- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Misguided views on DDT

“The real trouble with DDT” (Letters, Aug. 23) could only have been written by someone from a malaria-free country — like the United States or a European nation. Both overused DDT to eradicate malaria, yellow fever and other diseases that infected millions every year until the 1940s. Every year, this silent executioner infects more than 400 million Africans and kills up to 2 million. It leaves tens of thousands with permanent brain damage and makes tens of millions too sick with fevers and convulsions to work or attend school for weeks on end, and leaves millions with permanent brain damage, epilepsy and blindness. Half of the victims are young children.

If the United States had similar rates, we would have 100 million sick people and 250,000 dead children every year. Our paranoia about cancer would be forgotten, justifiably, and we’d be spraying DDT again in a flash.

The letter did not even mention the issue of malaria, but concentrated instead on supposed carcinogenic dangers of DDT. Contrary to activists’ claims, this pesticide is not carcinogenic. Hundreds of thousands of GIs in the South Pacific were doused with DDT during World War II to prevent malaria. We doused millions of Italians, Germans and concentration-camp survivors with DDT to prevent typhus. Americans worked and played in clouds of DDT during mosquito eradication programs of the 1950s and 1960s.

No scientific study has demonstrated a link between these actions and cancer. Even EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus admitted that his decision to ban DDT in 1972 was political, and he ignored his own expert panel in making it.

Moreover, modern programs involve tiny amounts of DDT — sprayed on the walls of mud and cinder-block homes — and virtually none gets into the environment or on people. But it works. In South Africa, it cut malaria rates by 80 percent in 18 months, with just two sprayings a year.

However, even if DDT were carcinogenic, most Africans would gladly trade that risk for the infinitely greater real danger they and their children face. They’d be right to do so — and should have the absolute right to do so without being second-guessed by people sitting in air-conditioned, malaria-free homes and offices in Washington, Brussels and Geneva.

To tell Africans they must focus on theoretical cancer risks — and continue living with disease and death risks that DDT could prevent — is unconscionable, lethal and even genocidal. It’s akin to demanding a ban on chemotherapy drugs because they cause anemia, diarrhea, increased risk of infection, hair loss, fertility problems and fetal defects.

Even worse, it is exactly what the World Health Organization, European Union, United Nations and U.S. Agency for International Development have enshrined in their disease-prevention policies. Though their pronouncements give lip service to DDT use, their programs almost never support, fund or include it, despite rising malaria death and disease rates.

It’s time to bring science, reality, morality and humanity back into our disease-control policies and programs. The horrific death toll must end.

Paul Driessen

Senior policy adviser

Congress of Racial Equality


The Akaka bill

Having just returned from the American Legion’s national convention in Honolulu, I found Kathryn Jean Lopez’s column concerning Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka’s bill to create a special class of “Native Hawaiians” particularly timely (“Backsliding in Hawaii,” Commentary, Saturday).

Though as a Caucasian stateside American I am not particularly qualified to judge ethnicitybased onarelativelybrief acquaintance, I could not help but contrast this past week’s experience with that of my last visit to our island state, in 1981. On that occasion, we encountered a population of native Hawaiians and people of Chinese, Japanese, Eurasian and Caucasian backgrounds effectively living and working together and thoroughly “Americanized”bystateside standards.

This year, the population seemed to us quite different — many people of Asian heritage, mostly in service positions, not indigenous to Hawaii, not proficient in English and, in many cases, not adept at understanding English.

In reading the column, I found myself in complete agreement with it and wondering if it might not be more advantageous to the natives and their many visitors alike if Hawaii were to concentrate on homogenizing its many ethnic groups rather than further balkanizing this beautiful state.


Woodbridge, Va.

Housing development in Montgomery County

My thanks to The Washington Times for pulling the covers off yet another Montgomery County housing violation and to Jim Humphrey of the Montgomery County Civic Federation for collecting a countywide list of violations that he will present to the press (“Builder seen let off the hook illegally,” Metropolitan, Thursday).

I learned the hard way who runs the political show in the Montgomery County government when, as a resident of Woodside Manor Apartments in Silver Spring, I organized along with my neighbors to form a tenants association in order to invoke our right of first refusal and to fight the takeover of our affordable homes by a profit-driven developer.

To our dismay, Montgomery County officials opposed the tenants and backed the developer at each and every turn.

Pope John Paul II said that capitalism undisciplined by morality will self-destruct. Let’s hope that that does not happen before we have the satisfaction of making it to the polls this next election to vote out the incumbents.

Peggy Mintzell

Silver Spring

Illegal aliens and stagnant wages

The Sunday editorial “Tying skills to wages” highlights the widening income disparity between skilled and unskilled workers. Over the past five years, average real weekly earnings have remained stagnant or have fallen for much of the work force. Pension and health benefits are disappearing rapidly, too.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan bypassed the dominant reason for falling wages by attributing this disparity to “failure of our society to enhance the skills of a significant segment of our workforce.”

In fact, declining wages result principally from the inexhaustible supply of labor provided through illegal immigration. Income disparity inevitably widens as millions of unskilled workers pour relentlessly across our southern borders.

It’s naive to ignore the impact of supply and demand on the wages of unskilled labor. When politicians claim that illegals just take jobs that Americans don’t want, they’re only partly correct. Illegal aliens take jobs at prices and conditions that Americans cannot accept without dramatically reducing their standards of living.

The federal government’s unspoken policy of benign neglect on the southern border is designed to depress wages. It has succeeded spectacularly in doing so.

Mr. Greenspan warned of “resentment and political polarization” resulting from the widening disparity in wealth and income. In order to avoid this, we must recapture our southern borders.

We do not need “comprehensive immigration reform” or other retooled amnesty schemes. For now, Congress should focus on authorizing 50,000 new Border Patrol agents. Considering administrative overhead and four shifts per day, 50,000 agents would mean five new officers per mile along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

This plan will work. The Minutemen proved its practicality by temporarily blocking the smuggling of drugs and aliens on the Arizona border using reasonable, common-sense measures.

Re-establishing our borders will end wage stagnation and renew hope for millions of workers’ families. Americans don’t want repackaged plans for amnesty. They want serious border control, and they want it now.

Dick Black

Virginia House of Delegates


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