January 2011 Archives

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The Subsidy of America is Coming to an End

By Michael Fumento

Two items on the front page of yesterday's Washington Post: "Record U.S. Deficit Projected this Year" and "Two lawmakers from Michigan propose billions in incentives for buyers of electric cars." What's wrong with this picture? That's the problem. We don't see anything wrong with this picture. We want it all. But we can't have it all.

Some people think electric cars are nice, because the pollution they generate is off-site. But as Charles Lane, a liberal, writes: "If the cars were cheaper than gas-power cars of equal performance," that would be one thing. "But electrics are substantially more expensive than cars of greater quality." So we have to heavily subsidize them to get them out the door.

On the other hand, gasoline-powered car owners are forced to use ethanol. That's a subsidy to the everyone involved in the ethanol industry, and again it has to be subsidized because it's inferior to gasoline. It cuts your mileage and does essentially nothing to reduce pollution. You just can't go around subsidizing everything.

Behold a pale rider.

True enough, the main problem is entitlements. Which, not incidentally, are subsidies. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid already absorb 40% of the budget and grow inexorably without anybody casting a single vote to increase them. Left untouched, they will destroy the country. But earmarks are readily controllable and yet still uncontrolled.

Our nation has a spending addiction. And our politicians don't have the guts to tell the public that no, we can't have it all. And so we will continue to borrow and the Fed will continue to print money. In other words, subsidize the government so it can subsidize special interests.

But as Peter Orzag, Obama's former budget director, writes in the Financial Times, "International investors would be wise to pay close attention to fiscal trends within the U.S." Don't worry, they already are. And at some point, although it will be very costly to them, they will get nervous enough to stop subsiding our subsiding.

Orzag adds, "I hope it does not ultimately require a crisis to restore fiscal sustainability at the federal level, but I fear it will." Indeed, it will. At some point, some point soon, it will all come crashing down.

Watch.

January 28, 2011 12:09 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Economy ~ Environment ~ Government

Civility Project Shuts Down for Lack of Interest

By Michael Fumento

The Civility Project is no more and never was, as you can read here and here.

"The worst e-mails I received about the civility project were from conservatives with just unbelievable language about communists, and some words I wouldn't use in this phone call," Civility Project head Mark Demoss said.

"This political divide has become so sharp that everything is black and white, and too many conservatives can see no redeeming value in any liberal or Democrat. That would probably be true about some liberals going the other direction, but I didn't hear from them."

Mr. DeMoss said he was not convinced that there is a link between vicious political attacks and violent acts, but he added, "Whether or not there's violence, whether or not incivility today is worse than it's been in history, it's all immaterial. It's worse than it ought to be."

Comment:

We are experiencing a mass hysteria of political hatred and anger. Both are common to mass hysterias in that they stimulate the lower brain. Ultimately, you no longer see humans as humans.

Thus you can slaughter whole groups of people, even fact to face, just because they are DIFFERENT. Different nationality, different religion, different ethnic background, different wealth status. It doesn't really matter. You find something YOU believe is different enough to dehumanize them.

And there are always the rabble rousers. You know their names. I used to be friends with some of them. Whether they actually believe the awful things they say is irrelevant. It's good for their egos and pocketbooks and the damage is the same.

Slaughter is the worst, but there are lesser grades of harm that usually come first. And, in this case, hopefully not at all. But this isn't just a short-lived fad anymore than is the hatred and fear of intellectuals and the triumph of mediocrity.

It's yet another sign of a once-great nation in decline. The America we grew up in is no more. If it still looks like it is, you're prey to wishful thinking.

January 17, 2011 01:28 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Ponderings

Autism Doctor a Fraud, But Hardly Alone

By Michael Fumento

"A deliberate fraud." That's what the British Medical Journal, one of the world's most prestigious periodicals, has written of the study that kicked off the current anti-vaccine movement. It's "clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," it said in a heavily documented editorial.

The lead author of that anti-vaccine study, which also appeared in one most respected medical journals, The Lancet, was British physician Andrew Wakefield. And its consequences, as I write in AOL News, include millions of terrified and confused parents, large drops in vaccination rates and death.

This is the face of pertussis.

Many people, including me, have spent years puncturing his claims and those of his acolytes in the anti-vaccine movement. But a media that thrives on sensationalism instead played up the phony link.

Yet while this "deliberate fraud" has been exposed, others continue to go unchallenged, or worse, get trumpeted by reporters who should know better.

Last year the World Health Organization, having exaggerated the world AIDS problem by 12-fold, then hyped SARS and then spent four years terrifying us over avian flu (remember avian flu?), converted the mildest flu strain in decades (swine flu H1N1) into the first flu pandemic in 41 years simply by rewriting the flu pandemic definition. Aiding it was a study in Science magazine that completely misrepresented the citations it used as authority.

Likewise, San Francisco last year became the first jurisdiction in the country to put warning labels on cell phones, influenced in great part by a series of studies published in peer-reviewed journals alleging they cause brain tumors. Yet as I wrote in a CEI paper, "Celling Fear," they're all by a single environmental activist and totally fly in the face of the main body of research. Plus the city relied on an Environmental Working Group paper that used citations saying exactly the opposite of what the report claimed.

Why does fraudulent science thrive? Better to ask, "Why not?" It pays.

Even when the fraudsters get caught, they often laugh all the way to the bank. Wakefield gets more than $300,000 a year in salary alone from an anti-vaccine group.

Why! That's even more than I got for writing that article for AOL News!

January 10, 2011 03:11 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer) ~ Hysteria ~ Vaccines