- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The link between autism and childhood vaccinations

Heather O’Brien’s letter “Flu shots and autism” (Saturday) should be cause for national alarm when she writes that a 6-month-old baby receiving the recommended flu vaccine for this year will receive mercury levels that can be handled only by someone weighing 275 pounds according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

Six years after the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration all recommended that vaccine makers eliminate the mercury-based neurotoxin thimerosal because of the potential for neurological damage, it is still in 90 percent of the flu vaccine for this year.

Dr. Kenneth Stoller, a Santa Fe pediatrician and assistant professor of åpediatrics at the University of New Mexico, addressed the State Pharmacy Board of New Mexico on Nov. 14 and told the board that “giving a three-year-old child the flu vaccine will raise their blood level of organic mercury beyond what the CDC has defined as a chemical poisoning.”

During the past 20 years, the autism rate has gone from one in 10,000 to one in every 166 children. Furthermore, one in every six schoolchildren has a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder or some other learning disability. This increase has directly coincided with the increase in mercury-containing vaccines in the childhood schedule. The best our federal health agencies can tell us is that these numbers are all because of “better diagnosing.” These agencies continue to deny that the neurological disorders are in any way connected to the increased use of mercury.



The vaccine program is truly the sacred cow of health care, and to challenge safety claims requires a great deal of courage. Too many of those who should have had the best interests of our children at the center of their professional work sought primarily to promote the interests of the drug companies. Our federal health agencies are rampant with hundreds of conflict-of-interest waivers for direct financial ties to the vaccine makers.

ANNE MCELROY DACHEL

Media relations coordinator

National Autism Association

Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Punishing fuel efficiency?

I’m not at all surprised that the feds are considering an added tax on gasoline to make up for the reduced revenue caused by fuel-efficient vehicles (“Tax of fuel-efficient cars, mileage eyed,” Business, Saturday). In 1978, when President Carter was admonishing us to buy fuel-efficient cars (his plan was for us to buy one but not drive it) I purchased a diesel-powered car. It was more efficient and mostly a pleasure to drive save that diesel fuel was of such poor quality that it was a constant battle to keep the car running.

The final blow to my diesel ownership came when Congress quadrupled the tax on diesel fuel, erasing any savings from its use. I sold the diesel and bought an oversized Lincoln. It was a lot less expensive to run.

Perhaps if the states and feds would do a better job of building highways, we wouldn’t have to worry about so many repairs being required. Even better, if we had a working passenger rail system like we used to have, we wouldn’t have to build and maintain the highways so often.

JAMES R. CAMPBELL

Arlington

So now, after subsidizing the hybrid with a tax credit, we want to tax it based on mileage driven. At first glance, the mileage tax or even the idea of adding a couple dollars of taxes to a gallon of gas seems reasonable; if you want people to use less of something, you make it more expensive.

However, at this point, all this amounts to is an extremely unfair and inequitable Band-Aid being employed to fix a problem that never should have arisen. The origin of the problem does not lie in too much or too little government, but in really bad government run by people who should have known better.

When I watch television every night, there must be a car ad every five minutes, and hey, the cars look better than ever and are even cheaper than ever for what you get. The best housing always seems to be in a suburb off a freeway exit ramp, and — surprise, surprise — all the best retail stores seem to show up there also.

The industry making this life possible is scattered up and down the same freeway. The cities expanded into suburbs when the system of freeways was built, making life as we know it possible in the suburbs.

The big elephant in the closet that determined the way we live now — spread out in the suburbs — versus the way we use to live — concentrated in the city — is local and state government. Our elected politicians, planners and people in the know generally have done a miserable job describing options and consequences.

Do we want to be like Portland, Ore. — top-down, heavy-handed government forcing rings of development from the city center — or Atlanta — spread out, with sprawl made possible by a transportation system that consists only of cars and freeways?

A friend of mine who recently visited Seoul said that automobiles had become so numerous in the city that the government had to limit drivers to using their cars only on certain days of the week based on their license-plate numbers. If you enjoy rationing, I guess this is OK. If you do not, you had better decide whether you want to be like Portland or Atlanta, on the way to becoming Seoul, and the politicians and the governments they run will need to stop abdicating their responsibility.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

James Martin thinks high energy prices are a problem and Congress is to blame (“How Congress pumps up prices,” Commentary, Friday). In fact, high energy prices are both a symptom of energy scarcity and the right tool for dealing with this scarcity.

Yes, energy taxes are a portion of the price we pay at the pump. But energy taxes are higher in Europe and Japan, with the result that Europe and Japan use far less gasoline per capita than we do.

The problem isn’t high energy prices — the problem is that we are overwhelmingly dependent on an energy source that is largely controlled by foreign countries and that soon will enter into an inevitable decline. Congress’ duty isn’t to ensure low prices — it is to ensure our economic viability by helping us make the transition away from oil dependence.

Ending our dependence on oil will be the project of several decades’ work. If we wait for oil depletion to force us to begin that project, we will have started a couple decades late. After oil production declines, prices will go up.

This will give us the incentive needed to find, conserve and develop alternatives. However, it also will send our money to the oil-exporting nations, leaving us cash poor at exactly the time when we need to make big investments.

What we should do instead is create the needed price incentive now through an oil tax increase. We could use the proceeds to reduce the deficit, thereby reducing future taxes. If we raise prices through a tax increase, we keep the money in America and we begin the process of becoming energy independent before it is too late.

ROSEMARY M. HAMILL

North Potomac

Parental oversight

Using apocalyptic language, the author of “Christmas, porn and children” (Op-Ed, Friday) warns that new technologies give children access to pornography. This is nothing new. By replacing the words IPod, PlayStation and camera phones with the terms video cameras, VHS tapes and Polaroid cameras, the article could have been written a decade ago. What we learned then, and what still holds true today, is that governmental oversight is no substitute for parental supervision.

The only sure outcomes from increased governmental oversight of these new technologies would be the restriction of choices for adults and lower profits for the companies that develop the technology. This would hinder innovation in the technology industry, which is so dynamic because of the relative lack of governmental oversight. Also, it is simply not realistic to believe that bureaucrats can stay one step ahead of the cutting-edge technology sector.

Technology should not be seen as a corrupter of our children. It should be welcomed for what it is, a tool that continues to become more accessible to everyone and makes our lives easier. Despite calls from those who believe the government should act as our materialistic censor, the one stalwart force that can interpret and react to each new technology is parental supervision.

PETER EYRE

Washington

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