March of Dimes

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In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.
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March of flowers
March of dimes
These are the prisons
These are the crimes
Sound of thunder
Sound of gold
Sound of the Devil
Breaking parole —

—David Bowie, Ricochet (1983)

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, was — and is — a U.S. charity, originally set up at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s prompting, to combat polio.[1]

After funding Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, which basically eradicated polio in 1952, the organisation “expanded its focus” — pivoted, as they say — to address the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality generally, rather than for polio specifically, since polio in itself turned out not to be the enduring problem.

This is all good news, of course — but, as John Gall observes[2] it serves as a prescient and salutary reminder that power structures established for a one purpose, which meet it, do not fold up their tents and go away. Power structures tend to have lives, and survival instincts, that transcend their earthly purpose.

See also


  1. Entertainer Eddie Cantor invented the title “The March of Dimes” for the donation campaign in 1938 — it was a play on “The March of Time” newsreels popular at the time. The radio campaign asked listeners to “mail a dime” to Roosevelt, a well known polio sufferer.
  2. Systemantics: The Systems Bible