- - Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poking fun at liberals and their schemes is good sport. When they draw up a solution to the world’s ills, the result is always waste, duplication, fraud and disaster. Sometimes those ideas from the fringe can be downright dangerous.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the most prominent surviving member of the Kennedy clan, came to Washington the other day to lobby Congress into “doing something” about vaccines. Next month, Mr. Kennedy has a book to advance the discredited theory that a common vaccine preservative causes autism.

Perhaps his book will never escape the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble, which would be all to the good because it peddles a theory based on a scam. Medical researchers have concluded that the only link between vaccines and autism was the assertion by a British researcher in the medical journal BMJ, which was retracted when the journal learned that the researcher was paid by trial lawyers eager to file lawsuits inspired by manufactured hysteria about vaccines.

When public figures advance the fiction that vaccines lead to autism, it can lead directly to deaths and illness for children.

When the vaccine scare first hit in 1998, there were five deaths from whooping cough, a disease that was well on its way to extinction. Some parents listened to the junk science and stopped inoculating their children. Within seven years, the annual death toll rose to 31, higher than it had been in 40 years.

Vaccines had wiped out measles in the United States by 2000. This deadly childhood disease once killed upward of 500 children a year. Then came the hysteria over vaccines. So far this year, 20 states have reported 580 children who have contracted measles, as counted by to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccine scare isn’t the only junk science in Mr. Kennedy’s portfolio. His environmental schemes to eliminate carbon dioxide would restrict the very gas that enables plants and crops to grow. The environmental limits and cap-and-trade programs he proposes would snuff opportunities for prosperity for the people who need it most.

The only way people in developing nations can create the wealth necessary to obtain food, medicine, clean water and sanitation, and quality housing is through economic growth based on manufacturing. The smokestacks of power plants and factories Mr. Kennedy wants to close, because he sees them as blights on the environment, are seen by most of the people in the world as beacons of hope and change.

Millions spend their lives trying to avoid malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, dehydration and malnutrition. They don’t have the luxury to say, “We’re healthy, we don’t need vaccines anymore.” They can’t afford to tear down inexpensive coal-fired power plants to erect expensive solar panels that don’t work when the sun goes down. The poor and deprived can’t afford to abandon the advanced agricultural techniques that grow food in difficult conditions.

Mr. Kennedy doesn’t think much of those who disagree with his dangerous ideas. In 2007, he told a conference promoting global warming that climate realists are guilty of “treason” and “we need to start treating them now as traitors.” Whether by the gallows or the firing squad, the usual destinations of traitors, he did not say. Just listening to a Kennedy can be sometimes as hazardous to your health as either one.