A couple of days ago, my hometown, Washington, D.C., announced a plan to force every single D.C. resident between the ages of 14 and 84 (yes you read that right: 84) to be tested for the AIDS virus, at the cost of God knows how much money. Oh, so what if AIDs in this country in confined to just a few subgroups: mainly gay men plus intravenous drug-users? The idea, I guess, is that if you make everyone take the test, even though the vast majority don’t need it, you won’t make the subgroups feel bad about themselves. This in a city that apparently can’t afford to pay janitors to keep its public schools clean–but let’s test Grandma for HIV!

That’s what I call the “universal preschool” model of setting up a social program. Preschool confers only marginal benefits on most young children (I sure never went), but it does some good for underclass kids, if only by getting them out of the house and away from their dysfunctional families for a few hours a day. So why not spend a bazillion dollars forcing every single child in the country to attend so those underclass children won’t feel bad?

Now, here’s the latest from an immunization panel affiliated with the National Centers for Disease Control: force every single little girl, female teenager, and young woman in the country to be vaccinated against cervical cancer–actually against sexually transmitted disease that can cause cancer.

Here’s the New York Times report:

“The vote all but commits the federal government to spend as much as $2 billion alone on a program to buy the vaccine for the nation’s poorest girls from 11 to 18.

“The vaccine, Gardasil, protects against cancer and genital warts by preventing infection from four strains of the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease, according to federal health officials. The virus is also a cause of other cancers in women.”

If you think 11 sounds young for sex, how about age 9–the recommended age in some cases?

But there are a few hitches–such as parents who, uh, balk at the idea of telling prepubescent girls that it’s just fine for them to have all the sex they want, ‘cuz now they’ll be vaccinated! And isn’t it against the law to have sex with children? As the Times concedes:

“But Gardasil’s benefits could be blunted by a complex brew of practical, economic and religious considerations. On the practical side, Gardasil is supposed to be given as three shots over six months. While pediatricians and government health agencies have long been successful in having parents adhere to complex vaccination schedules for infants, older children are more difficult to manage.

“Another challenge is Gardasil’s price. At $360 for the three-shot regimen, it is among the most expensive vaccines ever. Because cervical cancer is mostly a disease of poverty, those in most need of the vaccine will be the least able to afford it. State vaccination programs, already under financial strain, may refuse to provide it.”

I hope they do refuse. How about telling young teen-agers instead that sexual promiscuity is not only a bad idea but actually dangerous to their health?