- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

ADHD is a legitimate disorder

If it weren't for my personal experience with several children who struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I would have been quick to agree with Robert Holland and Don Soifer's feelings about the disease ("Curbing psychological drug use," Commentary, Monday). My own daughter was also diagnosed with a mild version of ADHD, which we have successfully treated with behavior therapy and other interventions that have not had to include medication.
As a conservative who knows the Lexington Institute in Arlington well, I agree with my fellow conservatives on most issues. They're wrong on this one, however. ADHD is a real disease, and many well-known conservative figures, including columnist Mona Charen, have changed their position on ADHD accordingly. While Mr. Holland and Mr. Soifer are absolutely right to raise questions about the scope and direction of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, they are wrong to equate it with the increased diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.
What's at issue here is parents' right to choose what's best for their children. Parents who take personal responsibility for their children's well-being, by seeking medical counsel and treatment, personify sound conservative values. My advice to any parent who read Mr. Holland and Mr. Soifer's column is, please do not be dissuaded from seeking diagnosis and help for your child if you suspect that he suffers from ADHD.
Your right to take action is a fundamental conservative value that all of us should defend.

FairfaxAs one who has practiced pediatric medicine for 28 years, I was disappointed to see that Robert Holland and Don Soifer allowed their political ideology to oppose good medicine when treating children suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
They are not correct in asserting that ADHD is a fake disorder developed to excuse lazy parenting in other words, that all these children really need is some "tough love," or less sugar. Unfortunately for the authors of this column, the leading medical authorities, including the American Medical Association, U.S. surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), disagree, as they have all officially recognized the disorder and medicinal treatments for years.
ADHD is real and can be accurately diagnosed and treated. Studies show that medications, when used appropriately, are safe and work in more than 75 percent of all cases. According to the AAP, a combination of behavior modification and medicinal therapy, when clinically determined necessary, is most effective.
It's time for people such as Mr. Holland and Mr. Soifer to stop stigmatizing this serious mental health disorder so that parents can feel comfortable seeking help for their children and more important their children can receive the treatment they deserve.


The less-than-sunny state of Azerbaijan

I was pleased to see an Op-Ed column concerning Azerbaijan ("Azerbaijan stands by America," Feb. 26). After visiting my in-laws and conducting research in Azerbaijan this past summer, I'm aware that it is a little-known country to most Americans and needs more press coverage in the United States. I commend the column's author, Georgetown University professor S. Rob Sobhani, for doing just that.
However, I wish to counter some misconceptions that could result from Mr. Sobhani's statements concerning Azerbaijan's current leadership. While its rule has been good for foreign investors and corporate interests, President Heydar Aliyev's regime has been a disaster for most of Azerbaijan's people. Mr. Aliyev has remained in power through falsified elections as observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have acknowledged more than once which mock the legitimacy of Azerbaijan's representative democracy.
Corruption and bribery are rampant in Azerbaijan, from police officers on the beat to the government's top offices. The number of police per capita far exceeds internationally accepted standards, making the country a police state in the truest sense of those words. The police do the president's bidding, including kidnapping political opponents.
Muslims who oppose the Aliyev presidency are labeled "extremists" or some other derogatory term in order to discredit them, even when they're peaceful people who simply want to worship their religion without government interference. The government has been known to arrest Muslim opposition leaders on a whim.
Worst of all, the country's economy is firmly under governmental control. To do business there, one must either pay bribes or become part of the regime's support structure. Many people, including refugees from the ongoing war with Armenia, who constitute 12 percent of the population, are struggling just to feed their families. Nearly 20 percent of the population has immigrated to escape poverty. Meanwhile, the president and his family, in power for almost 10 years now, have become billionaires.
Given the undemocratic state-of-affairs in Azerbaijan, one cannot definitively say, as did Mr. Sobhani, that its people stand by America. It seems Azerbaijan's president stands by President Bush, but we don't know whether Azerbaijan's people do and we won't know until someone emerges who can legitimately speak for them.

Professor of political science
Westminster College

Salt Lake City correctly cites history as a "real-world" obstacle facing President Bush's formula for peace in Palestine, but instead of beginning its historical review with the founding of Israel in 1948, the editorial should have reached back to 1917. The trouble began there when the war-worrying British government issued with the ill-considered concurrence of President Woodrow Wilson its fateful promise known as the Balfour Declaration.
Whatever its intentions and terms, that promise effectively pitted a Jewish minority in Palestine (numbering 83,790 in 1922), which was intent upon turning Palestine into a Jewish state, against the Muslim majority of 589,177, which was intent upon defending its territory.
The result of that lopsided beginning has been 86 years of confrontation, civil strife, wars and intifadas. An honest review of all this history will show the aptness of Jonathan Haslam's characterization of the Balfour Declaration, in the London Review of Books, as "perhaps the most costly promissory note ever issued."


In defense of farm subsidies

Tuesday's editorial, "A bitter harvest," perpetuates the myth that poor farmers in developing countries would be prospering if only the West did away with farm subsidies. Of course, the recent famines in Ethiopia and Southern Africa, which had little to do with a lack of food, per se, were left out of the discussion.
The first fact that needs to be recognized is that Western farm subsidies have flooded the world with cheap food. Despite this, millions of poor people in the developing world cannot afford to buy enough food even at the current, artificially low prices. What will happen to them if food prices are allowed to rise to the real market price?
It also should be noted that many horticultural products are now successfully exported from developing countries to the advanced nations simply because they cannot be grown in Europe or North America. There are no coffee farmers in the first world. The same can be said for cocoa, palm oil, bananas, sisal, copra, vanilla and numerous other crops.
Horticultural products such as flowers and winter vegetables are also successfully exported from Third World to First World markets. The claims made by know-nothing critics of the West that farm subsidies contribute to poverty in the Third World by suppressing domestic markets are not only wrong but dangerous. Poor people in the developing world benefit from Western farm subsidies in important ways. These benefits include lower food prices and textile jobs created in part by cheap and abundant cotton. In fact, everyone who eats benefits from farm subsidies. In the United States in 1957, the average price of a gallon of milk was $1. Today, milk can often be bought on sale for 99 cents a gallon.
Last, keep in mind that much of the tax money saved from dropping farm subsidies would have to be spent feeding the hungry in developed nations, as well as the Third World. The next drought in Africa might well bring millions of deaths because the huge tax-subsidized farm surpluses of today would not be there.

Greenfield, Ind.

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