CIVIL DEFENSE PERSPECTIVES
May 1996 (vol. 12, #4) 1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1996 Physicians for Civil Defense
If someone wanted to produce a generation of illiterate, dependent citizens, groomed for serfdom, he would not begin by outlawing schools. The people would rebel.
A more effective strategy would be this: (1) demand universal, compulsory ``education''; (2) set up a massive, voraciously expensive system that devours wealth that might otherwise be used for private schools; (3) create a licensed and credentialed elite with a vested interest; (4) require endless mind-dulling exercises; (5) forbid, discredit, ridicule, or simply omit the teachings that formed the great minds and solid citizens of the past (from phonics and the multiplication tables to the Ten Commandments, the Constitution, and Shakespeare); (6) discourage individual initiative, force students to work in groups, and intensify peer pressure; (7) set up new standards and tests to enforce the goals of the new system and ``prove'' its success.
Suppose that the goal was to destroy independent medical practice and gain control of the means of extending life and reducing pain and disability-thereby ensuring dependence on government-sponsored agencies. What strategy might work?
One would not call for rationing, but for ``universal access''- through a gatekeeper. One would promote universal prepayment for ever more extensive and expensive ``coverage.'' One would deplore ``fragmentation'' and call for ``vertically integrated networks.'' One would demand increasingly intrusive and repetitive ``credentialling,'' expanding it to include adherence to new, committee-dictated norms. One would require endless ``documentation.'' One would ridicule the Oath of Hippocrates and set up ``Ethics'' Committees to approve what Hippocrates forbade. One would direct physicians to predigested, peer-approved ``practice guidelines'' and discourage independent study of the medical literature. And one would mandate CQI (``Continuous Quality Improvement'') to enforce compliance and ``assure quality.''
There are impediments to achieving national ``standards'' for (and federal government control of) education and medicine: private schools, home schools, and private physicians. Most of these have been at least partly coopted because they have taken the bait of government subsidies. But the potential for opting out still exists and is becoming more attractive as government schools degenerate and the atrocities committed by government-favored ``managed care'' plans become known.
Socialists have long recognized the importance of sealing off private escape hatches, through which the more ingenious and productive citizens tend to evade centrally planned rigidity. So far, government has lacked the tools for finding all the refugees. Or for doing anything about the dissidents once they are known-most of them being conscientious, law-abiding citizens.
The problems faced by would-be totalitarians are rather like those faced by a would-be invader: finding the key targets and wiping them out, preferably by methods that appear legitimate or accidental, and with weapons that pass undetected through radar or are unrecognized due to decoys.
The Information Superhighway is a great potential tool for surveillance, once the needed records (educational and medical) are entered into a networked computer. Then one needs tools to gain ``cooperation'': economic coercion, and ultimately the penalties of criminal law.
While news anchors and politicians chatter about decoys (e.g. a 90-cent increase in the minimum wage), two bills sponsored by Senators Kassebaum and Kennedy, which provide for federal control over all education, job placement, and medical insurance in the U.S., have passed. They are stalled in conference, but there is pressure to report them out before too many people learn of their content.
ØThe ``CAREERS'' bill (H.R. 1617), creates a national computer data base and a ``seamless web of opportunities'' (or lack thereof) on a blueprint authored by Ira Magaziner and Hillary Clinton. All ``human resources,'' even home-schooled students, would have to obtain and periodically renew a certificate documenting proper ``higher order reasoning and work attitudes'' to obtain employment (Blumenfeld Educ Letter 5/96, DeWeese Report 5/96).
ØSilently slipped into a bill for improving ``insurance portability'' (H.R. 3103), which passed the Senate 100 to 0, were about 100 pages from the defeated Clinton Health Security Act that could criminalize almost any medical act:
×``Administrative simplification'': fines of up to $25,000 per year for failing to enter required medical data in proper computer format....
×Federalization of all ``health care offenses,'' such as incorrect coding on insurance claims or provision of ``medically unnecessary services''....
×Five-year prison terms for anyone making a false statement to a health-care plan, with conviction possibly based on his own medical record....
×Draconian fines, imprisonment for one year, five years, or life for ``federal health care offenses,'' plus forfeiture of assets on conviction, with ``no proof of specific intent'' to defraud required to convict....
Under this legislation, private physicians would basically be putting their liberty and everything they own on the line by filing insurance claims. Probably, many would flee to managed-care capitation contracts, where they would simply face the prospect of bankruptcy or ``deselection'' if their practice fell outside the norms. Many would simply retire. (Those tempted to leave the country, take note: tax penalties for expatriates are also tacked onto this ``insurance reform'' bill.)
Could it be that the charges that could destroy the foundations of the American way of life have already been set, without ever triggering an alert from a Distant Early Warning System?
Hitler's propaganda minister once informed him that he didn't need to worry about reports of the concentration camps leaking out: Nobody would believe them.
It may be difficult to believe that legislation such as that described above has passed a Congress that was supposed to roll back the tide of big government. Perhaps both Congressmen and citizens turned their radar off when the Berlin Wall fell.
Technology in the hands of would-be totalitarians is a potent threat. But it also has its uses for defense. Today's civil defenders can start by reading legislation on line, at http:// thomas.loc.gov. And the vigilant now have better ways to sound the alarm than hanging lanterns in the Old North Church.
What decentralization means to the reinventor of government, Vice President Al Gore, writing on the editorial page of Science, April 12, 1996:
``In the beginning of the mainframe computer era, computers relied almost totally on huge central processing units.... Then along came a new architecture called massive parallelism. This broke up the processing power into lots of tiny processors....When a problem was presented, all of the processors would begin working simultaneously, each performing its small part of the task and sending its portion of the answer to be collated with the rest of the work that was going on. It turns out that this `distributed intelligence' approach is more effective for solving most problems.''
Gore thinks ``it's a shame'' that this revolutionary idea hasn't made it into politics. He advocates taking the path to the ``learning society,'' which harnesses ``distributed intelligence'' (under the guiding hand and funding of government).
The alternate path leads to the ``know-nothing society,'' which ``bases regulations on suspicion instead of science, says that DDT isn't harmful, and claims that global warming is the empirical equivalent of the Easter Bunny.''
Standardized Outcomes-Based Prophecy
A report from experimental subject Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., who practices neurology in Jamestown, NY:
``Central planners are able to predict outcomes with uncanny accuracy using well-designed and well-researched standardized forms and tests....I was recently leafing through some things my dad saved from my grade-school days and found the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The central planners who designed the test were considered infallible and by looking at the pattern of scores, they knew what you were best suited to do. One of my teachers made a comment that I would be lucky to graduate from high school.
``I decided to do a little `Outcomes Research' to see how the predictions actually turned out. The occupations I had `sufficient ability to be successful in' included: parking lot attendant, weiner packer, and hosiery looper. They did get a few at least partially right. Given the fact that I now spend most of my time shoveling `moose poop' generated by Medicare bureaucrats, I suppose they were right in predicting success in occupations such as sewage plant attendant. But they were wrong about my being a successful claims clerk-can you imagine me working for the Blue Bunglers?
``On the other side, the central planners told me I did not have the ability to be a physician. In fact, looking at ``Aptitude G as a Predictor of College Success,'' I didn't even reach the minimum value to be successful in junior college.
``I wonder how many people were actually `guided' into their occupations based on these tests.
``The central planners still retain a very high opinion of themselves, even today. The Clinton Health Security Act, for example, was loaded with central planning, such as methods to determine the `proper mix' of specialists and generalists, and who should be encouraged to pursue which area of medicine.
``The whole problem with convincing others of the validity of standardized guidelines and protocols is the tell-tale `Central Planner's Reflex'. When you hold their feet to the fire by comparing actual outcomes with predicted outcomes, their faces invariably turn red.''
DDT and Alligators
Speaking of basing regulation on suspicion....
Among the reasons for ``knowing'' that DDT is harmful are the alligator abnormalities in Lake Apopka, Florida (see Nov., 1995, issue), featured in the book Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn and others. In the book's foreword, Al Gore writes that it ``raises urgent and compelling questions.''
The DDT effect was apparently ``discovered'' only in the 1990s, long after DDT was banned. The alligators, however, were in trouble in 1955, when they faced heavy loads of citrus processing wastes, fertilizers, and sewage effluent. Many died of infection with Aeromonas liquefaciens, a bacterium that dissolves the internal organs of marine animals.
But male rats have puberty delayed by five days when forced to ingest DDT metabolites in an amount about 100,000 times higher than average human intake in the 1960s. Therefore, redistributed, parallel-processed intelligence could easily identify DDT as the culprit in alligators, even though alligators in other lakes with equivalent amounts of DDT are doing just fine.
[Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, Professor of Entomology, San Jose State University, will review the alligator story and regulatory atrocities at the 14th annual DDP meeting in Salt Lake City.]
About 25% of adults, most of them educated in government schools, got passing scores on a recent survey by the National Science Foundation. Only 47% knew that it takes the Earth one year to go around the sun (rather than one day or one month). The NSF, of course, is itself infallible, as it determines whether others know the effects of ``a thinning of the ozone layer'' (which is assumed to be happening).
Distributed Regulatory Costs
U.S. businesses spend about $600 billion per year complying with all the rules and laws imposed by government. The cost is disproportionately high for small businesses. For firms with 500 or more workers, regulations cost $2,921 per worker. For those with 20 to 499 workers, the costs average $5,195 per worker. For those with fewer than 20 employees, the costs are about $5,545 per employee. A poll by the National Manufacturers Association showed that 52% of mid-sized firms consider government regulation their biggest challenge (NCPA Policy Digest 4/30/96, email@example.com).
The average time from chemical synthesis to marketing a new drug has more than doubled since the mid-1960s, from six years to almost 15 years (ibid.) [The effects of FDA policy will be discussed at the DDP meeting by Hoover Institute Fellow Henry I. Miller, M.D.]
Meanwhile the number of high school dropouts has not yet doubled: 8% of eighth graders failed to complete high school in 1978 and 12% by 1992 (ibid.), despite the creation of the federal Department of Education by Jimmy Carter.