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Failure to Use Available Tools

Portland's lack of fluoridated water is not the only example of failure to make use of readily available tools to make human life better. Jane Brody describes widespread failure to use an available vaccine to defend against a virus that causes around 25,000 cancers in Americans per year (not to mention its production of genital warts):

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, about 14 million Americans become infected with HPV, most of them teenagers or young adults, and a cancer caused by HPV is diagnosed in an estimated 17,600 women and 9,300 men. ... But as of 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine....
- Jane Brody, The Underused HPV Vaccine, NYT, Aug. 22, 2016


Fortunately, economists had learned a lot from the experience of the Great Depression. In particular, they knew that fiscal austerity — slashing government spending in an attempt to balance the budget — is a really bad idea in a depressed economy.

Unfortunately, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic spent the first half of the 2010s doing exactly what both theory and history told them not to do. And this wrong turn on policy cast a long shadow, economically and politically. In particular, the deficit obsession of 2010-2015 helped set the stage for the current crisis of democracy.
- Paul Krugman, The Legacy of Destructive Austerity, NYT, Dec. 30, 2019


According to the indictment, the Chinese military exploited a vulnerability in Apache Struts software, which Equifax used. As soon as Apache disclosed the vulnerability, it offered a patch to prevent breaches. Equifax’s security team, according to the indictment, didn’t employ the patch, leaving the drawbridge down for People’s Liberation Army attackers. From there, the hackers gained access to Equifax’s web servers and ultimately got a hold of employee credentials. ...
According to a 2019 class-action lawsuit, the company’s cybersecurity practices were a nightmare. The suit alleged that “sensitive personal information relating to hundreds of millions of Americans was not encrypted, but instead was stored in plain text” and “was accessible through a public-facing, widely used website.” Another example of the company’s weak safeguards, according to the suit, shows the company struggling to use a competent password system. “Equifax employed the username ‘admin’ and the password ‘admin’ to protect a portal used to manage credit disputes,” it read.
- Charlie Warzel, Chinese Hacking Is Alarming. So Are Data Brokers., NYT, Feb. 10, 2020


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