It's been big news lately that childhood diseases thought to be near eradication are making a comeback due to failure of many parents to get their kids vaccinated. For example, here is an article from Time today reporting that the number of recent measles cases is up to 154. (If you're my age, 154 doesn't sound like a lot of cases of measles. There were a lot more than 154 cases of measles in my own little elementary school of about 300 kids back in the 50s. In those days, pretty much everybody -- myself included -- got measles, rubella, mumps, and chicken pox. But I digress.)
The government puts out all kinds of information touting the safety of the vaccines. For example, here is the CDC's page on the safety of the measles vaccine. But lots of parents avoid the vaccines despite the government information. The big question is, should you trust the government?
It may shock everyone here to learn that on the question of what to do about vaccinating your kids, I am on the side of the government. By all means, the kids should be vaccinated. But this controversy points up a much bigger issue, which is that the government definitely can't be trusted on this or any other issue. On this issue I didn't trust the government, but did my own investigation. So should you.
My view is that the government's credibility is a precious asset to be carefully guarded and used judiciously in the most important situations for the protection of the public's health and safety. That shows you how old-fashioned I am. The government long ago cast aside the old-fashioned view in favor of an approach of putting out whatever fake information they think they can get away with to sell the people on going along with expansion of government size and power. And when mere lies don't work, try fake claims of disaster and apocalypse.
Start just with CDC. If you follow this institution at all, you know that it has a gigantic case of mission creep -- call it "mission explosion." That has led them to redefine lots of things as "disease" and to seek control over large areas of your life that they should have nothing to do with. For example, how about the anti-salt campaign? Yes, CDC is deep into that one. It's current web page on the subject advises that "Most Americans should consume less sodium," and "Too much sodium is bad for your health." Have they even heard that in 2013 the Institute of Medicine put out a big study debunking almost all of the government anti-salt campaign? And how about the campaign against second-hand tobacco smoke? Yes, again, it's one with extremely weak statistical backing, yet endlessly flogged by none other than CDC (along with EPA in this case). Once you've tried enough of these things, nobody will any longer trust anything you say -- and rightly so. So why is there surprise that nobody listens to these people on the subject of vaccines?
And of course, CDC is just the tip of the iceberg. The now-completely-debunked low fat diet? That one is mainly the baby of the Department of Agriculture ("DOA" is my preferred acronym.).
And if we might move on from health issues to economic ones, readers here are well aware that most government economic statistics are false in fundamental ways, always with an eye toward selling the people on bigger and more powerful government. Thus, the so-called "poverty" rate is carefully constructed so that it can never go down no matter how much money the government spends to cure the poverty. Government budgets and deficits are reported on a cash rather than accrual basis, which completely conceals the ongoing disaster of unfunded entitlements. Government GDP statistics are constructed to count even the most outrageous total waste as a 100 cents on the dollar addition to GDP, and thus to make it appear that elimination of total waste decreases GDP.
And I'm only now getting to "the greatest scientific fraud of all time." The amount of fake information put out by the government and government-paid fake "scientists" on the subject of the global warming scare is truly staggering. Indeed, a whole sub-specialty called "climate communication" has sprung up, basically a euphemism for the effort to scare the public with tales of climate apocalypse into turning over complete control of the economy to bureaucrats. The polar ice caps are melting! Polar bears are dying! Sea level rise will drown us all! Do you believe a word they say? Why?
(P.S. Good post here by Tony Heller/Steven Goddard yesterday comparing a New York Times article from December 2012 here predicting closure within 25 years of half of Northeastern ski resorts from warm temperatures and lack of snow to the latest data from US HCN showing that Jan/Feb 2015 is on track to be the coldest since records began about 1890 in the Northeast U.S.)
UPDATE 2/25/15: Many readers may be aware of the scandal whereby Lisa Jackson, then Administrator of EPA, used a personal email account in the name of "Richard Windsor" to do agency business when she wanted to avoid potential disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. A dogged fellow named Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute nevertheless pursued his FOIA requests on climate issues, and ultimately got disclosure of several of the "Richard Windsor" emails. In its weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup, the Science and Environmental Policy Project has an excerpt from an email sent from an EPA functionary to "Richard Windsor" on May 18, 2009:
Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly – and consistently – unpersuasive argument to make. However, if we shift from making this about the polar caps and about our neighbor with respiratory illness, we can potentially bring this issue home to many Americans … By revitalizing our own Children’s Health Office, leading the global charge on this issue, and highlighting the children’s health dimension to all our major initiatives – we will also make this issue real for many American who otherwise would oppose many of our regulatory actions.
It's about the children! And by the way, do these people at EPA know that CO2 has nothing to do with respiratory illness? How could they not? So this is just plain, outright fraud.
Meanwhile, here is a picture from today of ice on the Hudson River at midtown Manhattan (taken from my office). The river only ices up like this once every few decades, and only when the temperature remains below freezing consistently for weeks. Since the average high in late February is 44 degrees F, that is extremely unusual.