Emails and articles of interest are posted here by John Ray to make them more widely available
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3
My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.
I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.
Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.
America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course
The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"
Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts
Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left
The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.
Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.
Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.
The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here
Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies
The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.
Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt
I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful
The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel
"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises
The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.
Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses
Among well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.
A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.
Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.
Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.
Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.
“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser
"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus
THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU
"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.
Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.
Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance
Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.
MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.
Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).
The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.
Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.
Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.
IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.
If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!
And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!
The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned
"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.
Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel
Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.
Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.
Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists
The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.
Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable
A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.
"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama
The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges
The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.
The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload
A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here
Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16
People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.
Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.
Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."
R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason
Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?
The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.
Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?
Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable
I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.
As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.
Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)
First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean
It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.
I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.
The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"
UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.
Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide
I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.
I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.
I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address
Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.
"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit
I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.
It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.
If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.
COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.
My academic background
My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here
MY OTHER SITES
EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL
FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC
EYE ON BRITAIN
IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL
Of Interest 3
There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here
Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
China Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
Longer Academic Papers
Academic home page
Academic Backup Page
General Backup 2
MONOGRAPH ON LEFTISM
CONSERVATISM AS HERESY
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
Psychology of Left
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism
Pyszczynski et al.
Cautionary blogs about big Australian companies:
St. George bank
Bank of Qld.
(My frequent reads are starred)
10 o'clock scholar
11 Day Empire
American Indian Movement
Anthropology & Econ
Blogs against Hillary
Blood & Guts
Brian Leiter scrutinized
Campus Newspaper Confab
Candle in dark
Civilian Gun Self defense
Common-sense & Wonder*
Discover the networks
Elephants in Academia
Enter Stage Right
Everything I Know
Fighting in the Shade
Gates of Vienna
Gay and Right
Ghost of Flea
Global warming & Climate
One Good Turn
GOP & The City
Grumpy Old Sod
Gust of Hot Air
Hall of Record
R. Hide MP
Hummers & Cigarettes
Junk Food science
Just One Minute
Keeping it Simple
Kim Du Toit
Knowledge is Power
Let it bleed
Little Green footballs
Lost Tooth Soc
Midwest by DC
More Sense than Money
Museum of Left Lunacy
My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Neo Con Blogger
Never Yet Melted
New Media Journal
New Zeal Pundit
Norm Quantum Weatherby
Northeastern Intelligence Network
OC Register blog
On the Right Side
Political Theory Review
Regions of Mind
Rhymes with Right
Right Wing news
Sine Qua Non
Stop and Think
Stop the ACLU
Talk Climate Change
Truth Laid Bear
Voices in Head
Watt's up with that
Winds of Change
World of Reason
Write Wing Warrior
You Big Mouth
Early Childhood Education
No 2 Pencil
Environmental Economics & Sust. Devel.
Truck & Barter
Aussie Political Report
A E Brain
L. Hissink's Crazy World
Little Tin Soldier
Tao of Defiance
Voice of Pacific
Paul & Carl
It's A Matter of Opinion
The Dog Blog
Welcome to the Asylum
BNP and Me
Britain & America
Burning our Money
Campaign Against Political Correctness
Campaign for English Parliament
House of Dumb
IQ & PC
Right to be Free
Walking the Streets
Freedom & Whisky
A Place to Stand
Brit Nats in Wales
Hot Air Forum
Ice & Fire
Not A Fish
The Portuguese connection
A Razao das Coisas
Avaliando o mundo
Boticario de Provincia
Nadando contra a mare
O Blog do Alex
European Family Health
Le Guerre Civili
Best of Web
Business Review Weekly
International Business Times
Sydney Morning Harold
12/30/2001 - 01/06/2002
08/11/2002 - 08/18/2002
01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003
03/02/2003 - 03/09/2003
03/09/2003 - 03/16/2003
03/23/2003 - 03/30/2003
04/06/2003 - 04/13/2003
04/13/2003 - 04/20/2003
05/04/2003 - 05/11/2003
05/11/2003 - 05/18/2003
05/18/2003 - 05/25/2003
05/25/2003 - 06/01/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/08/2003
06/08/2003 - 06/15/2003
06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003
06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003
06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003
07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003
07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003
07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003
08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003
08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003
08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003
08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003
08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003
09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003
09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003
09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003
10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003
11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003
11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004
01/04/2004 - 01/11/2004
01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004
01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004
02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004
02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004
02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004
03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004
03/21/2004 - 03/28/2004
03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004
04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004
04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004
05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004
05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004
05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004
05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004
05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004
06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004
06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004
06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004
06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004
07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004
08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004
09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004
09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004
09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004
10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004
10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004
10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004
11/07/2004 - 11/14/2004
11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004
12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004
12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005
01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005
01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005
03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005
04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005
04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005
06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005
07/10/2005 - 07/17/2005
07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005
07/31/2005 - 08/07/2005
09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005
09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005
10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005
12/25/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 01/08/2006
01/22/2006 - 01/29/2006
04/09/2006 - 04/16/2006
04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006
05/07/2006 - 05/14/2006
05/14/2006 - 05/21/2006
06/04/2006 - 06/11/2006
06/18/2006 - 06/25/2006
07/23/2006 - 07/30/2006
08/06/2006 - 08/13/2006
08/13/2006 - 08/20/2006
09/24/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
12/05/2010 - 12/12/2010
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
PERCHLORATE PARANOIA PERCOLATING IN PASADENA: Misperceiving "Malign Intent"
By Wayne Lusvardi
Newspaper columns in Southern California newspapers are bubbling with a new paranoia from those on the left side of the political spectrum about the recently released new safety guidelines for perchlorate in drinking water recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The suspicion is that the Bush administration has somehow put its thumb on the prestigious National Academy, and like allegedly rigged elections and deceitful wars, is jeopardizing children's health by loosening the former EPA standard of 1 part per billion to 20 parts per billion of perchlorate in drinking water.
Letter writer Dr. Michael Storrie-Lombardi, M.D., in the Jan. 18 issue of the Pasadena Star News writes:
"Please encourage L.A. County and the governor to implement a higher set of
water quality standards for our children's drinking water in spite of the federal
government's malign intent."
South Pasadena resident Megeen McLaughlin writes in the Jan. 22 issue of the Star News:
"As a spiritual counselor, mother, sister, and friend, I speak with all too many
mothers who are tormented by the suffering of their children from learning
disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and other maladies. To think that these
afflictions may be linked to drinking water contaminated by perchlorate (a
component of rocket fuel) is all the more disturbing."
The editorial column of the Pasadena Weekly entitled "More Watered Down Answers" states:
"We've waited this long for the federal government to finally take some action -
and this is what they've concluded! Waiting a little while longer - at least until
we can find a handful of honorable people who haven't been morally contaminated
by greed and money to set standards affecting our very lives - isn't going to make
that much of a difference to anyone, except perhaps the people who have done
all the polluting and must now clean it up."
It is little wonder that the center of all this paranoia percolating to the surface is in the City of Pasadena, which is the original "home" of perchlorate. Engineer-scientist John Parsons reportedly first used perchlorate as a rocket fuel catalyst in the 1940's at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is located in Pasadena. Pasadena is an "all blue" city, with all its elected city officials and state and federal legislators from the Democratic Party.
Water agencies in Rancho Cordova, Pasadena, Redlands, Azusa, Rialto, Santa Clarita, Seal Beach have shut down groundwater wells and are facing huge cleanup costs to remove perchlorate from contaminated water supplies, all without any clear health benefits. Perchlorate has been detected in about 350 water wells in some 90 private and public water systems in California, about 90% of these in Southern California. Most affected wells contain less than 10 parts per billion (ppb) of perchlorate. Most of these Perchlorate "plumes" (subsurface ponds) are in proximity to World War II rocket fuel testing grounds or manufacturing plants and explosive or fireworks plants. But are all the water well shutdowns and paranoia about the new perchlorate guidelines justified or is it irrational?
Puncturing Bubbles of Perchlorate Science
The danger from perchlorate, dubbed "powdered oxygen," a salt-like substance used to provide oxygen so solid rocket fuel can burn, is not that it is poisonous or causes cancer, but that it is an endocrine gland disrupter. The fear is that the perchlorate molecule attaches to a protein that carries essential iodine to the thyroid gland. By taking the place of iodine, perchlorate is thought to result in stunted growth and development of infants or unborn children who are dependent on their mother's thyroid gland production.
All urban treated water supplies contain a form of chlorine, an ingredient in perchlorate, and ammonia which are the most effective disinfectants against deadly diseases. The molecular structure of chlorine in drinking water is not the same as in perchlorate. However, as microbiologist Raymond Gabler points out in his book Is Your Water Safe to Drink? chlorination of drinking water is a two-edged sword because it creates carcinogens in water that are more of a potential health hazard than perchlorate. For example, the water disinfectant chloramine (chlorine and ammonia) kills gold fish in a home aquarium but perchlorate does not.
The fear of perchlorate is not totally unfounded as up to the 1960's very high doses of potassium perchlorates were once used to treat thyroid conditions such as Graves disease - hyperthyroidism or too much thyroid hormone. The current treatment for hyperthyroidism is radiation treatment. The incidence of thyroid disorders in pregnancy is reported as 0.5% to 2%.
The problem with the fear of perchlorate, according to many independent university toxicologists, is that other natural substances in the human diet have the same or greater effect as perchlorate. Thiocyanates (a salt) can inhibit iodine production in the thyroid and are found in milk, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. A 3.5 ounce serving of Brussels sprouts has the same effect as eating about 8,000 ppb's perchlorate, 8-ounces of milk not laced with perchlorate has the same effect of about 16 to 80 ppb's of perchlorate, and even drinking water that meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) standard for nitrates equates to about 90 parts per billion of perchlorate. U.C. Riverside toxicologist Bob Krieger states that the perchlorate risk is poorly understood and amounts to no more of a danger than eating Brussels sprouts (see here). Moreover, it has now come to light that soybeans, used in tofu and soymilk, are another natural glandular disrupter similar to perchlorate.
There are even more disturbing problems with mandating costly cleanups of perchlorate from groundwater supplies.
The vast majority of the population in Southern California has for some 50-years been exposed to standard perchlorate levels (6 ppb) from Colorado River water without any documented widespread increase in hormonal abnormalities.
Secondly, casting aside the questionable methodologies of experimental studies with small sample populations, it would seem that the most reliable study of the health effects of perchlorate was that conducted on nearly 10,000 children from three cities in Chile where naturally occurring nitrate deposits make it the only place in the world where the effects of natural perchlorate have been measured for decades. Perchlorate is found in the groundwater in the Atacam Desert of Chile at about 120 parts per billion and dilutes into groundwater at 7 parts per billion, or about the same level as occurs in the Colorado River Aqueduct. Yet no effects on thyroid health among infants and children have ever been found beyond typical levels (J. Occup. Med. 2004, Jun: 46(6): 516-7).
The claim that perchlorate has entered the food chain and poses a health hazard in milk has also been proven to be bogus. As pointed out by Dr. Brahama Sharma, PhD, Fellow Royal Society of Chemists, it is chemically impossible for perchlorate to pose a health hazard in milk. Perchlorate (one atom of chlorine and four atoms of oxygen) is an ion which is negatively charged. Milk is composed of compounds of carbon, such as carbohydrates like lactose, which are abundant in milk and positively charged (Brahama D. Sharma, "Perchlorate Scare," Letter to Star News circa July 4, 2004). Thus, lactose in milk neutralizes perchlorate. In fact, one method of treating perchlorate contamination is by carbohydrate injection, which uses molasses or corn syrup as a neutralizer. (see here).
Dr. Michael Payne, a toxicologist at U.C. Davis, has stated: "Perchlorate definitely blocks (thyroid function) at high levels. But at these miniscule levels, any damage is theoretical. In fact, two studies conducted with populations' drinking water with much higher perchlorate levels than (those found in California milk) showed no adverse affects" ("Rocket Fuel Found in California Milk," SF Chronicle, June 22, 2004).
The dose makes the poison
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the major principle of health science in determining if it is harmful - "the dosage makes the poison." Anything can be harmful, including air or pure water, depending on its concentration, length of exposure, and whether it can target a specific organ of the human body, such as the thyroid gland. A sleeping pill, beer, aspirin and many other products consumed daily contain substances which are likely to pose much more of a health risk than perchlorate. Drinking more than 4 to 5 beers per day for pregnant women can mimic some of the same health problems for unborns and infants as do high doses of perchlorate, such as growth retardation in the fetus, deformed organs, and central nervous system dysfunction. (see here). Actual high consumption of alcohol is a greater danger to young children than hypothetical perchlorate exposures.
What the controversy is evidently all about is an infinitesimal amount of perchlorate --about one-sixth of a drop of water by my calculation -- spread out over all the water that is used by a typical family over a period of one year (162,925 gallons).
Former EPA epidemiologist Dr. Steven Lamm, PhD, has stated that doses of 1000 milligrams per day were once used for medicinal purposes compared to about 4 micrograms (four millionths of a gram) from water and food exposures (see here). Lamm states that environmental exposure to perchlorate equates to about 1/250,000th of the toxic dose.
On January 10, 2005, a committee of scientists from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that perchlorate is safe to drink at levels of 20 ppb's, which is twenty times higher than the previous standard established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002 of 1 ppb. The National Academy used a safety factor of ten, which means to play it safe they have intentionally set the safe exposure level at one tenth of the real exposure level (200 ppb's). In June 2004 a distinguished panel of scientists at the U.C. Irvine Urban Water Research Center issued a recommendation of 100 ppb's as safe (see here). U.C. Riverside toxicologist Robert Kreiger has concluded an adult could safely drink water containing as much as 220 parts per billion of perchlorate. The U.S. Department of Defense has recommended 200 ppb's as safe.
The suspicion that the Bush administration has perhaps influenced the National Academy of Sciences to compromise its health standards is not born out by the above data. The new National Academy standard of 20 ppb's is five times lower than the 100 ppb standard set by U.C. Irvine and ten times lower what many other independent toxicologists consider as safe.
Perchlorate safety levels are a tug-of-war for resources and prestige between many organizations. The Council on Water Quality has reliable health data on perchlorate but is criticized for accepting funds from industry. Likewise, the Environmental Working Group is a big advocate for the unrealistic removal of all perchlorate from drinking water, but receives funds from quasi-political organizations such as the Heinz Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Merck Fund. The safety levels recommended by toxicologists in the University of California system seem the most reliable.
Regulatory agencies have set perchlorate safety levels far, far below that recommended by expert panels of scientists. Regulatory guidelines for water well shutdowns have not been set by science but by default at the smallest amount of perchlorate that can be measured (4 ppb); or the amount that is found in the Colorado River Aqueduct (6 ppb). Scientists and regulators not only disagree on the safe amount of perchlorate in drinking water but can't agree on a standard way to measure it. Regulatory agencies use a parts per billion measure while the new national guideline has shifted to a parts per body weight measure that is, to say the least, confusing for determining the safe amount in local water supplies.
As U.C. Riverside toxicologist Bob Krieger has stated: "If you want something to oppose, how can you do any better than the military and rocket fuel? We drive these standards down to low levels based on the naivet‚ of the public."
Straining out gnats while swallowing camels
Constructing new high tech perchlorate treatment plants at $15 to $25 million each, with annual operating costs of $500,000 to $5 million, for negligible health benefits might be more of an environmental crime than criminalizing and shaking down industries and taxpayers. The Defense Department may have to spend as much as $55 billion to clean up perchlorate in and around military bases.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced a "Right to Know" bill about perchlorate standards for communities. We can only hope that full disclosure will explain the miniscule relative health risks, the huge costs involved, and the lack of any yet proven health benefits. Moreover, the public should be informed that shutting down local "contaminated" water wells means having to rely on expensive Colorado River water which paradoxically has the same amount of perchlorate as contaminated water wells. We also need to know that we cannot rid perchlorate from our drinking water for 25 to 30 years through conventional pump and treat methods. As R. Allan Freeze, a former U.C. Berkeley engineering geologist has stated in his book The Environmental Pendulum: A Quest for Truth about Toxic Chemicals, Human Health, and Environmental Protection, the dirty little secret of Superfund cleanups is that if we turn off the pumps and walk away from such "money pits," not much would happen that would really matter as it may take forever to clean up most sites and the health benefits may be negligible.
Programs to help people suffering from cancer, AIDs, and other real health afflictions are facing funding cuts as public resource dollars are shifted to perchlorate removal projects that have only theoretical health benefits. Perchlorate safety standards literally strain out gnats while swallowing a camel (Matthew 12:24).
Scientists and policy makers apparently do not have definitive answers about what is a safe amount in drinking water. There is insufficient scientific data to prove or disprove that trace levels of perchlorate cause significant increases in birth defects or intellectual deficits to children. Given the questionable results from perchlorate clean ups, wouldn't it be more prudent to use less costly methods of perchlorate remediation such as containment, targeted removal of "hot spots," and use of bioremediation methods of treatment?
Facts and financial prudence not political paranoia, or self interest cloaking itself as the public interest, should inform our community's response to the risk of perchlorate in our drinking water.
(Author: Wayne Lusvardi is a Pasadena resident and a real estate economist who formerly worked for the Metro Water District of S. California. He has published articles on water, energy, and environmental impacts on real estate. He is active in the Libertarian Party. This article was anonymously reviewed by a doctor of medicine. Contact: email@example.com.)
Two of the articles to which the above is a reply can currently be found here and here
On January 30th, 2004, I received the following curious email from Mercury610@aol.com:
The letter by one Wayne Lusvardi(January 27) entitled "Eat More Perchlorate" has just come to my attention.
Mr. Luswardi states, in part, "Why has Dr. Brahama Sharma, Ph.D., Fellow Royal Society of Chemists, stated that it is chemically impossible for perchlorate (one atom of chlorine and four atoms of oxygen) to be harmful in milk because perchlorate is a negatively charged ion that is neutralized by positively charged lactose, a carbohydrate ingredient in milk?"
Please be advised that to attribute to a person a statement without citing the source is a cardinal sin in the realm of scientific discussion.
On top of that, the name of the person mentioned above is erroneous. The name without MI "D" and variation or abbreviation thereof is NOT SYNONYMOUS. The name of the society mentioned is incorrect.
The person never stated that " because perchlorate is a negatively charged ion that it is neutralized by positively charged lactose, a carbohydrate ingredient in milk?"
At no time was it implied or explicitly stated that lactose is positively charged? This is an outlandish misrepresentation. It is clear that Mr. Wayne Luswardi is abysmally ignorant of chemistry and misrepresents what was stated. An immediate retraction of the attribution must be made.
BRAHAMA D. SHARMA, Ph.D.,C.Chem.,FRSC(life)
name without MI "D" and variation or abbreviation thereof is NOT SYNONYMOUS
P O BOX 1626, PISMO BEACH, CA 93448-1626
I get the distinct impression that Dr. Sharma is something of a fruitcake. He appears to be greatly roiled by the fact that Wayne mentioned his middle initial only on the second occasion he was referred to.
The articles Wayne was replying to have now gone offline but he has re-posted them here