The Cost of Good Health (USA)

A couple of times a year I go all Network and think “I’m madder than hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. We all know something has to change, Right? But than nothing changes, except things seem to just get worse. A few more months go by and I get mad again.

We all know what the problem is – politicians – and I don’t mean Progressive Democrats or Conservative Republicans. I mean all of them!

Here’s things I found out with just a little research:

In 1977 Bill Clinton had the only job in his entire life outside of politics. He made $12,500 a year as an associate professor at the University of Arkansas. Hell, most of us made more than that. By 1979 Bill got into politics and he and his wife made a ton of money. Today Bill and Hillary are worth about 289 million dollars.

At the time of his death in 1994 Richard Nixon had a net worth of 5.7 million dollars. Before he joined the Eisenhower ticket his Senate income was $12,000* and his legal residence was in an average, middle class neighborhood in Alexandria just across the river from Washington.

At the time Nixon appointed Jerry Ford his Vice-President, Ford also lived in an average middle class neighborhood in Alexandria.

At the time Lyndon Johnson ran for Congress in 1938 he had been a school teacher, a congressional aide and a Texas bureaucrat. His salary as a Congressman was $10,000** The Johnsons built their fortune by buying a financial disaster radio station in Texas that was loosing money because expansion was hampered by the FCC. Shortly after his wife bought the station Lyndon used his political clout to get serious help from the FCC and also got a hard to get franchise from CBS.Their estate was worth 20 million dollars in 2007.

Over the past fifty years it appears that the political class has been more concerned with being paid, by any number of means, primarily because of their jobs. The best way to get re-elected is to actually avoid finding solutions to America’s problems (the powerful and connected prefer the status quo).

Over the past twenty five years – what are the biggest problems facing America’s future?

Social Security
Congress has NOT been wrestling with solving the problem of Social Security going broke for a few decades. Here’s a fact; if you remove the earning cap so every dollar of wages and earned income pays SS and raise the retirement age by two years gradually over 5 years, the problem is solved for as far as you can project.

Health Care for Americans
Adjusted for inflation, our current cost of medical insurance and healthcare is the most expensive in history. Over one third of all Americans receive most of their health care at government expense and over half still get insurance through their employers (even though that is costing 87% more than 10 years ago). The number of uninsured has gone down by 77% in ten years while the number of underinsured has gone up by 158%***.

Every political faction has a strong position about the costs and ways of providing health care to Americans and nobody can reach an agreed solution. What they do however, is change the rules regularly, often making health care for Americans more expensive in the process. Here are the best current facts available at the end of 2018:

The country had an estimated population of 329,000,000 Americans with 19 out of every 50 Americans receiving a significant amount of their health care at government expense. They include Medicare, Medicaid, Military, both active and retired with dependents, along with Veterans in the VA system. Americans spent $810,500,000,000 for health insurance through private insurance companies either with their employment, individually or in Medicare supplemental insurance. They paid out-of-pocket another $89,964,000,000 directly for healthcare as deductible costs or outright payments.

The government actually disbursed $2,132,000,000,000 for medical care either through Medicaid, Medicare, ACA premium subsidies, the VA and the military health system plus Tri-Care (the military health insurance contract) payments. In the same year the U.S. Government took in $177,912,192,000 specifically for health care in required Medicare recipient premiums and payroll tax deductions. That means that the government takes in only 8.4% of what it spends earmarked for American healthcare. In what world does that math make sense?

If you do the math you will see that this shows $2,985,401,192,000 in total American medical costs with some estimates as high as $3,500,000,000,000 or $4,200,000,000,000. It also indicates that the Federal government is already paying between half and two thirds of all American’s medical costs.

For an additional $5,000 each for every remaining American, you will cover 100% of every American’s medical costs. That is half the total American average per person cost of medical care and significantly less than the average privately insured American currently pays for insurance and healthcare.

If you think this doesn’t add up – that’s the whole point.

When politicians claim we cannot afford to give everyone universal healthcare are they aware that we already supply it to well over 1/3 of Americans?

When they claim that universal government healthcare will save money through efficiency are they aware that currently government cost for healthcare is almost 50% more per person than what private insurance and care costs, including out-of-pocket?

When politicians claim that we can’t afford to give everyone Medicare, are they aware that:
1. Medicare recipients pay monthly premiums?
2. Medicare has a co-pay requirement?
3. Medicare has a supplemental private insurance option?
4. That some Medicare supplemental private insurance has no associated fees?
5. That the most expensive age category for health care in America is people over 65?

Additionally, why does 21% of the population on Medicaid cost 577 billion dollars while 14% on Medicare (with a co-pay) cost the government 700 billion dollars?

* $12,000 in 1953 if adjusted for inflation would be $103,000 today. In 2018 a Senators salary was $174,000
** Adjusting for inflation $122,000 in 2018
*** Calculated on the base cost of insurance and the amount of out-of-pocket expenses as a relationship to household income.

Note: This information was gathered from dozens and dozens of sources. Often you will find a wide disagreement on actual numbers. For instance, the range for total American healthcare costs goes from 3.21 trillion dollars to 4.3 trillion dollars. By adding up all healthcare payouts I could identify, I came up with under 3 trillion dollars ($2,985,401,192,000). Some numbers are easy to find as the Social Security Administration provides detailed accounting annually while others are almost impossible, like insurance companies payouts, but one has to include that those payouts do not exceed total premium income.

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A Veneer of Legitimate Science Crafted To Advance Questionable Claims

A Veneer of Legitimate Science Crafted To Advance Questionable Claims

I was doing research on the effect of a chemical being broadly used in industry for an article, when I stumbled on an online piece at CNN.com. The piece was titled “A Study estimates 15,000 cancer cases could stem from chemicals in California tap water” reported by Nadia Kounang, CNN in an Update @ 9:23 AM ET, Tue April 30, 2019. (Why was it necessary to update this article?)

I do a fair amount of work that involves scientific journals and I have a background in statistics and this piece struck me as odd. Upon reading the article it noted that Californians could see an increase in cancers state wide of 15,000 through the period of a lifetime(??). It bothered me because in a state with a population of 45,000,000 over a period of roughly 75 years the incidence is basically insignificant and falls below any threshold of even a research project with careful controls.

The piece was purportedly from researchers at the advocacy group Environmental Working Group out of Washington D.C. and was published in the journal Environmental Health. The first difficulty I had was locating the publication and the article. Eventually I located the journal which was one of supposedly two to three hundred scientific journals published by BMC a part of Springer Nature. Their mission from the website states they are

A pioneer of open access publishing, BMC has an evolving portfolio of high quality peer-reviewed journals including broad interest titles such as BMC Biology and BMC Medicine, specialist journals such as Malaria Journal and Microbiome, and the BMC Series.

The article in question was published in April 2019 and was an attempt to apply methods used in air quality and risks to drinking water. The paper is reasonably short and includes the two following statements.

“Cumulative risk assessment for drinking water has lagged behind similar methodologies already standard in air quality evaluations. In our estimate, the slow adoption of cumulative methods in drinking water assessments is at least partly due to the variety of health outcomes caused by drinking water contaminants. While acknowledging the scientific challenges of assessing the impacts of co-occurring chemicals on multiple body systems, we believe that the drinking water field can start with the application of existing cumulative risk methodologies established for air quality.”

“The EPA’s technical support materials for the National Air Toxics Assessment note that the true value of the cumulative risk is not known and that the actual risks could be lower than predicted [2]. “

So it seems they are applying air quality evaluation standards to water while admitting that cumulative substances in air cannot be evaluated for health risks?

What they did come up with is one hell of a headline and a remarkable amount of media coverage. It seems they got mentioned in The Washington Post and The New York Times and probably a number of other news outlets.

In browsing other of BMC’s “scientific” journals I found a number of other shocking headlines with one particular organization repeatedly getting published. It was the Ramazzini Institute of Italy. It seems they have announced findings like “Splenda Causes Cancer”, “Cellphone radiation Causes Brain Tumors”, “New Results On Glyphosate Danger” It seems that The Ramazzini Institute research is widely distrusted by the Food and Drug Administration, the European Food Safety Authority, and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as a virtual who’s who of modern science.

I am saddened by this afternoon’s walk through borderline research, questionable institutions and scientific publications. They seem to form a large network of radical organizations, lobbying groups, litigation law firms and pseudo scientific institutes that have been financed by millions in donations, litigation proceeds and well-intentioned private and government grants. They now represent a vicious conspiracy that plants misleading information in the media to stir up public fears and gain support. They use the fruits of this misrepresentation to legally attack businesses and win or extort hundreds of millions of dollars from business while at the same time making a number of participants rich.

I have always been puzzled by why bad scientific arguments seem to prevail in areas from breast implants, to talcum powder, to Roundup but I am beginning to get the picture.

Selective Blank Slatism

Bo Winegard & Cory Clark

Published on May 3, 2019 

Selective Blank Slatism and Ideologically Motivated Misunderstandings

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. ~John B. Watson

Blank slatism is the view, exemplified here with John B. Watson’s characteristic arrogance, that human nature is highly flexible and largely determined by environmental forces. Because almost all the available evidence suggests that blank slatism is incorrect, many scholars are puzzled that versions of this philosophy appear to remain popular in certain university departments and among the intelligentsia more broadly. Some critics of progressivism, such as the economist Thomas Sowell, have contended that political progressives are particularly likely to hold blank slate beliefs as a result of their tendency to attribute many social disparities to environmental and social causes and to de-emphasize genetic ones.

Others—usually those favorably inclined to progressivism, like the Guardian‘s Ed Rooksby—have argued that this is a misrepresentation, a lazy straw man argument, and that, properly understood, most progressives are not blank slatists at all. Rather, they are simply sensitive to the effects of social forces and injustices, and this sensitivity is often mischaracterized by ideological opponents as naive environmentalism. Many of these people argue that, in fact, progressives are more likely than conservatives to accept that genetics contribute to human behavior. After all, conservatives still appear reluctant to believe that sexuality is caused by genes or constrained by one’s nature. Rather, they believe it is a choice, an exercise of a person’s free will. Similarly, they are equally unlikely to attribute social failure to a person’s genes, but instead blame a person’s attitudes to work and commitment, contending that the destitute are often lazy and undisciplined.

Those who defend progressivism are partially correct; progressives aren’t blank slatists in general and indeed they appear more likely than conservatives to accept genetic causes for many human behaviors and life outcomes. However, progressives are selective or ideological blank slatists. That is, they generally accept that there is some kind of nature that constrains individuals. Richard Dawkins could never be Lebron James nor vice versa, no matter their respective diets, upbringings, or effort exerted.

However, they are selectively skeptical that an appeal to this nature (genetics) can explain certain kinds of differences between humans, between sexes, and among ethnic populations. Specifically, they are skeptical of genetic explanations if they appear to suggest that social inequalities are “natural” or caused by genetic differences between groups, and especially when those differences appear to favor the higher status group (for instance, that men are better than women at something on average because of genetic differences between men and women).

The notion that progressives are selective blank slatists is congruent with theory, observational evidence, and systematic survey evidence.

Selective Blank Slatism: Theory and Evidence

One of the chief psychological differences between conservatives and progressives is that progressives are more averse to inequality. Both, of course, see disparities in the world—they see that a professor has more status than a construction worker or that a lawyer makes more money than a social worker and so on. But progressives find these disparities more disconcerting.

Where such disparities exist, there are at least two possible explanations. The first is that genes have endowed certain individuals and groups with natures that lead to better life outcomes than others (for instance, some have higher intelligence, superior athletic ability, greater musical talent, exceptional beauty, and captivating charisma). The second is that all individuals and groups are born genetically equal in their capacities to develop desirable traits and abilities, but then these natural equalities are distorted by environmental and social forces, which thwart certain individuals and groups trying to achieve their full potential.

Those who particularly abhor inequality appear to prefer the latter explanation for two reasons. First, it suggests that groups and individuals are naturally equal. Second, it suggests that equality in life outcomes can be achieved in a genuinely free and meritocratic society. The pressing political project at hand, then, is to create such a society. Accepting the first explanation (that individuals and groups naturally differ) is morally unpleasant for progressives simply because it violates their preference for equality; but it is also unpleasant because it means that society can only make individuals and groups equal by violatingmeritocratic principles with interventionist policies that favor certain groups.

The view that most humans and all groups are basically equal is a kind of cosmic egalitarianism that suggests that the universe is just and fair, but that people are not. This view ineluctably leads to selective blank slatism because if humans are, in fact, naturally equal, then the only thing that could explain social disparities are environmental forces.

So, selective blank slatism is theoretically consistent with progressives’ psychological inclinations and preferences. It also conforms to informal inferences we can draw from what we see in the world. For example, when James Damore’s “Google memo” was released, progressives immediately assailed him, accusing him of perpetuating sexism in the tech industry. Despite how scurrilous many of the attacks on Damore were, his actual memo was a generally judicious and cautious document. He simply asserted that some of Google’s diversity policies were unfair and likely doomed to failure because they failed to consider biological (read, natural or genetically caused) differences between men and women.

The consternation and outrage the memo provoked among progressives is readily explicable if we accept that progressives are cosmic egalitarians. Women are under-represented in the tech industry and, because a cosmic egalitarian cannot countenance genetic differences between men and women, this disparity must necessarily be attributed to sexism. Furthermore, anyone who claims otherwise is wilfully defending an intolerable status quo.

We now have strong, systematic evidence that supports the theory and the informal observations that progressives are cosmic egalitarians and selective blank slatists. We collected survey data from 3,274 people. We first asked traditional demographic questions, including political ideology on a 7-point scale (from 1 = very conservative to 7 = very liberal), and then asked many questions about sex and ethnic differences and the causes of social disparities. For analytical purposes, we divided participants into extreme conservatives (those who answered 1 on political ideology), conservatives (answered 2-3), moderates (answered 4), liberals (answered 5-6), and progressives (answered 7). It’s important to note that our scale did not use the label “progressive.” The term is ours to describe extreme liberals. Overall, 488 participants, or roughly 15 percent, were progressives as we defined it. Although we asked a variety of questions, we will only report seven of the most directly germane here (curious readers can examine this, which reports all of the data).

First, consistent with selective blank slatism, progressives more than others reported that men and women have equal abilities on all tasks. (Questions were on a 7-point scale, from 1 = do not agree at all to 7 = agree completely.)

And they also reported that all ethnic groups have equal abilities on all tasks more than others.

Consistent with these answers, they also reported that differences between the sexes (and between ethnic groups) were more likely to be caused by discrimination than others did. (Notice that the question/statement claims that the only reason there are differences is because of sexism. A full 130 progressives, or 26 percent, endorsed this at 7, indicating that they agree completely.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predictably, they also reported more than other groups that people use science to justify existing inequalities. These findings are consistent with progressives’ response to the Damore Google memo. Progressives are likely to impute nefarious motives to anyone who asserts that men and women differ biologically—even when such assertions are supported by science.

Conclusion

Progressives do accept a genetically caused human nature; but, consistent with the claims of their critics, they accept this much less when it is ideologically inconvenient. In other words, progressives are selective or ideological blank slatists. They accept genetic explanations for things such as homosexuality, transsexuality, obesity, addiction, and a variety of mental illnesses, but not for sex or group differences, and especially not when those sex or group differences could explain (and thus potentially justify) existing inequalities between sexes and groups.

Our data, although limited, provide compelling support for the contention that progressives are selective blank slatists. Progressives agreed more strongly than any other ideological group with statements that convey blank slate attitudes about sex and ethnic differences (precisely the kind of blank slatism a priori theory would predict progressives would hold). Most supportive and perhaps most surprising, a full 26 percent of progressives fully endorsed the statement that “the only reason there are sex differences is because society is sexist,” which is, to put it mildly, a wildly implausible claim.

It should not surprise us that progressives have an ideologically saturated view of human nature. On all sides, concerns about human nature are intense and passionate because today’s competing ideologies are premised on different conceptions of human variation and its relation to the ideal social order. With so much at stake, few are capable of approaching the evidence with an open mind. Conservatives too, as noted in the introduction, are almost certainly selective blank slatists. They appear, for example, to be more skeptical that mental illnesses, drug addiction, and sexual orientation are caused by genetics. And although conservatives do appear to accept a more constrained view of humans than do progressives, they often argue that all (or almost all) people, if they just work hard, can succeed. Furthermore, they often blame social pathologies exclusively on cultural deficits and decadence.

So, it is unlikely that either the Left or the Right has a monopoly on bias; and it is unlikely that either is absolutely correct about human nature (although, it is possible that one is more correct than the other). If we begin to understand these biases and the errors into which they lead us, then we can begin to adjust for them. We can, as it were, correct our distorted vision with the spectacles of self-conscious and disciplined reflection. The first step might be to ask ourselves a simple question: How likely is it that what we want to be true of human nature is true of human nature? In other words, if all of the “facts” about humans conform to our desires then that is strong evidence not that we are lucky, but that we are wrong.

 

Bo Winegard is an essayist and an assistant professor at Marietta College. You can follow him on Twitter @EPoe187

Cory Clark is an assistant professor of psychology at Durham university who studies moral psychology and free will. You can follow her on Twitter @ImHardcory

FREE SPEECH AND AN OPEN SOCIETY

Oh What Are We Creating? (or Permitting)

quote-don-t-you-see-that-the-whole-aim-of-newspeak-is-to-narrow-the-range-of-thought-in-the-george-orwell-40-99-07         When I was in school I was taught that there is no greater freedom than the freedom to express one’s self. That the real defense against ignorant and offensive speech wasn’t to ban it but to bring it into the light and defeat it with an educated counter argument. That does not seem to be the current thinking.

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.” Benjamin Franklin

The ACLU once took a controversial stand for free speech by defending a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie , where a large number of Holocaust survivors lived. The notoriety of the case caused some ACLU members to resign, but to many others the case has come to represent the ACLU’s unwavering commitment to the American principle of free speech.

Although this case was summarily decided on procedural grounds, the necessary implication of the Supreme Court’s 1977 NSPA (National Socialist Party of America) 5-4 decision is that a group’s request to engage in a parade or demonstration involving public display of the Nazi swastika is a symbolic form of free speech that is presumptively entitled to First Amendment protections.

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words (allowed) in which to express it.” George Orwell 1949

A quotation often cited to describe the foundational principle of freedom of speech.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall (which is often misattributed to Voltaire himself)

A recent article from my favorite college professor

WILLIAMS: Fruits Of College Indoctrination

Much of today’s incivility and contempt for personal liberty has its roots on college campuses, and most of the uncivil and contemptuous are people with college backgrounds. Let’s look at a few highly publicized recent examples of incivility and attacks on free speech.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were accosted and harassed by a deranged left-wing mob as they were leaving a dinner at Georgetown University. Sen. McConnell was harassed by protesters at Reagan National Airport, as well as at several venues in Kentucky. Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife were harassed at a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Afterward, a group called Smash Racism DC wrote: “No — you can’t eat in peace — your politics are an attack on all of us. You’re (sic) votes are a death wish. Your votes are hate crimes.” Other members of Congress — such as Andy Harris, Susan Collins and Rand Paul — have been physically attacked or harassed by leftists. Most recent is the case of Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson. A leftist group showed up at his house at night, damaging his front door and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!” “Racist scumbag, leave town!”

Mayhem against people with different points of view is excused as just deserts for what is seen as hate speech. Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray discovered this when he was shouted down at Middlebury College and the professor escorting him was sent to the hospital with injuries. Students at the University of California, Berkeley shut down a controversial speaker and caused riot damage estimated at $100,000. Protesters at both UCLA and Claremont McKenna College disrupted scheduled lectures by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has discovered so-called bias response teams on hundreds of American college campuses. Bias response teams report to campus officials — and sometimes to law enforcement officers — speech that may cause “alarm, anger, or fear” or that might otherwise offend. Drawing pictures or cartoons that belittle people because of their beliefs or political affiliation can be reported as hate speech. Universities expressly set their sights on prohibiting constitutionally protected speech. As FIRE reported in 2017, hundreds of universities nationwide now maintain Orwellian systems that ask students to report — often anonymously — their neighbors, friends and professors for any instances of supposed biased speech and expression.

A recent Brookings Institution poll found that nearly half of college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. That’s nonsense; it is. Fifty-one percent of college students think they have a right to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. Nineteen percent of students think that it’s acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. Over 50 percent agree that colleges should prohibit speech and viewpoints that might offend certain people. One shouldn’t be surprised at all if these visions are taught and held by many of their professors. Colleges once taught and promoted an understanding of Western culture. Today many professors and the college bureaucracy teach students that they’re victims of Western culture and values.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech.” Much later, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” From the Nazis to Stalinists to Maoists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, just as American leftists did during the 1960s. Their support for free speech is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. The right to say what they please is their tool for indoctrination, propagandizing and proselytization. Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses. Much of the off-campus incivility we see today is the fruit of what a college education has done to our youth.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Second-Hand Smoke Again?

From the “sometimes the fraud is so obvious only really smart people can’t see it” department.

The EPA Particulate Matter studies greatly exaggerated the health risks of exposure to PM 2.5 (Particulate Matter as small as 2.5 microns) to justify proposed regulations to control second-hand smoke.

Sugar-punchlineA new study indicates you can smoke (each cigarette is a massive PM2.5 exposure) until you are age 35, quit, and then by age 50 statistically have normal life expectancy — despite inhaling over 4 pounds of PM2.5 as a smoker. For comparison, a non-smoker inhales about 2 ounces of PM2.5 over the course of an 80-year lifespan.

The Educators New Clothes

MY CRITICAL ‘CRITICAL THEORY’ THEORY

Everyone is buzzing today about the revelation of the three academics—James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossianwho placed over a dozen complete hoax articles with various premier “cultural studies” or “identity studies” academic journals. All three professors, it should be noted, consider themselves left of center, as does Alan Sokal, the New York University physicist who placed a hoax article about the supposed subjectivity of physics in the postmodernist journal Social Text 20 years ago. (Yet somehow Social Text stayed in business instead of closing down in embarrassment, as they should have.)

You can read a good summary of the story in the Wall Street Journal today. If you’re not a subscriber, here are a couple of highlights from Jillian Kay Melchior’s fine report:

Beginning in August 2017, the trio wrote 20 hoax papers, submitting them to peer-reviewed journals under a variety of pseudonyms, as well as the name of their friend Richard Baldwin, a professor emeritus at Florida’s Gulf Coast State College. Mr. Baldwin confirms he gave them permission use his name. Journals accepted seven hoax papers. Four have been published.

There’s also an excellent Twitter thread about it from Yascha Mounk of Harvard (another liberal) worth reading.

And the three authors explain the whole effort in an article out yesterday entitled “Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship.” It’s very much worth reading the whole thing, but here is the lede:

Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem.

This part is also especially fun:

Part III: Why Did We Do This? 

Because we’re racist, sexist, bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, transhysterical, anthropocentric, problematic, privileged, bullying, far right-wing, cishetero straight white males (and one white female who was demonstrating her internalized misogyny and overwhelming need for male approval) who wanted to enable bigotry, preserve our privilege, and take the side of hate?

No. None of those apply. Nevertheless, we’ll be accused of it, and we have some insights into why.

And here’s my favorite example:

Another tough one for us was, “I wonder if they’d publish a feminist rewrite of a chapter from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” The answer to that question also turns out to be “yes,” given that the feminist social work journal Affilia has just accepted it. As we progressed, we started to realize that just about anything can be made to work, so long as it falls within the moral orthodoxy and demonstrates understanding of the existing literature.

The article was entitled “Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism,” byMaria Gonzalez, Ph.D., and Lisa A. Jones, Ph.D., of the Feminist Activist Collective for Truth (FACT). Both the authors and the institution (FACT) are fictional. No one at Affilia noticed or bothered to check.

You may be thinking this is just the academic version of the Emperor’s New Clothes. And you’d be right. But here’s the thing that no one has quite figured out. Having been immersed in a couple of big universities lately, I can tell you that if you get a couple of drinks, or a shot of truth serum, into the average liberal professor in any traditional academic social science department, and some of the humanities, he will confess that he knows the “scholarship” of the various politicized identity politics programs are a farce. They do not take it seriously, and regard it all with benign neglect at best, but silent contempt most of the time. In other words, most faculty regard their identity politics colleagues in the same manner you regard a precious child you pat on the head for encouragement. Most of the radicalized faculty in these politicized departments know this, and it fuels their righteous anger and feeds their self-imposed sense of oppression.

Why aren’t more mainstream academic liberals speaking out and objecting to this farcical “scholarship” in the fashion of Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian? The chief reason is that there is no upside to trying to oppose this nonsense, as you’ll be called a racist/bigot, etc., and maybe even face a harassment complaint from the administrative bureaucracies that universities have set up and allowed to be infiltrated by identity politics dogma.  And since academic departments are by tradition entirely self-governing in hiring and promotion decisions, there is no way for senior scholars in, say, political science, to curtail the nonsense scholarship.

The only way this problem will be fixed is for administrators—deans, provosts, presidents, academic councils—to say Enough!, and actually cut back some of these tendentious departments, or at least put out notice that publication in just about any Sage journal will not be recognized by the university. I’m not going to hold my breath.

Meanwhile, here’s a short fragment from a documentary in progress featuring Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian:

P.S. Also worth taking this roundup of reaction to this story on Quillette.

Science and Government for Our Own Good?

We Have Been Manipulated and We are Paying for It

From condo boards to Capital Hill we are generally managed by a group of people that consider themselves our benefactors. More often than not these people consider themselves highly intelligent and posses the conviction that everyone would be happier, healthier and generally much better off if they would follow their rules and recommendations. Another characteristic of these leaders is that they seem to gravitate towards academics or politics. Over decades the relationship between like-minded academics and politicians has reinforced the notion that they are capable to find fundamental solutions to most of our problems.

One example of this marriage is seen in government official concern about the American diet and its effect on the “nations health”. While we ask what business does the mayor, or the statehouse or Washington have in trying to tell any of us what we should eat, we need to understand what actions they have taken in controlling our choices over the years and the consequences of those actions.

The truth is that our political class have often decided that they and their educated advisors are much smarter than average citizens and have acted hundreds of times over the past number of decades to control our lives in regard to our eating requirements.

In addition to instituting policies designed to improve our eating habits they have also managed (manipulated) the system that produces our food for any number of other “worthy” purposes.

At the end of World War I, the destructive effects of the war bankrupted much of Europe, closing major export markets for the United States and beginning a series of events that would lead to the development of agricultural price and income support policies. United States price and income support, known otherwise as agricultural subsidy, grew out of a serious farm income and financial crises, which was understood to jeopardize the future ability of American agriculture to meet the food needs of the American people. This led to widespread political belief that the free market system was not adequately rewarding farm people for their agricultural commodities.

Beginning with the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act and 1922 Capper-Volstead Act, which regulated livestock and protected farmer cooperatives against anti-trust suits, United States agricultural policy began to become more and more sweeping in its scope. In reaction to falling grain prices and the widespread economic turmoil of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, three bills established to price subsidies for farmers in the United States: the 1922 Grain Futures Act, the 1929 Agricultural Marketing Act, and finally the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act.

Out of these bills grew a system of government-controlled agricultural commodity prices and government supply control (farmers being paid to leave land unused). Supply control would continue to be used to decrease overproduction, leading to over 50,000,000 acres to be set aside during times of low commodity prices (1955–1973, 1984–1995). The practice wasn’t curtailed until the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. While the reform act of 1996 was supposed to be a first step towards returning the agricultural economy to free enterprise it left in place hundreds of specific supports and direct programs for farmers so that the result was at best only a series of half measures. Even this reform act was a victim of the power of special interest lobbies over the general welfare of the public. Sugar is a classic example of how this system corrupts the political process.

SUGAR

In 1981 the U.S. government passed laws and implemented policies that were designed to support the price of domestically produced sugar (beet and cane) by using tariffs and purchase programs.

In 2001 sugar imported into the U.S. outside of the Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ) paid a duty of over 15¢ per pound. At that time world sugar prices were averaging 7¢ per pound while U.S. sugar was selling at 22¢ per pound.

The cost in tax dollars flowing to support the sugar industry has been as high as $1.4 million per month in 2000 just for storage of surplus sugar alone with an overall estimated $200,000,000 per year currently in direct purchase costs.

One private U.S. company, US Sugar of Clewiston, Florida produces over 18% of all U.S. sugar and this government policy has made Clewiston one of the wealthiest per capita towns in the country.

In 1996, an agriculture reform bill year, sugar companies paid directly and indirectly $13 million to the 49 members of the House Agriculture Committee and remarkably, seemed to have managed to leave sugar price supports exactly as they were.

In a claimed effort to protect an economic segment that probably employs under 17,000 total (with estimated job losses more like 3 – 4,000 should price supports be removed) the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions and caused the American people to suffer multiple negative unintended consequences.

As a result of this sugar policy food companies have switched from refined sugar to fructose in the manufacture of most processed foods. In addition to processed foods virtually all U.S. soft drinks and a majority of juices are now formulated with high fructose corn syrup. This has been done for one very simple reason… cost.

While there is an ongoing debate about many health problems associated with fructose versus sugar there are troubling indications in some areas. Results published… by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior in 2010, by researchers from the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute reported on two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and obesity. Using lab animal experiments the results found a high correlation between HFCS and obesity that was not found in a diet using equal amounts of table sugar.

In 2002 The Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration issued an official report on the sugar laws impact on the confection industry in the U.S. which characterized the results as follows:

  1. Employment in sugar containing products (SCPs) industries decreased by more than 10,000 jobs between 1997 and 2002 according to the Bureau of Labor

Statistics.

  1. For each one sugar growing and harvesting job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, nearly three confectionery manufacturing jobs are lost.
  2. For the confectionery industry in particular, evidence suggests that sugar costs are a major factor in relocation decisions because high U.S. sugar prices represent a larger share of total production costs than labor.   In 2004, the price of U.S refined sugar was 23.5 cents per pound compared to the world price at 10.9 cents.
  3. Many U.S. SCP manufacturers have closed or relocated to Canada where sugar prices are less than half of U.S. prices and to Mexico where sugar prices are about two-thirds of U.S. prices.
  4. Imports of SCPs have grown rapidly from $6.7 billion in 1990, to $10.2 billion in 1997, up to an estimated $18.7 billion in 2004 based on 2002 trends.

 

The fundamental problem with price supports is that no matter how justified at some point, as with most laws and government programs, they live on way past their usefulness.

 

Want to understand why Americans are getting fat? Look at the unintended consequence of trying to protect sugar growing jobs.

 

Another area where the anointed have taken action to protect us from ourselves is government direct intervention in controlling the American diet. While the changes worked on the American diet are significant there is also the quantity of our money (taxes) expended in the task to consider.

 

FAT, SALT AND OTHER BAD THINGS

 

It seems to be almost impossible to keep up with dietary research into what things in our diet are good for us and those that are bad. Salt is bad (recent research has now reversed that), eggs are bad (it seems eggs switch back and forth regularly), trans-fatty acids are bad (they were originally introduced as a healthy substitute for animal fat in our diet). For almost sixty years the recommendations regarding a healthy diet have emphasized that animal fat is a major contributor to coronary disease.

 

As a recent article in the New York Times notes “The new findings are part of a growing body of research that has challenged the accepted wisdom that saturated fat is inherently bad for you and will continue the debate about what foods are best to eat.

 

For decades, health officials have urged the public to avoid saturated fat as much as possible, saying it should be replaced with the unsaturated fats in foods like nuts, fish, seeds and vegetable oils.

 

But the new research, published on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, did not find that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had more heart disease than those who ate less”.

 

Since the 1960’s we have been pressured by our government and academics to avoid consuming fat in our diet. And while some will argue that the American people have not taken this government advice seriously the facts actually tell a very different story. So why did they urge this and what have been the results?

 

Historically, in the late 1930’s medical professionals began to notice an alarming increase in coronary disease. It was first made public in 1938 with an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. By the 1950’s it was declared an epidemic.

 

Along comes Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota with the explanation. His research pointed to high dietary fat as the culprit. He published a seven-country study “proving” that the level of coronary disease was a result of the fat content of various national diets. Other researchers and government officials embraced the findings and it didn’t hurt that he was a charismatic person with solid academic credentials. From that point on funding and emphasis in additional research, dietary recommendations and government policy changed.

 

The government so embraced his findings that within a decade whole new departments were created to inform and help the public make healthy eating choices. There were departments to educate, others to provide packaging requirements so the public could better identify what they were eating, and others to do research on better nutrition.

 

In 2013 there was an $8.7 million budget just for the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion within the Department of Agriculture. While the politicians are always quick to point out the need for the USDA to protect our food supply, inspection is actually one of the smallest parts of their budget. Consider 2010’s expenditures:

 

USDA 2010 budget (partial)

Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services $25 billion (not subsidies)

Food Safety $1 billion

Research, Education, and Economics $2.89 billion

Marketing and Regulatory Programs $2.75 billion

Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services $97.95 billion*

  • (includes Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children [$7 billion] and food stamps [$41.2 billion]). What is the remaining $47.5 billion used for?

That is $78.64 billion in non-food expenses at the USDA which represents the total average annual tax collected from over 17 million Americans

 

At the governments urging, butter was replaced by margarine, lard by vegetable shortening (Crisco which was a major funder of the American Heart Association) and other vegetable oils, and most importantly of all, eggs, cheese, and meat were replaced to a great extent by pasta and grain. The result of this is the actual American diet switched from animal fat to vegetable oil, from beef and pork to poultry along with a twenty-five percent increase in carbohydrates in the average American’s diet since the early 1970s.

 

Dr. Keys sealed the saturated fat argument in 1961 by taking a position on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, whose dietary guidelines are considered the definitive statement on the issue.

 

What were some of the results in this government led diet change in America? Increased consumption of carbohydrates could be one of the most significant negative changes. One of the problems is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin, which is a hormone that is extremely efficient at helping the body at storing fat. If carbohydrates weren’t enough, early on, clinical studies showed diets high in vegetable oil resulted in higher rates of cancer and gallstones.

 

In probability and statistics there is an adage that correlation is not causation. What that means is that without controls and consideration of multiple variable factors there cannot be high trust, let alone certainty, in the statistical results. Also it has become common for nontechnical people (media, government) to misunderstand study results as significant when the statistics actually conclude that the data is not outside of normal variation and probability. Oddly, in recent years an alarming number of researchers do not seem to attempt to correct the reporting when the media seriously misstates the nature of the research results, while in the past it was common. Perhaps they do not think that it is their job to educate anyone in probability and statistical hypothesis testing but the result is usually the uneducated media and politicians overstating the significance of the results.

 

During all this nobody thought to question the type of diet Americans had at the turn of the nineteenth century and before and what negative health results it should have produced. While there doesn’t seem to be much research to document the character of that historical diet it is highly unlikely that the American diet at that time was lower in fat or salt than the diet in the first third of the twentieth century. Butter, bacon, beef, biscuits, fatback, lard were all staples of most nineteenth century American’s diet. The Southern diet as recently as the mid twentieth century was characterized as a heart attack waiting to happen. With that history why did fat suddenly become the primary suspect in the cause of coronary disease?

 

What is now emerging is the very real possibility that Americans have born the high cost of a misguided information campaign sponsored by our elected officials and their bureaucrats. This cost was not just in tax dollars wasted but in the negative impact on Americans health. And now our government is very concerned with our diet and the obesity problem that they are partly responsible for creating.

 

In attempting to defend the government position an argument has been put forward that the crises was real and existed long before it was recognized and became apparent only after medical procedures improved for identifying heart attacks in the twentieth century. While death certificates may have missed actual causes of death in those early years, examinations of specific and large institutions detailed autopsy records have put that argument to rest. It seems that there was a very real and dramatic increase in coronary disease from the 1930s to the 50s and beyond. The question seems to remain what the cause could be? If the American diet had not changed significantly in the early twentieth century what was causing the major increase in coronary disease?

 

Actually there have been a few papers that have offered a credible explanation with one being published as early as 1962. It seems that the smoking of tobacco while common was actually lightly used until the late nineteenth century. Around 1885 American companies began to manufacture and market machine made cigarettes. Public consumption went up dramatically from a pre-machine annual consumption of 40 per year to 40 per month by 1900 and 80 per week by 1925. Allowing a 20 to 30 year lag time for symptoms to occur and you have a credible model to explain the 1930s spike in heart problems and the continuing increases thru the 1950s.

 

What should be taken away from all this? One thing would be to question the wisdom of our political leaders in areas beyond the basic needs our government was originally intended to provide. There are a lot of research results and opinions of scientists that are proven to be wrong over time.

 

Another is to question the ever-growing influence of government funds in scientific research. It seems that our political leaders have developed a preference for funding scientists whose research leans in the direction of confirming popular and already held beliefs. And the possibility that our lives might be better and healthier and more productive if government stopped being so concerned about protecting us from ourselves.