more kids flu shots. Is it so bad to spread word on this "obviously self-serving promotion"?


The man's point is simply that in his view charity is supposed to be an act of selflessness, and selflessness is supported by namelessness. He is allowed to have this view of what constitutes charity; many people do.

I disagree that "I paid for free flu shots at Target" is going to spread faster than "There are free flu shots at Target". Obviously I can't prove it, but even if you were right, I think the reduced amount of publicity might teach the man about the nature of humility and working quietly and diligently behind the scenes to effect change.


What's the big deal about an act of charity being 'selfless'? Doing good things in the world should make people feel proud of themselves. Sure, it's not as 'pure' if the actions are motivated by pride and ego, but what does it matter? Good things are being done regardless. We should be applauding the generosity and positive impact of the deed, not nitpicking over its altruistic imperfection.


You reasonably ask, "What's the big deal about an act of charity being 'selfless'?"

It comes from certain specific ancient theologies which adopt philosophical positions of endorsing anonymous giving.

In christian theology, for example, there is the principle "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Back in those days some almsgivers would carry a bell and ring it as they gave out money to the poor, calling attention to themselves. It's possibly the bell ringing practice originated in wanting to let the poor know that alms were available, but christian texts clearly indicate that it had become a way of calling attention to oneself for their charity works. To this end, some persons donated in order to receive admiration from others, not out of compassion for the less fortunate. It was thus mentioned "they have already received their reward". This was contrasted to anonymous giving and a future reward in heaven as an alternative. But note still the person is doing it in expectation of receiving a reward, and not out of a sense of compassion.

Unfortunately, in the modern times, these principles are not normally brought up by others that share one's religion, but rather as a debate tactic to make others look bad and put down those who are trying to make a difference, regardless of any faith issues.

This principle is often brought up, as we see here, in order to pass judgment against those who give charity. Those who pass this judgment sit in self-righteous judgment of others rather than "minding their own business" as these judeo-christian writings also implore. Thus those making such pronouncements are picking and choosing that which makes them happy. The judgers judge because it makes them feel good about themselves, not because they are members of the same church as Larry Page (who is actually atheist, according to various sources) or others who are merely concerned with them having the right motivation in alignment with their communal belief system. The judgers have received their reward - a smug feeling of superiority over others who work to help the less fortunate.


Yeah, but you're also not Larry Page (I assume) nor do you probably have 4.6 million followers on your G+ page.

Lots of companies and other organizations give out free or discounted flu shots every year, but they don't get the publicity this does. Raising awareness is a big part of maximizing the value of this effort, since the shots don't just benefit the individual getting them but their community as well (since it reduces transmission overall.)


Publicizing charity work does not necessarily mean that it's a selfish act. I think Larry Page's G+ post shows this fairly clearly. To say otherwise is a non sequitur.


Ironic that "georgeorwell" promotes manipulating the public through secret actions instead of transparently telling people about ones doings.

Teaching Larry Page humility is less important than getting the job done. The man has more money than god and he still goes to work every day, even after issues that forced him to stop doing his public CEO work for a while. How much humility does he need?


He didn't even use the word "I" in the announcement. It was a sentence fragment. He said "Personally providing", an neogrammatical construct whose only purpose is to downplay the subject of the sentence.


Charity definition in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charity_%28practice%29

Nowhere does the word anonymous appear. Words are not defined by your view of them, but by common usage (in English). And charity and publicity are not mutually exclusive.


What a terrible world it would be if society rewarded giving so much that wealthy people and corporations climbed over each other to give as much as possible, just for the publicity. There'd be no more charity!


No, charity is not defined by whether the donor is anonymous or not.


"Acts of charity are anonymous."

That's not how other people use the word. You should pick a different word if you're going to have your own private definition.


How about karamat?

"Charity does not mean that you give and you feel very good that you have given, that you give and you oblige the person to whom you have given. Then it is not karamat; then it is not charity.

Charity is when you give and you feel obliged that the other has taken it; when you give with no idea that you are obliging anybody in any way; when you give because you have too much. It is not that the other needs.[1]"

[1] http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2006-08-05/edit-...


I don't know what a karamat is or why that would be more useful for this purpose than a dictionary.


I have a deep, abiding, and life long love for dictionaries, though I have found their use as a tool to find meaning more valuable than their use as a cudgel to silence comment.


You appear to be attempting a philosophical debate on the nature of giving, but have worded it as a definitional construct that's contradicted by common dictionaries and usage. That's all I'm after. If you want to argue that giving is best when anonymous, go wild, just don't frame it such that it looks like you're trying to use your own private definition of common words.


I truly apologize for responding to what I perceived to be your tone rather than to the substance of what you were saying. You are correct, and I should have given the initial comment more extensive and explicit context.


Civility on the internet! I appreciate it. I do think your greater point about the nature of giving is worth exploring... just perhaps with better words.


Disagreeing with you and trying to silence you are two very different things.


1. Some authorities recommend anonymity (I think Maimonides spoke well of it) or at least discretion, as in the various New Testament injunctions. However, some acts of charity cannot be accomplished anonymously (cf. the parable of the Good Samaritan). 2. Larry Ellison needs more publicity about as much as Kevin Durant needs elevator shoes. If he wishes to spend the money on providing flu shots rather than on yacht or spouse upgrades, I'm not going to blame him.


Um, this is Larry Page not Ellison. Very different men in many ways.


My bad.


How is 1 relevant? Christianity didn't invent charity.


No, and Maimonides was not Christian. However, a large portion of the body of at least European and American thought on charity comes out of the Christian tradition.


To all those downvoting vectorbunny's comment:

The downvote is not meant to say "I disagree", it is meant to be used to get rid of spam, trolls or comments not adding to the discussion. If you disagree, respond to the comment with your reasons for disagreeing, like all the quality responses to vectorbunny's comment.

Heck, you might even upvote comments you disagree with if you think they add value to the discussion.


I'd really like to agree with you but unfortunately, pg has previously stated that down voting was OK to express disagreement. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=117171


I see that you disagreed with my comment. If you had silently downvoted me (as is "ok" to do), the discussion goes nowhere. Instead you did the noble thing and responded to my comment with an counterpoint.

So, I ask you, which makes for a better HN? One where people downvote to disagree, or where people respond explaining why they disagree?

In my mind it is the latter behavior that makes HN a good place to be.

So regardless of what pg has stated I will continue to believe that it is far better (for HN) to respond to comments I disagree with than to downvote them, for down-voting (aka punishing) someone for saying something I don't agree with doesn't help me, it doesn't help the commenter, it doesn't help HN. So what's the point?


I largely agree. If you're making a donation and you aren't anonymous to everyone but the people who have some control over the money being donated, your ego is involved somewhere. I wouldn't say that non-anonymous donations aren't charity, but rather that they are charity with strings attached. And this does look like a publicity stunt, despite whatever the man's intentions may be.

Also, vectorbunny has a deep philosophical and spiritual point here, as he later elaborates on, and I don't believe he deserves the downvotes simply for stating his view of true charity. Yes, in the United States, the word charity doesn't imply anonymous donations, but charity is an ancient concept going back to the dawn of civilization.


Kids get some flu shots, Larry Page gets some press. Who isn't a winner in this situation?


Truthfully, most charitable organizations or causes would like celebrities to no donate anonymously because celebrity giving often stimulates other people to give.


I very often get that feeling especially about corporate charity but I am somewhat torn as public examples can lead others to follow.


Please describe the mechanism by which Page could get a million people into [anonymous location, don't let Target advertise either] for flu shots without disclosing anyone's name.


It would be entirely the other way round if Larry Page announced a startup dedicated to giving children flu-jabs.


Note to self: If I ever become rich and decide to donate something to a bunch of kids... don't let HN find out...


I feel like the Slashdot and /r/technology crowd have infected this place. So much negativity it's shocking.


Negativity's to be expected when any controversial issue's brought up, and this is certainly a controversial issue on a number of fronts. The people-spending-lots-of-money front, the how-should-we-make-people-less-sick front, the are-corporations-taking-over-our-lives front... all sorts of things that're bound to raise hackles.

The nature of all three sites you brought up, this one and Reddit and Slashdot, make the problem a bit worse by throwing voting and ranking into the mix. When people feel their opinion is being publicly valued, they become more defensive about their opinions and thoughts. The tyranny of the majority means that any thread will display the most popular opinion first, and therefore there's a valuation occurring in every conversation here that can be bothersome when you're in the minority.

That's not entirely the cause – sites with threaded discussions also have frequent arguments over controversy. But there are methods of encouraging positivity in online discussions, they're just not ones built into HN, and the system that is built-in favors more contentious back-and-forths.


I don't see why giving away free flu vaccines should be at all controversial. Does not compute. It may be related to controversial topics, but it is not in itself controversial.


> the how-should-we-make-people-less-sick front

This isn't controversial on that front unless you're a scammer or a moron.

Seriously. We need to stop pretending like the anti-vaxxers actually have an argument. We're not CNN. We can financially afford to state the facts of the matter without injecting false balance.


Heh, I wasn't even thinking of the anti-vaxxers! I meant more the "how should we pay for the things that make people less sick" front, which seems to the debate broiling up here.


That's ok, but your comment doesn't come across in that way, and it is also sort of irrelevant. One guy with a lot of money decided to give free flu shots to some kids, period. He is not solving the world's health problems and I can't honestly see how that is relevant to what he did.


What kind of "relevant" discussion were you expecting down here? What kind of "relevant" response to "one guy gave free flu shots" can be expected?

I would say that this is not an especially good post for Hacker News, in that it concerns neither programming nor the business of start-ups. Larry Page works for an interesting company, but this is not news of that company doing something interesting; it's a philanthropy report. Good Hacker News threads provoke discussion; there's not much to discuss w/r/t philanthropy unless you bring up the subjects which are now being criticized as too negative.

I would say that, but it's a tradition of Hacker News to be far less focused on its main subjects than it says it is, and posts like this arouse interesting discussion.


> people-spending-lots-of-money

Who cares what Larry does with his money.

>how-should-we-make-people-less-sick front

Uh, by giving them access to healthcare, like vaccines?

> are-corporations-taking-over-our-lives

what the hell does Larry's employer have to do with his personal donation of money for vaccines.

I'm sorry, I don't buy this attempt to legitimize the miserable attitudes of some in this thread.


> Who cares what Larry does with his money.

That's less the worry than, "It's not totally healthy to have a culture which idolizes people who have a lot of money and then give some of it away, because it reinforces the message that making money = good person, not making money = slob or freeloader." I have a grandfather who hates, hates, welfare recipients, with a passion. If I showed him this story, he would interpret it as "proof that rich people are better than poor people," guaranteed.

> Uh, by giving them access to healthcare, like vaccines?

Yes, but as has been mentioned elsewhere, the problem isn't "let's give them healthcare!" Almost everybody thinks that's a good idea. The bigger question is, how do we pay for that healthcare? A much thornier question, as this thread proves.

> what the hell does Larry's employer have to do with his personal donation of money for vaccines.

See the above "are we validating wealth as the only means of value" question, only add to that the perspective that our lives revolve unhealthily around our employers already, that we work arbitrarily hard because our economic system forces us to work just for basic, unrelated needs (it's like "making money = good" only worse, because this is more like "working a lot = not dying of sickness"), and that perhaps employers working even harder to take control of every aspect of our lives, like where we live (Google dorms) and what we eat and how we stay healthy, is yet another sign of dysfunction.

> I'm sorry, I don't buy this attempt to legitimize the miserable attitudes of some in this thread.

I don't fully agree with any of the three opinions I stated above, to be clear. But I think that each is a valid and interesting perspective, and each one is worth a discussion.

Honestly, why post a story to Hacker News if you don't want a discussion? And aren't discussions about interesting, controversial perspectives better than discussions that go "Man, I wish I was Larry Page," and "Look at this other rich person that gave money too!", and "Boy, this proves that not all rich people are evil people, rah rah 1%, boo boo Occupy Wall Street!" – I mean, aren't conversations that introduce new and interesting perspectives good in general?


I get what you're saying and I apologize if my comment seemed to attack you. That having been said, these ARE VERY important discussions, but I feel like the only one that serves as a criticism of Larry taking independent action is that it might support the "just let the super rich be charitable"... and I think a further discussion of that is a GOP tactic to distract from the bigger issue of making up the difference through a more guaranteed and reliable method (ie, public health care).


No worries; your comment didn't seem like an attack at all! It raised interesting points, and the only reason I'm joining in here is because I think it's an interesting conversation.

I think the criticism you brought up is the most interesting one as well. The other tangents have been lurking in my mind for unrelated reasons (I read a fun short fiction yesterday about Google using its dorms to breed families, which is the only reason I brought it up), but I'd have understood their inclusion in this discussion as well. And it makes sense that the various criticisms as a whole come across way more negatively than this news seems to deserve.


uhhh by "access" you actually mean "pay for and provide for free to others."

Everyone already has access to vaccines. Flu vaccines are aggressively marketed.


It is extremely common to use the word "access" to mean "have the economic means of acquiring" when talking about sociological issues or healthcare.

I have "access" to a new Porsche. That doesn't really mean anything useful at all.


New rule: don't hire anyone who's posted abject idiocy in a comment thread on HN :/


Oh, don't say that. Better for people to say stupid things and be debated over them and evolve their opinions than for people to politely say nothing at all and remain fools forever.

Hacker News was a wonderful place for college-age unalone to work out his thoughts and stances with people who like telling each other how wrong they are about everything. I've said some very dumb things under this account name, and I don't regret saying any of them.


OK, very fair point. Thank you.


This is one of the stated purposed of HN. To let YC applicants have an extended group interview.


I really can't understand the idiocy and hatred spewed by some people on this post. I really hope that is just a very vocal minority that comes out to the light on these kind of posts.


The previous submission of Larry Page's Google+ post

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4874293

led me to his post, where I commented, and where I was APPALLED to see how many people were making blatantly unscientific statements about vaccines, with one even saying, "Just google it" (without providing any links) to introduce flat-wrong statements. A follow-up comment of mine was,

"+Larry Page I'm wondering if your head hurts as much as mine does when people say 'Just Google it' to recommend websites full of incorrect information not based on science or rational thought. More work still needs to be done in developing the public's research skills so that most people can distinguish reliable sources from unreliable sources that happen to turn up in an online search. "

Ouch. I guess the co-founder of Google is seeing an example in the comments to his Google+ post of how ignorant people stay ignorant even when they use the world's best search engine. I wonder what the search quality team at Google can do about issues like this.


Sometimes it is as simple as confusing different kinds, such as H1N1 vs normal flu vaccines.


The nobility / motivation for this act aside, I can't believe this is still even a thing.

Honestly, I find it incredible that there's even debate about this. Nobody thinks twice about things like transportation infrastructure or monetary policy being publicly administered, but the second health care is involved, all sense seems to go out the window. How someone can think that health is less of an inalienable right than access to roads or free markets is beyond me.


Imagine if everyone were required to sign up for a food/water plan to make sure they and their children would be covered for all of their food related needs. Employers would be required to pay a percentage of food plans premiums for all full-time employees. And if you don't buy a food plan you will be fined $700 annually by the Federal government.

The benefit is that you could never be denied basic access to food/water for the rest of your life. Of course, the government would decide what sort of food each food plan offers and how much grocers can charge for food.

I mean, food is just as much an inalienable right as health, right? So all sense would go out the window if you don't agree with this?


Many countries, including the USA, do have such programs. The American version is food stamps, paid for out of general taxation and distributed to millions of people in low-income households. It's not as all-encompassing as your suggestion, but then neither is government involvement in healthcare.


Well, a modern wealthy nation should never let it's citizens starve / go without clean driking water. So yes, the government should provide a safety net for those who can't afford food / water.

The same should be done for healthcare. The problem with healthcare is that you can spend a near infinite amount on treatments. It is hard to spend an infinite amount on food.


Imagine if everyone were required to sign up for a food/water plan to make sure they and their children would be covered for all of their food related needs. Employers would be required to pay a percentage of food plans premiums for all full-time employees.

Ha. In Australia, 9% of our annual wage is contributed to superannuation. It makes a lot of sense. We also have a Medicare levy of 1.5%. It's not a bad thing.


Well, actually a big chunk of your taxes is going to farm subsidies, and you wouldn't be 70% corn if it wasn't.


The main difference in this case, you can get other people sick with your contagious illness.


I'm not against vaccinations, I agree. A vaccinated public is something everyone benefits from. I was responding to healthcare in general, sorry for the confusion.


You can grow your own food, whereas you can't grow your own health (although you can certainly choose to live healthier, and indeed the disincentive to do this is one of the weaknesses I see in a universal health care model).

Something like clean water is probably a closer analog to health care than food is, since clean water is something that can't be created purely by labor alone.


Shhh... we don't talk about progressivism's lack of logical consistency. You might spook the sheep.


> Nobody thinks twice about things like transportation infrastructure or monetary policy being publicly administered

You're right. I only think once about it, and I think it's a bad idea.


The government builds roads, but doesn't provide individuals with a car, or liability insurance.


Different. Flu vaccines prevent flu. Liability insurance doesn't prevent damages.


I think this makes a ton of business sense. 1) Children are near the top disease spreaders 2) Less sick children means less sick employees 3) Less sick children means less employees spending time with their sick kids 4) Everyone wins!


he's doing it personally. out of his own money. out of a desire to do his bit not to have flu spread around. why would you even be speculating on whether this makes "business sense"?


> why would you even be speculating on whether this makes "business sense"?

Why not?

Also, it might make it more likely to happen next year if it makes good business sense this year.


3) Less sick children means less employees spending time with their sick kids

4) Everyone wins!

Everyone except those kids who care less about having a flu sometimes than having a chance of their working parents spending time with them. =/


Larry Page is destroying families.


This may make good business sense as you point out, but do you think pros and cons for google's business were evaluated before Larry decided to pay for these vaccines? I think in absence of any evidence, we should give him the benefit of doubt and look at this as a genuine act of charity.


That is one of the most idiotic things I have ever read. I hope you are being sarcastic.


and add employees required to give their children flu shots.


Are you then shorting the shares of the companies whose CEOs do not buy vaccines?


While this is admirable, public health should be funded by the public through taxes and not the whims of the 1%.


The problem is entire generations of people voting against themselves are going to have to die off before that happens in this country.

Meanwhile at least hundreds of thousands of kids in SF bay area have a chance not to get the flu this year and spread it everywhere thanks to one man's generosity and thoughtfulness.


My parents used to think the same thing. But somehow, newer generations keep voting against their own interests.

The realization that many people are not actually smart enough to figure their own interests came to me about 10 years ago, and the world made a lot more sense since then.

(the late George Carlin reasoned thus: "Think how dumb the average person is; and now realize that half the population is even dumber than that". It's true, if you assume "dumbness" distribution is symmetric around the mean. Or, just replace "average" with median and it's true by definition.)


Saying "voting against their own interests" is really insulting.

Do we dismiss Bill Gates as being too dumb to care for his own interests when he says his tax rate should go up?

Sometimes people feel differently than you. Even if it would be in their personal selfish interest to agree with you. This doesn't make them stupid. If anything, like when Gates or Buffett talk about how they should be made personally worse off, it shows the courage of their own convictions.


> Saying "voting against their own interests" is really insulting.

I'm sorry to be blunt, but people who find such a statement insulting should get off the internet. That said:

> Do we dismiss Bill Gates as being too dumb to care for his own interests when he says his tax rate should go up?

No, he is caring for his OWN interests in saying that. As does Warren Buffett. Sure, his narrow next year interests are to pay less taxes. But his long term interest is that he will not have to hire a private army to protect his every move because of social unrest. Nor that he will have to finance his own private hospital for his kids, because disease control in communal (non-profit and for-profit) hospitals is breaking down. Nor that he will have to fly in everyone he wants to meet because the road infrastructure is breaking down.

What Bill Gates and Warren Buffett understand is that the US is falling behind, and they don't want that to happen. That IS in their interest.

> Sometimes people feel differently than you. Even if it would be in their personal selfish interest to agree with you.

Yes, and I respect their right to do that, even if there is no logical way, selfish or communal, short term or long term, in which it serves any measurable interest of theirs. But I also reserve the right to call them stupid for it (for being unable to demonstrate to a mythical "objective observer" that their votes support their interests, that is. I won't call them stupid if they can soundly reason about it, even if I disagree with their reasoning)

And I repeat again: Gates and Buffett are talking their interest.

Joe the Plumber is stupid (reminder: he complained that although he is making $40,000 year NOW, he's going to buy his employer's business in the future, and make $200,000/year, and at that point Obama's tax plan to increase tax over $250,000/year would hurt him. His statements were logically incoherent, statistically improbable. And yet, he was sure that he had a solid case against the Obama tax plan of 2008. And so did hundreds of thousnads (perhaps millions) of others. These people are beyond help or hope. (To be clear: there are reasonable considerations against Obama's plan. JtP could not, however, elaborate any that were against his interests)


>> Do we dismiss Bill Gates as being too dumb to care for his own interests when he says his tax rate should go up?

> No, he is caring for his OWN interests in saying that. As does Warren Buffett. Sure, his narrow next year interests are to pay less taxes. But his long term interest is that he will not have to hire a private army to protect his every move because of social unrest. Nor that he will have to finance his own private hospital for his kids, because disease control in communal (non-profit and for-profit) hospitals is breaking down. Nor that he will have to fly in everyone he wants to meet because the road infrastructure is breaking down.

> What Bill Gates and Warren Buffett understand is that the US is falling behind, and they don't want that to happen. That IS in their interest.

Why do these discussions always reduce to "X's own interest" = maximising their bank account?

Gates might (and most likely does) care about generally making the world a better place, and so it is in his interest to suggest measures that ease the burden on low-income people.

(Note that this explanation avoids proposing that he is explicitly staving off worldwide societal collapse so that he and his family can live in peace without paying for private this and private that. It might have this as a side effect, but I find it extremely unlikely that this monetary calculation is what he is thinking.)


So, people who vote 'against their interests' (that is, against what you believe their interests are) but can't articulate why are stupid.

Are people who vote 'for their interests' (that is, for what you believe their interests are) but can't articulate why also stupid?

I'm curious about this non-stupid guy you posited, who can soundly reason about his vote 'against his interest' (that is, against what you believe his interest is) - is there any reason he can't make the same argument as you from his reverse perspective?

I'm wondering why you don't leave your subjective opinions about others' interests out of it, and just say 'people who can't soundly reason about their votes are stupid' - something relatively uncontroversial. Or is your sound reasoning somehow automatically superior to other people's sound reasoning?


> 'against their interests' (that is, against what you believe their interests are)

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

It's not what I believe their interests are. It's what THEY claim their interests are. I'm sorry, but if you claim to vote to a party because "they believe in small government", despite the last 30 years of data showing that government & expenses grow under said party control much more than under the other party's control, then you are not smart.

The specific example I gave was of JtP, who was (for a short time) a hero and looked upon figure in a section of the population. His vote and declared interests (as declared by himself) do not align, and his reasoning is flawed. And unfortunately, that is extremely common.

> Are people who vote 'for their interests' (that is, for what you believe their interests are) but can't articulate why also stupid?

I don't know. Do you? I mean, you might be doing "the right thing" for the right reasons, in which case you are not stupid, and you might be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, in which case you are stupid (but lucky). I was discussing cases in which there is apparent evidence for improvement of outcome.

> is there any reason he can't make the same argument as you from his reverse perspective?

No, he can (and should) make the same arugment about me, making me non stupid but working against my interests from his perspective. Which is a base for discussion - he might convince me (or might not, or we might agree to disagree), and find some way to work together.

e.g. one might believe that government should backstop failing banks, and one might not. There might be evidence one way or the other, but probably not conclusive evidence. Either one of us may believe the other is working against his interest. And neither of us will really be wrong.

> and just say 'people who can't soundly reason about their votes are stupid' - something relatively uncontroversial.

That's actually what I was trying to say. I was just focusing about the thing that highlights a subset of those people: working against their own interests. NOT what I believe their interests are (that's what you assume, but never have I said that), but about what they declare their interests to be (I should have been more clear about that).


yes, but bill gates and warren buffet have good, sound reasons that might go against their selfish interests, but leave society as a whole better off. the anti-health-care people have no such reasons, and if they think they do they're badly misinformed, stupid, spiteful (because free healthcare would mean "undeserving" people get a "free ride"), or some mixture of the above.


anti-health-care people have no such reasons

If you think it's that one-sided, you need to spend more time listening to the opposition. Here are some good reasons to oppose public health care:

- It will be more expensive due to government inefficiency

- There will be no incentive to innovate

- Health care run by government bureaucrats will be uncompassionate, due to distance from the community, and may not appropriately value human life and suffering

- A government that owns your health care can deny it to you

- Public health care options compete unfairly with private ones

You may not think these are good reasons, but a person doesn't have to be badly misinformed, stupid, or spiteful to find them persuasive.


> You may not think these are good reasons, but a person doesn't have to be badly misinformed, stupid, or spiteful to find them persuasive.

Actually, a person has to be willingly uninformed to find them persuasive. Because there are actually case studies to be made, rather than evaluate ideas in vacuum:

- more expensive: It costs much less in every other country that has a single payer system, despite government inefficiency (including the Swiss and German system, where everything is private even though it's single payer, and the UK, France and Israel where it is public or private, and in Canada where it is completely public). And yet, those countries enjoy better health in every possible measurement.

- innovation: Those places all comparable innovation to the US (especially if normalized to "average entrepreneurship level" of the country - e.g. there's much less of that in Germany and France in general, but actually much more in Israel)

- uncompassionate: That is demonstrably not true in the above countries. Furthermore, the private system in the US is already demonstrably not compassionate in any way.

- government can deny health care: Government can do anything it pleases, like jail you, or confiscate all money not on your person at a press of a button (and if you're going through texas, all money on your person as well. Oops, can't pay for healthcare! private healthcare denied for you!) - that's a strawman. If you look at Switzerland, Japan, UK, France, Canada, ..., people who get on the wrong side of the government get better healthcare than people on the right side of the government in the US. No one is denied healthcare! The Israelis even treat the Gazans they bombarded the day before.

- Unfair competition: That's your only statement that is not demonstrably false using a counterexample. In fact, it's true. That's because it makes healthcare into a utility, much like schooling and water supply.

So, one reason that is not based on demonstrably false assumptions. That one is debatable; some people think healthcare should be available like schools, others do not. That should be what is being discussed, not the other reasons.

I actually listened to the other side, and heard one other good reason to avoid public health care:

- There is no reason people who care about their health should subsidize people who don't take care of their health (w.r.t exercise, nutrition, alcohol and drug consumption, regular medical attention, etc) as the latter consume much more healthcare services.

Which is again debatable: The same is true for basically every other shared cost facility (including utilities, fire services, police forces, road use, ...)

If the debate was around that, I would be happy. But somehow, in American politics, it has always been improper to bring up facts and case studies. And recently, it is becoming bad form to use logic.


>The Israelis even treat the Gazans they bombarded the day before.

They also treat the Gazans who bombed Israelis a day before: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/08/world/in-israeli-bed-faile...


I'll only nit-pick on your comment "And yet, those countries enjoy better health in every possible measurement."

Yes, they enjoy better health if you measure using blunt tools like "life expectancy". Of course, life expectancy is impacted by many more factors other than health care.

If you measure by things like "access to the latest technology/drugs" and "overall survival from first diagnosis of cancer" the US comes out on top in many, many areas despite the lack of uniform coverage.

Again, using blunt tools like life expectancy, one would argue that the UK has a better healthcare system. Of course, if you're a cystic fibrosis patient and can't afford the $300K/yr for the drug Kalydeco because the NHS doesn't cover it (although nearly every insurance company in the US covers), it doesn't quite seem that great.


I am curious to know if you or some relative actually has CF or if you are merely talking out your ass? I have CF and so does my oldest son. There are countries in Europe with better life expectancy, quality of life, etc for CF than the US has. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for the criticisms I have for your ridiculous statement. So just wondering here if you are merely pulling out inflamatory bs just cuz or if you or some relative happen to be in the 5% of CF patients who have the right alleles to potentially benefit from this specific drug.


I'm not sure where the hostility is coming from.

Although Kalydeco has been approved, it is unavailable in the UK to most of the patients who qualify for it as it is undergoing a "pricing assessment".

My argument is two fold: 1) Measure such as "life expectancy" are a poor indicator of the quality of health care one receives. 2) Although the US healthcare system has many problems, it covers many, many drugs, often used to treat serious illnesses such as CF and cancer that aren't covered by countries that have single payer systems.

So I take it you disagree?


You are the second person on HN to describe me as hostile. I am not. Feverish and crabby perhaps, but not aimed at you. Sorry.

I have gotten off 8 or 9 prescription drugs. I strongly disagree with measuring quality of life by how doped to the gills you can get on someone else's dime. And the measure you dismiss as "blunt" -- longevity -- has its good points as a rule of thumb measure. Stuff that kills usually isn't exactly good for your quality of life prior to killing you.

The drug in question is designed to help a tiny portion of the CF population which is an "orphan disease" to begin with. It is deadly and involves a lot of suffering, so it is a "dread disease". I think using a new drug that has the potential to help a mere 1500 Americans as your example because of the strong emotions associated with "saving" someone from something so awful amounts to a bullshit example.

Also, I worked for an American insurance company for five years. My diagnosis automatically disqualified me from some of their policies. So I suspect the reason American companies claim to cover this drug is because American rules are designed such that people with CF have trouble getting coverage at all. I was an industry insider for five years. I know how they make their money. Spending jillions on a small number of very needy people is not how they line their shareholder's pockets.

Most likely, they won't pay for it in England in part because that would involve actually paying that ridiculously high annual bill because I believe they have some form of national coverage. The American companies may list it as a covered medication, then do everything in their power to not cover any of the mere 1500 Americans with the alleles it is supposed to help. Plus the initial reports were spindoctored to boost company stock. There is a certain amount of hype surrounding this drug. It is generally a bad example to give as some kind of "proof" that Americans have it better.

I also have multiple relatives who have or have had cancer. For brevity's sake, suffice it to say I am not as impressed as you are with the American approach to treating it.


> things like "access to the latest technology/drugs"

That's not actually a valid measure. It is based on the assumption that newer=better. Because of how the US drug market works, as soon as a patent expires, the companies will work hard to discredit older treatments and find new patentable ones, including statistically invalid manipulation of the research data.

> "overall survival from first diagnosis of cancer" the US comes out on top in many, many areas despite the lack of uniform coverage.

While that is true (as far as I know), it comes out on top but not by a significant margin; and the base cancer and diabetes rates are much higher. This may or may not be attributable to the US health system, but I'm sure it does have a part (In the US, you get a pill for everything. In most single payer health systems, you get dietary and exercise advice before you get a pill for something chronic).

> if you're a cystic fibrosis patient and can't afford the $300K/yr for the drug Kalydeco because the NHS doesn't cover it (although nearly every insurance company in the US covers),

Well, Mz just commented about this specific example. I'm somewhat familiar with the Israeli single payer system (I have relatives that unfortunately had to use it extensively) - and it covers every single proven life saving treatment (life extending treatments are covered depending on a cost/benefit model). I don't know what their exact definition for proven is - but the Doc I talked to said it was reasonable (FDA approved, at least 1 year on the market since approval, and a few other similar requirements).

And the most important thing? With the exception of Canada, I think every single payer country lets you have supplemental private insurance if you want, for those live extending treatments, and e.g. if you want to be treated in a private/hotel hospital, or in a different country of your choice.

The dichotomy of "single payer vs. private" is a false one, just like public schools don't eliminate private schools - it just establishes a baseline that everyone has access to, and requires the private industry to deliver significantly more value.


Fine, but I think it's obvious that we're talking about the ignorant subset that have no idea of the disparity between themselves and the top people that they delude themselves into thinking they're just an inch away from... meanwhile voting against the policies that would give them a fighting chance of ACTUAL social mobility.


Oh, why didn't you just say you were insulting poor people? Now I totally understand.


That's not what I said, I'm not sure how you took that. There are plenty of people who don't mean over 100K that are neither poor, nor have any stake in the wealthy getting tax cuts. I don't understand what you're fighting here, this is a well documented phenomena of delusion.


Assuming such a large number of people are idiots seems like a really unhealthy attitude to have.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority


While the George Carlin quote is tongue-in-cheek, and illusory superiority is a bad trait, it is likely that there are areas in which you are better than your peers, and areas where you are lesser than your peers, and it's not impossible (though by no means easy) to measure this in a mostly-objective way. Same goes for illusory inferiority, which is an even worse problem, because it stops you from getting to your potential.

Personally, I try to measure myself objectively by averaging comparables. e.g. Around age 20, I figured out that I cannot blame my horrible shape on my genetics (even though they were at the root of it) - because I knew too many people with similar problems who were in much better shape than I was. So I figured out what the problem really was, and at age 20, after never having been able to complete a run of one mile, built my endurance to 10 miles over 6 months.

As for superiority, you can write down your predictions, and then evaluate them later; you'll see if your feeling of superiority is justified or illusory.

And it REALLY IS helpful to know when you are superior in some respect - or you'll be wasting your time and effort needlessly.


newer generations keep voting against their own interests.

Yes, this is normal. People do not vote for their own interests. As a rule, they vote unselfishly, in a way that they believe reflects the community or national interests. [1]

If you want people to vote for your idea, you need to convince them that your idea is good policy for everyone, not that it benefits them personally.

[1] http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/ssq.pdf


Well, we get into the philosophical definition of what "their own interests" are.

But in general - the statement that "people do not vote unselfishly or in a way they believe reflects the community" is false. It is true that some do. I've read some research before from western countries that have a multiparty system (UK, Germany, France, Israel, ...) and with very high probability, people vote for whoever it is their parents do. It's not national interests - it's familial interests and/or identity. (And, sorry, I can't find a link to that right now)


The realization that many people are not actually smart enough to figure their own interests [...]

People do what is in their own interest by definition. That's the only way you can be sure what their interest is. I think what you're complaining about is people not doing what you believe you would do in their position.


> People do what is in their own interest by definition.

No, people do what they believe at that point in time is in their interest, and may (and often do) revise and reverse their beliefs a moment later.

May acts, like voting, are by virtue of being done every e.g. 4 years, are supposed to reflect long term interest.

An analogy: Your immediate interest might be to get the gratification from eating a jelly doughnut, though your long term interest might be to lose weight and be more fit and healthy.

I'm referring to the many people who vote once every 4 years to eat a doughnut every single day of the next 4 years. There are a lot of them, and they are voting against their (long term) interests.


How do you figure the people are voting against themselves? Do you know what their preferences are or what they value?


So...

Coerced charity is better than actual charity? If I do good deed X at the point of a gun, I am a better person than someone who does it of their own accord? Really?


It's not about being a better person. Charity is not about being a better person. It's about helping people. And the purpose of government is to put systems in place that can give help to all the people who need it, as close to all the time as possible.

Larry Page is a fantastic man for doing this, OP is not disputing that. But it would be nice if children were guaranteed a flu shot regardless of whether a particular fantastic person decides they should get it. Charity is wonderful, but non-broken government is even better.


>And the purpose of government is to put systems in place that can give help to all the people who need it, as close to all the time as possible.

That is a hefty thing to assert. If you ask some Afghan kid what the purpose of the U.S. government is I think you would get a different answer.


Any contractual obligation, any transaction, is implicitly backed by the threat of violence. If you believe free enterprise can be more effective than government assistance, you believe "coerced charity" is better.

You got anything better than platitudes?


The difference is that a person can opt-out of a transaction or contract in free enterprise. Don't sign the contract, and there's no threat of violence, implicit or otherwise.

On the other hand, there's no way for a person to opt-out of government coercion.


@Cushman History has shown pretty clearly that governments on the more-coercive side of the spectrum have caused more death and destruction than those on the less-coercive side.

A government coercing dollars out of a population by force and a society that is based on using products produced by people other than themselves are two different things altogether.


> History has shown pretty clearly that governments on the more-coercive side of the spectrum have caused more death and destruction than those on the less-coercive side.

I'm not seeing it. Absent governments in the third world cause quite a bit of death and destruction every year.

> A government coercing dollars out of a population by force and a society that is based on using products produced by people other than themselves are two different things altogether.

Until somebody steals something. Then you've got two options: Either you let them take it, in which case you're communist and don't have property, or you chase them down and make them give it back, in which case you're a despot and every transaction made is only made with your implicit consent.

There ain't no free enterprise.


Of course you can-- you can move somewhere else. But you'll be likely to find that places without "government coercion", i.e. government, are not as much nicer as you had imagined.

Many millions of people are materially dependent on individual corporations, with no meaningful ability to opt out. Not really seeing the difference here.


"Many millions of people are materially dependent on individual corporations, with no meaningful ability to opt out."

<sarcasm>Well then they can move somewhere else...</sarcasm>

What you're describing isn't free enterprise, so it's disingenuous to use it as an example as if it's the normal case. I could use North Korea as an example of excessive government, but I'm not because I realize it's not the usual case.


What you're describing isn't free enterprise

Correct. Government is not free enterprise. To govern a body is to take control of it to a certain extent.

We can quibble about how much control is too much, but that's the topic of this debate, not whether or not the government is controlling. I rather think "free enterprise" leads to horrible things when said "enterprise" begins to affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and I like that we build systems to manage those large-scale enterprises rather than leaving them up to individual whim. It would be nice if we had more of those systems – say, to stop children from getting sick and dying just because their parents couldn't find work.


The problem with that is that "coerced charity" through taxation is not a contractual obligation one willingly enters into. Did you sign something saying you would pay taxes for government assisted programs? I know I didn't.

Non-coerced charitable donations are more effective because individuals are putting their own dollars to causes they care about, and therefore have an actual interest in seeing their dollars be spent wisely.


By being born in the United States, and as a child of citizens of the United States, I became a citizen of the United States. This entitles me to rights, like the ability to travel anywhere I like across the continent without impediment, as well as to obligations, like paying taxes on my income or military service in the event of war.

The obvious implication of this arrangement is that I rely on the United States every moment of my life, I wouldn't exist in the first place without the United States, and I owe something back to the United States for putting that whole thing together for me. But, if that's just a bridge too far, the United States is reluctantly willing to wash its hands of the whole thing and walk away if I am-- all I have to do is live somewhere else.

I've never understood what makes this concept difficult or complex.


I don't think that is a difficult concept to understand, but the implication of it is that you don't actually have a right to own property. If you own a home, you are merely using your country's land temporarily. If you perform a job and receive wages, those wages are not yours - but instead they belong to the country.

What I believe is that people innately have rights, regardless of what government regime happens to preside over them. The best governments are ones that are set up to protect those innate rights. To protect rights by taking rights away is a concept that doesn't make sense to me.


I'd modify your "people innately have rights" to "there are freedoms which benefit both individuals and the communities they're a part of, which should be treated as innate rights." A bit wordier, but useful in defining what, specifically, entitles us to any particular right.

Personally, I think our right to health is more precious than our right to property or wealth. I'm not opposed to wealth by any means, and entrepreneurialism is a wonderfully fun enterprise, but they are lesser concerns than whether or not people are dying for preventable reasons. Ideally, a government encourages both health and entrepreneurialism by finding ways to pay people searching for more effective healthcare, then by rewarding the people who find it, but that's not what we're debating here.

The answer to "Should the government take my money to pay for somebody else's flu shot, if they cannot afford it?" is a near-unequivocal yes, for me, with the one condition being that I have enough money to afford that flu shot for them. Some people can pay for many more flu shots than I can, and I do believe that it's moral to request that they do so.


Are you universally dualist, or only when it comes to governance? It seems as if we only know these "innate" rights through the protection of government.


Theoretically, the government has an interest in seeing their dollars spent wisely, because if they don't, then people will get angry and vote them out of office. Currently, thanks to a generation of media exploitation, we have an ill-informed public and two parties which don't represent a healthy, balanced set of choices for American citizens – but I don't blame the government for that so much as I blame Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, and the 70s-80s paleoconservatives that spent decades building misinformation into our media.

Very few things in life are willingly entered into. You didn't choose to be born in the place that you did, to the parents that you have, in the race or gender or of the sexual orientation which are yours, in the economic strata that you did. Simply being a user on Hacker News suggests that you've had at least a streak of good luck in your life that's given you the know-how and the comforts that enable you to post on a forum, to know which forum you'd like to post in, to understand the subjects well enough that you've decided you want to participate. We disproved that the heavens rotated around the earth, much less any one specific person, a long time ago; and with it, we began to throw out the notion that any one individual is entitled to rights or to privilege that are not derived from the consensus of her fellow citizens.

This is the basis of all civilization, of every society that's ever been; and progress has been a process that involves making "fellow citizens" as diverse a group as possible. Right now there are arguments over whether we should consider economically disadvantaged people our fellows – while we all would like to say we think they're our equals, we don't seem to think they have the rights to things like flu shots with the rest of us are allowed to take somewhat for granted. And it's not "equal" to tell them they ought to wait around for good people to give them things, because frankly there has never been a society in the world in which good people are so prevalent that there has been enough charitable donation to go around.

Private citizens giving to charity is great. If you have the money for it, donate money; good on Larry Page for this. But people being good doesn't preclude government from being a good idea, and it makes sense to point out, as we laud Page for being such an upstanding citizen of San Francisco, that it's a tragedy how costly even flu shots are, how terrible it is that in the 21st century it's still possible for kids to die of the flu for reasons entirely beyond their control, and that we should all be thinking about how, perhaps, we might make this issue a permanent thing of the past.


yes, there is a contract. its Rousseau's social contract: Each of us places his person and authority under the supreme direction of the general will, and the group receives each individual as an indivisible part of the whole


> If you believe free enterprise can be more effective than government assistance, you believe "coerced charity" is better.

I don't understand this. Where is the coercion with donated vaccines?


Prices also often shoot up. Not to mention unintended consequences. Look at the whole birth control situation. A study of a contraceptive mandate in Hawaii back in 2001 ( http://hawaii.gov/dcca/ins/reports/2001_contraceptive_report... ) increased pregnancies as well as costs to all participating in the plan (even those that didn't want the coverage). I don't discount the good intentions of programs like these, I just think it's naive to think that simply throwing more money at these problems is a scalable solution.


It's bad for society to believe a problem is actually being solved by charity that only happens when you feel like it. That just amplifies our problems during recessions, in which those donations start drying up when they're needed most. It's like building a city behind a dam that won't be strong enough to hold back the next flood.


No but, free health care is better than charitable health care.


There's no such thing as "free" health care. Not to suggest that the solution to our health care problems is simply through the kindness and charity of those that can afford it.


"free" is generally short for "free at the point of use."


Do the people whose lives are saved care?


Yes.


Sadly all the money that could have paid for this went to buying air puffers for the TSA that now sit in a warehouse.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12...


There are a lot of things you could pay for if you gutted the TSA. Unfortunately, most people (including many very intelligent and educated individuals) continue to believe in security theater, and the companies that profit off of it know how to keep up the propaganda so the people don't realize they're being duped out of millions of dollars in wasted tax revenue.


Shame on you for turning an act of charity into a political argument.


I disagree. I find it a valid observation of the other side of this situation. And, personally, I did not sign up on HN in order to pat Larry Page on the back.

(However generous and necessary his action was. The other side of this situation is that public society could not manage this basic -- and ultimately, even self-serving, keeping incidents of flu and associated loss of not just well-being but also productivity, for those who view things in dollars and cents -- service for itself.

(See? If it hadn't been for all those ear infections in my infancy, perhaps I could write a coherent sentence. ;-) )

As I reflect upon this, I imagine Page might well be one of the first to agree with this. Perhaps precisely why he made the donation.

So, there too, this story invites the conversation. Why did Page do this? Is there an underlying circumstance perhaps worthy of discussion? I'd say, yes.

P.S. Just to note: I did not vote you down. I'm interested in the conversation this engenders, not in karma/ranking. :-) I don't mean to sound as if I'm bashing you (in case I nonetheless come across this way); I'm interested in perspectives on whether society, through its government, should be capable of and indeed executing such a program for itself.

For my part, I don't think the shots should be forced upon people. (Which has been a problem, at times.) But I think a good, balanced, and truly informative campaign on the topic of vaccinations should be executed, and that for those in hardship, at the least, low or no cost access to vaccinations should be offered. It doesn't just serve them; it serves us all. (Although I'm of somewhat mixed view of the merit of flu vaccinations for the wholesale population, myself.)


It should be noted that charity is very political, so it is not surprising someone would talk about in that context. After all, charity attempts to make up for shortfall in social and political systems and institutions.


"public health should be funded by the public through taxes"

But they didn't.

You might want to consider thinking about that for a while. It's actually very, very important.


I can't parse your comment, could you clarify?

(Possibly, "They[the public] didn't [fund public health through taxes]"?)


I dont think anyone is suggesting it should be paid through the 'whims of the 1%'


Why would you even post this comment in this thread?


Unfortunately, all I can think about is how the conspiracy theorists will respond. "Billionaire providing free VACCINES? Google?!? SAN FRANCISCO?!?!"


If I recall correctly this has already been covered in an episode of The Simpsons. Free vacines are just a means for the government (now Google) to control our minds, Ned Flanders had it all figured out!


"Simpsons did it!" -General Disarray


Same exact thought haha


I'm glad Larry has finally answered definitively how to end parentheticals with smilies.


Buy a kid a $10 flu shot, vaccinate him for a year. Teach a kid to buy his own $10 flu shot, vaccinate him for a lifetime.


Yay, child labor.


The amount of negativity and even in anger in the HN comments here is amazing. A successful entrepreneur uses some of his money to provide children with vaccines - how can people respond badly to that?


I think this is a nice gesture by a public figure. I don't think this is something to take seriously as an approach to a long-term goal, but instead as something to be inspired by. Thanks Larry Page. :)


Let's see, maybe 900k kids, even if it was discounted in bulk to $10, that's $9 million.

If half the kids take advantage of it and it's really $20 in bulk, same $9 million.


cdc.gov has price lists for the vaccine. Apparently individual doses are around $1 each. You still need someone to administer it, but Target may be providing that.

http://198.246.98.21/vaccines/programs/vfc/awardees/vaccine-... (cdc.gov isn't resolving at the moment)


Yes, the challenge is not the physical products. It's the labor of getting it to people and administering it.

(I still haven't gotten my free flu shot at CVS because there is always a long line there.)


Free healthcare, long lines? Say it ain't so.


As a counter to that view, my daughter needed an eye operation 3 weeks ago, squint correction, 2 muscles on each eye. Saw the specialist, operation 8 days later. If I'd had a choice of date it would have been further away. New Zealand, tax payer funded (so not free as such), socialised cost. Successful operation. Edit: auto correct issues


It's not "free because it's CVS." If I had no insurance, CVS would still charge me, because they have legitimate labor costs that need to be covered.

I was just making a personal statement. Because it is free for me, there's no financial reason for me to avoid it. But waiting in a line is a hassle, and I have no reason to believe that everyone in line is there for a flu shot.

Good on Page for offering it in multiple places like Target stores. I hope they stick around for a while so people can choose to go when the lines are short.


Flu shots aren't free in the US? I suppose I should have guessed.


One can provide free flu shots, or one can pay for flu shots. Obviously, Larry did one or the other. Otherwise, it would be quite a publicity stunt to claim to be paying for something that was free. :)


Point taken, slight title edit. Will probably be changed by mod or automated reversion anyway.


Are the kids required to present proof of Google+ activity first?


Haha. Exactly what I was thinking. I am sure there's a "Vaccinated by Larry Group on Google+" group coming soon.


"if we do a really great job on new vaccines... we could lower [world population] by 10 or 15 percent" - Bill Gates


"First we've got population. Now, the world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about nine billion. Now, if we do a really great on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by, perhaps, 10 or 15 percent, but there we see an increase of about 1.3."


"..."

You don't say! (He certainly didn't.)


Glad to see him following the Gates' lead.


Interesting Meta-Analysis of the Cochrane Collaboration: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004879/vaccines-for-preventi...


As someone said here, best charity is anonymous. Meanwhile, Brin is in the news for scooping up properties and renting them out "to the needy". I remember the press Page and Brin were getting 5 or 6 years ago for helping out a filmmaker... to the tune of 200 or 250k. Many people I know do more, and more often, without any kind of public praise.

This kind of publicity should really cost more. And if you truly care about helping people, make an anonymous donation, instead of milking it for all its worth.


Well done to Larry Page, doesn't matter if its a PR (which I doubt) situation, he's directly improving the quality of life for a large group. Kudos to him. Flu seems trivial but often ends up distinctly not in kids.


Larry Page, major germaphobe, disinfects entire Bay Area.


time for tim cook to step up


Free $9 lattes to everyone with a Macbook Pro and in the $250,000 or more tax bracket!

No, just kidding, they'll horde it for lawsuits.


I was getting my hopes up... :p


Ladies and gentlemen, start your conspiracy engines.


Props and this is a great thing. But it shouldn't erase all the morally bad things Google is actively doing. It's like a Dictator giving candy to the kids for the cameras while still actively oppressing people behind the scenes. There does happen to be a huge FTC case (that will be probably dropped) and a possible DOJ case against Google right now.


Free for children? Shame that Apple's factory workers don't live in San Francisco. ZING!


This is ridiculous. Why doesn't he spend more of his time and money building Google's customer service? Has everyone suddenly forgotten the Google Apps story from yesterday? They presumably stopped giving out free accounts to maximize profits, and yet this imbecile is going around burning his cash on preventing the spread of influenza and other diseases.

Your self-driving vehicles are the future, Larry. Why would you invest in helping more people survive when we'll actually end up leading less of them because of all the driver/cab jobs you'll be eliminating?


This is a joke.


I found it amusing.


If this an experiment? Is it the 1% being magnanimous? Is this that he doesn't want his employees to get the flu?

Nevertheless a nice gesture - though there may be more effective ways to spend the $$$ on the public good.


> Is this that he doesn't want his employees to get the flu?

Google already provides free on-site flu vaccines for Googlers, and vouchers for Googler family members.


I suspect all Google employees already have good enough health care to get a free flu shot for their family without this, he's making sure all others do too?

The flu makes society horribly unproductive (and cranky) so it's a public good.


It would be nice if he's just being magnanimous, but I actually hope it's an experiment ... will there be a notable difference in flu rates in the area as a result of this? will there be any other statistical blips that can be correlated to fewer infections? I'm hoping they're tracking the heck out of this effort :P


I vaguely remember Google had a flu tracker last year.

Ah here it is http://www.google.org/flutrends/

You are right, it will be interesting to see if this makes a difference statistically.

Unfortunately their tracker doesn't go down to metro areas, only state.

Oh wait, there are a few cities, here is SF http://www.google.org/flutrends/us/#1014221


It probably won't even show up. There have been some unintentional experiments with the flu vaccine, such as the year production got botched or that the people in charge of predicting which strains to include guessed wrong. There were no noticeable increases in sickness or morbidity in those years.

Don't take this too far; the data is very noisy and maybe it was there and we just didn't see it. Flu vaccines do seem to work in labs and in small community experiments.


This is nice... though with a universal health system it doesn't need to be limited to one city.


HUGE response -- I guess the sarcasm was a little subtle.


Is it the 1% being magnanimous?

The class warfare rhetoric is B.S.


Blame the Republicans who created the conditions for class warfare in the first place.


"Blame the people who bring it up in irrelevant contexts" sounds like something people would actually do.


A good thing is still a good thing even if it's done for bad reasons.

(Hell, a good thing is a good thing even if it's done for completely insane reasons, too.)


If you think flu shots are good then this is good but if you know the truth about flu shots it's quite scary.


If you think vaccines are bad you need to get a better education.


Actually, you should educate yourself. The overwhelming majority of vaccines are solid and probably one of the most important discoveries mankind has ever made.

The flu "vaccine" however, is at best 50% effective and is frequently 0% effective. Notice how you have to vaccinate every year for it? But not for anything else? Yeah, it's because it's constantly mutating and it's a moving target.

We still haven't figured out how to nail that target. What's worse, you need to go to a doctor to get vaccinated ... guess where the majority of infections occur? The place where many people congregate. Especially sick people.

I'm all for vaccinations, but not if they have to be done on an annual basis and are best-case-scenario 50% effective.


This is flat out idiotic.

1. The influenza vaccine is a vaccine. Putting "vaccine" in scare quotes is either ignorant or utterly disingenuous. Or, more likely, both.

2. Even 50% efficacy is sufficient to dramatically reduce both the incidence and mortality of the disease.

3. The number of people who develop influenza because they got sneezed on in line waiting to get their vaccination is insignificant compared to the number of people who won't get sick because people get vaccinated.


> This is flat out idiotic.

So nothing I said is factually incorrect, but what I wrote is idiotic? Good job.

> The influenza vaccine is a vaccine. Putting "vaccine" in scare quotes is either ignorant or utterly disingenuous. Or, more likely, both.

Perfectly justified considering it's much less effective than other vaccines. So it is a "vaccine".

> Even 50% efficacy is sufficient to dramatically reduce both the incidence and mortality of the disease.

That's the best case scenario. What exactly is the benefit if it's 5%? What if it's 0%? Those are real percentages from years over the last decade.

Last year was very good. This year? Who knows.

> The number of people who develop influenza because they got sneezed on in line waiting to get their vaccination is insignificant compared to the number of people who won't get sick because people get vaccinated.

You realize you can get something else there too, right? And you'll get it by touching the door or the doctor not washing their hands ... not by somebody sneezing at you.


>Perfectly justified considering it's much less effective than other vaccines. So it is a "vaccine".

The definition of vaccine is: A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease.

Nowhere does it say with 100% efficacy...


It's idiotic because it is idiocy.

A vaccine is a vaccine; arbitrary judgments about it's general efficacy over some hand-wavey timespan doesn't change that. And no, it's not justified to redefine it.


Are you really saying that risk of nosocomial infection is sufficient to offset the value of influenza vaccination? Really?


Influenza is a horrible virus. I want it eradicated as much as anyone. What I don't want is for us to pretend we have a solution, when we clearly do not.

That removes the incentive for us to find a real answer.

I took my infant daughter to get her second flu shot last week (babies get two). She contracted a stomach virus at the doctors' office. She was puking for hours, repeatedly, even when she had nothing to throw up. We took her to the emergency room. A day later, fever and diarrhea for me. Same for my wife. Fun, right?

If my baby doesn't get the flu, this will count as a success story. Part of the "50%" that worked. I don't even want to think about the years they don't get up to that 50% ...

And I'm supposed to do this every year?

> Are you really saying that risk of nosocomial infection is sufficient to offset the value of influenza vaccination? Really?

Yes. If you think I'm off, I want to see math, not hysterics and italics.

At best, twice as many people die from nosocomial infection as influenza in the US. At worst, twenty times as many. That's all from the CDC.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.h...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosocomial_infection


Zeroth, that's terrible to hear about your daughter. I sincerely hope that she's better. First, there is no answer to a zoonotic infection as mutable as influenza. There are only degrees of remediation. Finding a cure for flu is almost certainly impossible.

Second, nobody disputes the seriousness of nosocomial infection; but to baldly state that you face the same risk in an outpatient vaccination clinic as in e.g. the ICU or the ER is just flat out bonkers.

Finally, I was intemperate in my original language. I apologize.


This conveniently ignores the fact that we're essentially creating a vaccine resistant flu virus by natural selection.


I'd like to apologize to the OP (and to the rest of you) for my language. It was pointlessly argumentative and basically abusive.


50% efficacy in an individual could still have a dramatic effect on the overall infection rate. The purpose of getting vaccinated is not to protect you, it is to protect the community. If each of the people with whom you come in contact has their likelihood of being infected reduced by 50%, your chance of being infected may be reduced by much more than that.

I don't know what the relationship is between vaccination efficacy and infection rate in this specific case, but on its own a low-ish individual efficacy does not mean a vaccine isn't worth using.


The "50% efficacy" doesn't indicate that the vaccine provides 50% effectiveness in blocking a particular influenza; rather it stems from the fact that the particular influenza(s) being targeted might not be the ones passing through an area. "The flu" is an umbrella term for a number of different infectious strains (that mutate), and the object of the game is to detect early on which virulent, dangerous and uncommon strains (already active elsewhere) are most likely to spread widely and vaccinate against them. Frequently, less-virulent strains to which a large percentage of the population has already been exposed will be ignored (hitting somebody with hundreds of strains to develop immunity to simultaneously reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine for all of them). And there's always the chance that a particularly nasty strain may become epidemic after this year's vaccine has been formulated and distributed (in which case, there may or may not be an effective vaccine available in time for people to develop immunity to that strain). So even though you have been effectively vaccinated against the targeted strain(s), you can still contract other strains. And you may have a miserable time dealing with something you did catch, which can keep you from thoproughly enjoying the fact that you didn't catch something that may have been many, many times worse.


That is true.

Now, vaccines DO sometimes have complications - last time I got a vaccine (tetanus, 8 years ago), my elbow got swollen to about twice its size and was hard to bend. They weren't sure what went wrong (contaminated vaccine, parasitic infection, ??) but I had to take a two week course of antibiotics (which carries its own problems ...)

I'm sure at the herd level, 50% efficacy for individual vaccines is great.

But on a personal level, I can't find any analysis that takes into account both efficacy ("value") and complications ("price").

And on a personal note, I have the flu maybe once in ten years (if even that), despite hanging around people who get it regularly -- which is why I don't even consider getting a flu vaccine.

There is almost no research about how to improve general immune function, and I believe results on that front would be much more useful than a 50% efficacy vaccine.


Actually, it is even more dramatic. Infection rate is essentially binary: either the disease spreads (which means the number of sick people goes up until pretty much everyone in the community who is not immune gets it - this is called epidemic) or the number of sick people decreases and the disease dies off. There is a tipping point depending on the percentage of people who is immune. For common flu you need to have 50-70% vaccinated to prevent epidemic (its basic reproduction number, R0 per wiki article, is between 2 and 3).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_modelling_of_infec...


You have to go to the Internet to download anti-virus. Guess where the majority of infections occur? The place where PCs congregate. Especially sick PCs.

Anti-virus is bad.


My OS comes with anti-virus built-in. Don't download useless shit from the Internet.


Now you're being intentionally obtuse.


> The flu "vaccine" however, is at best 50% effective and is frequently 0% effective.

This earned you a downvote. I don't know that you're wrong, but you can't make a claim like this without some link to back you up.


There is a lot of resources available (http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20111025/how-effectiv...). Numbers like 40%, 50%, 60%, 70% appear in research - a lot of bias.

"While the vaccine does work, and we still recommend that it be used, it does not demonstrate the kind of efficacy that has often been reported," says study researcher Michael T. Osterholm, MD, of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy." - from "Lancet"

In case of flu it is difficult to measure vaccine effectivness since it is often hard to figure out if someone got flu or was attacked by some other virus that has similar symptoms.

It is usually not feasible to do indepth virus (genetical?) analysis to check which kind of virus attacted given sick person.

Symptoms are so common to many other virsu infections, so the data is very noisy and it can work both againts and for vaccines.

It would be cool if some HN community member figure out to measure that better :)


The strain of influenza each year is different. In order to create enough of the vaccine companies need to start making it before it's known which strain will be active. They make an educated guess with varying degrees of accuracy. Some years they get it spot on, some years they don't.


Do you have numbers to back up the idea that the flu vaccine is not useful, or are you just scaremongering?


You do realize there are numerous variants of influenza.

For the most part, the vaccine is limited to those of the highest level of exposure (infection rate).

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

"The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine."

Why run the risk of endangering yourself or others of infection?


> What's worse, you need to go to a doctor to get vaccinated

Huh? It's been years since I got a flu vaccine from a doctor. I usually get them at the drug store, when I'm there anyway to pick up a prescription. One year, I got it at a Safeway.


I'm all for vaccinations, but not if they have to be done on an annual basis and are best-case-scenario 50% effective.

Have you heard of evolution?


I apologize for the outburst.. I should have attributed a source to back up my claim.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/files/80/ccivi%20report.pdf

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20121025/business/7102599...

http://naturalhealthdossier.com/2012/10/the-preventative-mea...

please note I never said "vaccines are bad" = ad hominem


Why do you post a (seemingly?) good source along with two silly sources?

The daily herald article talks about a faulty product which was withdrawn by the manufacturer.

The Natural Health Dossier page is obvious nonsense and not worth comment.

Your position is made weaker by including those bad sources.

Just posting the cidrap source, with quotes, would have been better.


Dan,

The sources are diverse and just a small sample of what is out there hence why I posted them.

Do you want any of the following vaccine constituents in YOUR bloodstream?

  Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)

  Phenol, also known as carbolic acid (this is used as a disinfectant, dye)

  Formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent

  Aluminum, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease and seizures and also cancer producing in laboratory mice (it is used as an additive to promote antibody response)

  Thimerosal(a *mercury* disinfectant/preservative) can result in brain injury and autoimmune disease

  Neomycin and Streptomycin (used as antibiotics) have caused allergic reaction in 
some people.

Have your doctor read you the insert that comes with the vaccine.

Then have him/her explain why it makes sense to inject toxic chemicals into the human body and how such substances can aid the delicate immune system.

Vaccines are also grown and strained through animal or human tissue like monkey kidney tissue, chicken embryo, embryonic guinea pig cells, calf serum, and human diploid cells (the dissected organs of aborted human fetuses as in the case of rubella, hepatitis A, and chickenpox vaccines).


I forget who originally said it, but as the saying goes, "the dose makes the poison".

Most of the things you listed are present in vaccines, but only a tiny fraction of the amount already in your bloodstream (formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury), or amounts too small to possibly be harmful (phenol).

Thimerosal breaks down into ethylmercury, which is way less toxic (on the order of 1/1000th) as methylmercury, the common pollutant that you have to worry about when you eat fish. It can cause brain injury, but not autism.

I don't know much about the specific antibiotics you mentioned, other than to say there is a good reason the person administering the vaccine asks you if you have any allergies, and gives you some symptoms to watch out for. This is one of the (few) real risks of vaccinating, but long-term harm is extraordinarily rare. Much more rare than potential long-term complications of the flu.

No vaccine contains ethylene glycol (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/index.html#appendi...). I've never read the definitive explanation for how this myth started, perhaps because the name sounds similar to other chemicals used in vaccines. However its repetition is a pretty clear signal that the source you're reading is repeating something without verification, or willfully ignoring the facts when it's convenient to their point.


That they make you addicted to AdWords?


Please elaborate.


The standard conspiracy theory is that flu vaccines give you autism and allow the government to read your thoughts. They also are a grand experiment by the Greys to colonize us by weakening our immune systems. Let me know if I left anything out, OP.


I genuinely want to know how a conspiracy theorist thinks. I can understand the though process behind believing a vaccine having side effects like autism, or adverse effect on the immune system. But the line of thought that leads one to believe that a flu vaccine can allow the government to read you thoughts is beyond my comprehension.


Don't forget the lizard people, the UN, and Big Pharma.


Actually the conspiracy theory is that vaccines are designed to lower the birth rate, and Autism is just an unintended side effect of the various heavy metals and toxins.


I know what the standard conspiracy theory is, but I asked for this specific commenter to elaborate.


The goalposts shift, but the conspiracies remain the same.


Butterflies. Because nobody suspects the butterfly.




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