Not To Mention Incorrect Tornado Safety Instructionals

Phone lines? Centers for Disease Control? The connection is the topic of Glenn Reynolds' USA Today column:

You had one job!" is the punchline on a popular Internet meme involving organizational screw-ups. Now critics are saying something similar about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response the agency's handling of the Ebola outbreak. Unfortunately, it's not true. While we'd be better off if the CDC only had one job — you know, controlling disease— the CDC has taken on all sorts of jobs unrelated to that task. Jobs that seem to have distracted its management and led to a performance that even the establishment calls "rocky." Going forward, we need to learn this lesson, for the CDC, for other agencies, and for the government as a whole.

Glenn goes on to write,

In 2014, the CDC received (together with the Public Health Service and related programs) $6.8 billion. But not all of that money went to infectious diseases. In addition to the CDC's supposed raison d'etre, there were programs for:
  • Chronic disease prevention (obesity, heart disease, etc): fiscal 2014 budget approximately $1 billion, or just under 15% of the total budget.
  • Birth defects: $132 million, or just about 2% of the total budget.
  • Environmental health (asthma, safe water, etc): $179 million, 2.6% of total.
  • Injury prevention (domestic violence, brain injury, etc): $150 million, 2.2% of total.
  • Public health services (statistics, surveillance, etc): $482 million, 7% of total.
  • Occupational safety (mostly research): $332 million, 5% of total.
And, of course, the various busy-body looks at playgrounds, smoking in subsidized housing, and the like. As The Federalist's David Harsanyi writes: "The CDC, an agency whose primary mission was to prevent malaria and then other dangerous communicable diseases, is now spending a lot of time, energy and money worrying about how much salt you put on your steaks, how close you stand to second-hand smoke and how often you do calisthenics."
Yup. And, it isn't like these aren't already being done by the government. I have noted -- multiple times -- that someone at CDC is monitoring weather information and sending out, for example, tornado safety rules. That is the job of the National Weather Service and of private sector weather companies like AccuWeather. And, "occupational safety" was the responsibility of OSHA.

More to the point, they don't do these other functions well. Here is my reply to the CDC tweeting incorrect information about tornadoes (they have since deleted their tweet) last week.
With the urgent threat of Ebola last week, CDC was tweeting incorrect information about tornadoes and Homeland Security was worried about global warming.

Mission creep is a serious problem in Washington, D.C. and it is deeply rooted in its culture. It needs to be stopped, now. The nation would be much better off if CDC focused on its vital mission of preventing disease and discontinued these other activities.


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