Ken Blackwell: The Left Goes to War Against Science, Surrenders on Terror
This column originally appeared on BigGovernment.com on January 5, 2010.
Two ongoing trends I chronicled during 2009 highlight an ironic situation: Leftists remain tough on their domestic political opponents, while lax when it comes to our real common enemies.
As we recently saw with the Christmas airplane-bombing attempt, leftists seem bent on treating terrorists with kid gloves, insisting they receive rights normally reserved for U.S. citizens (even when this means failing to extract timely information that might save lives).
Conversely, leftists play “hardball” when their opponents are not terrorists or criminals, but instead, American businesses and industries. One such example is the left’s battle against Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used for more than a half century to make plastics more durable.
Though clearly less consequential than the war on terror, the Left’s war on BPA serves as a microcosm of the larger attempt to use “junk science” and litigation to redistribute wealth from job-producing American industries into the hands of trial lawyers and liberal special interest groups.
In this regard, the Left’s attempts are reminiscent of their past battle against the insecticide DDT. In the 1960s, many developing nation’s had nearly wiped out malaria, but it came back after DDT was banned. It did not matter that DDT was harmless to humans — and actually saved lives — the Left attacked it, ultimately causing 50 million preventable deaths.
Despite the fact that BPA has consistently been proven by the FDA to be harmless to humans — and despite the fact that the FDA is about to release a new study on the chemical in a few weeks — several media outlets (most notably the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the LA Times) have called on the FDA to rule that the chemical is dangerous — before the new study comes out. Talk about pre-judging a case…
Let me stress that BPA has consistently been proven to be harmless in humans. What is more, as I’ve previously noted, liberal special interests have a clear financial stake in attacking the chemical. Lastly, it is clear that numerous businesses which produce plastics ranging from sporting equipment to shatterproof water bottles, to eyeglass lenses, to CDs stand to lose significant amounts of money, possibly causing them to layoff employees in places such as my home state of Ohio, if BPA is banned.
To be sure, if the new FDA study fairly concludes the chemical is unsafe for humans (a conclusion that would contradict numerous prior studies), I would obviously agree that these products should be pulled. But that is precisely why this premature interference is so pernicious. Now that the jury has effectively been tampered with, what are the odds that the new study will, in fact, be accepted as fair? In fact, there is a very real danger we may be allowing media groups to establish science policy, without the benefit of science.
Leftists would be the first to cry foul if a criminal were presumed guilty, and they would object to the sort of “double jeopardy” which causes a product to defend itself indefinitely (or, until proven guilty). Yet, they seem to have no problem when the target is an American industry, not a terrorist or criminal. After all, a 2009 FDA study concluded BPA was safe. Apparently, that wasn’t the “right” conclusion. …If only leftists were as tough on terrorists as they are on American businesses.