All three can be good or bad depending on how much, how and for what used. That a little bit might be good does not mean that a lot more will be better.
Many years ago, in the mid to late 1940’s and early 1950’s when I was a young boy, shoe stores had X-ray machines permitting one to view images of the bones in one’s feet. Health hazards were recognized but generally ignored.
Although most of the dose was directed at the feet, a substantial amount would scatter or leak in all directions. Shielding materials were sometimes displaced to improve image quality, to make the machine lighter, or out of carelessness, and this aggravated the leakage. The resulting whole-body dose may have been hazardous to the salesmen, who were chronically exposed, and to children, who are about twice as radiosensitive as adults. Monitoring of American salespersons found dose rates at pelvis height of up to 95 R/week, with an average of 7.1 R/week (up to ~50 mSv/a, avg ~3.7 mSv/a effective dose). A 2007 paper suggested that even higher doses of 0.5 Sv/a were plausible. The most widely accepted model of radiation-induced cancer posits that the incidence of cancers due to ionizing radiation increases linearly with effective (i.e., whole-body) dose at a rate of 5.5% per Sv.
Years or decades may elapse between radiation exposure and a related occurrence of cancer, and no follow-up studies of customers can be performed for lack of records.
Like other kids, I enjoyed playing with the things whenever my parents took me to a shoe store. I would play for as long as I could with what I thought of a great toy, wiggle my toes and watch my bones move. The devices may have helped in selecting shoes that fit well, but the benefits probably did not justify the risks. Eventually, it was recognized that such toys were potentially hazardous and by the 1970’s they had disappeared. Now, exposure to more than the minimum radiation needed for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes is considered dangerous and ill-advised. Physicians and radiation technicians make substantial efforts to avoid it for themselves and for their patients.
Penicillin and its potential therapeutic benefits in killing bacteria were discovered in 1928. By the early 1940’s it was in limited use and by 1943 ways had been found to produce it inexpensively in large quantities. The first generally used antibiotic, it was considered a miracle drug because it quickly cured bacterial infections that non-antibiotic drugs did not. However, some bacteria that had initially succumbed evolved into penicillin-resistant varieties and new antibiotics had to be developed.
In sixth grade, I developed viral pneumonia (i.e., pneumonia caused by a virus), the most common form of pneumonia in children. Antibiotics have no effect on it. Bacterial pneumonia is much more common in adults. Our family physician, like many of that era, ignorantly prescribed an antibiotic for my viral pneumonia. I got to stay home from school for several weeks.
Today, antibiotics are widely used in livestock feed.
Antibiotic use in livestock is the use of antibiotics for any purpose in the husbandry of livestock, which includes not only the treatment or prophylaxis of infection but also the use of subtherapeutic doses in animal feed to promote growth and improve feed efficiency in contemporary intensive animal farming. Antimicrobials (including antibiotics and antifungals) and other drugs are used by veterinarians and livestock owners to increase the size of livestock, poultry, and other farmed animals. The use of some drugs is banned in some countries due to food contamination or concern about increasing antibiotic resistance and what some consider antibiotic misuse. Other drugs may be used only under strict limits, and some organizations and authorities seek to further restrict the use of some or all drugs in animals . Other authorities, particularly those in animal industry, food animal medicine, and pharmacology industry, say that concerns for bacterial resistance in humans is overblown and restricting the availability of medicine is detrimental to animal health and the economical production of food.
Antibiotics, used for their intended purposes and not excessively, can do much good. Used excessively and for the wrong reasons, they can do much harm. Are the actual and potential current hazards of antibiotics over or under rated? Probably both.
The Ravenous Govblather Beast
It was eventually recognized that excessive uses of radiation and antibiotics for purposes to which they were ill-suited could cause much harm and little if any good. Due to their potential dangers, uses of both are now more restrained than in the recent past. Excessive use of Government, however, generally seems to be viewed differently — particularly by those in Government, by those not paying for it and by those who benefit from crony capitalism. Increases in governmental intervention show no sign of abating. Yet the dangers, actual and potential, of excessive control by Government are substantially more apparent now than were those of the unlimited use of antibiotics and radiation a few decades ago. Perhaps having too much Government is seen as impossible because “we all belong to the Government.”
I adhere to the old notion that the Government belongs to us, rather than the reverse, and that we already have far too much of it.
Some Government programs have worked
Lately, the same environmental, labor and “climate change” laws and regulations that impede private enterprise have also impeded governmental efforts to limit the consequences of governmental blunders. Once upon a time, those impediments were uncommon. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were not subject to them because such impediments either did not then exist or were still relatively innocuous. Both programs were reasonably effective New Deal ways of dealing with a depression.
was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In much smaller but more famous projects the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.
Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency. The WPA’s initial appropriation in 1935 was for $4.9 billion (about 6.7 percent of the 1935 GDP), and in total it spent $13.4 billion.
At its peak in 1938, it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men and women, as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration. Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided almost eight million jobs. Full employment, which emerged as a national goal around 1944, was not the WPA goal. It tried to provide one paid job for all families in which the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment.
was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25 as part of the New Deal. Robert Fechner was the head of the agency. It was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).
The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. Principal benefits of an individual’s enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation’s natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.
During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.
The Hoover Dam, constructed between 1931 and 1936, was another Government project that achieved the desired results.
The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc., which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before, and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and the lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.
In addition to flood control, “the dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California.”
The Hoover Dam project, WPA and CCC were substantially unencumbered by the massive and increasing legal and regulatory impediments now imposed on the private sector, which played major roles in causing, and continue to prolong, the current recession and its effects. ObamaCare now also does its “fair share” in screwing things up. When President Obama claimed that He would quickly provide many “shovel ready” jobs to help end the current recession, He apparently did not consider the likelihood that many of those same impediments would drastically limit the numbers of “shovel ready” jobs. Has He at least considered the possibility that many of the same factors that denied Him the “shovel ready” jobs He sought and promised have increasingly had similar impacts on private enterprise?
President Obama has talked about the problem, but talk coupled with inconsistent action has been far less costly for Him than it has been for the nation. His administration continues to make it worse. For those who think that worse is better, more Executive Decrees are coming.
Obama on Tuesday will direct the Labor Department to adopt regulations requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data based on sex and race. The president will sign the executive order and the presidential memo during an event at the White House where he will be joined Lilly Ledbetter, whose name appears on a pay discrimination law Obama signed in 2009.
This week’s steps showcase Obama’s efforts to take action without congressional approval and illustrate how even without legislation, the president can drive policy on a significant segment of the U.S. economy. At the same time, it also underscores the limits of his ambition when he doesn’t have the backing of Congress for his initiatives.
Republicans maintain that Obama is pushing his executive powers too far and that he should do more to work with Congress. His new executive orders are sure to prompt criticism that he is placing an undue burden on companies and increasing their costs.
Federal contracting covers about one-quarter of the U.S. workforce and includes companies ranging from Boeing to small parts suppliers and service providers. As a result, presidential directives can have a wide and direct impact. Such actions also can be largely symbolic, designed to spur action in the broader economy.
. . . .
Federal contractors . . . worry that additional compensation data could be used to fuel wage related lawsuits, said James Plunkett, director of labor policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Litigation is increasing as a cost of doing business. As a recovering attorney, perhaps I should be happy for my former brethren; I am not.
What’s more, he said, such orders create a two-tiered system where rules apply to federal contractors but not to other employers. Those contractors, knowing that their business relies on the government, are less likely to put up a fight, he said.
President Obama, who has declared this a year of action whether Congress supports him or not, very likely has many more Executive Decrees in gestation.
Prospective employers want employees who show up on time for interviews, have needed skills, “can-do, will-do” attitudes, are willing and able to be flexible and who want the available job. Such employees are hard to find. Might the dismal labor force participation rate be part of the problem?
According to Glen Hubbard, author of the linked Wall Street Journal article, Dean of the Columbia Business School, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush and an economic adviser to Republican presidential candidate Romney,
As I see it, the policy response to our disturbing doldrums in the labor market has indeed struck the wrong balance. Whatever can be said for shorter-term measures to jump-start job creation and business activity, it seems clear by this late date that our problems are in no small part structural. What we need most urgently is to rethink the federal government’s wider role in the labor market. [Emphasis added.]
It’s an interesting analysis and well worth reading, agree or disagree with all or parts of it.
Some environmental, labor and other laws and regulations — like some antibiotics and some radiation, in appropriate doses administered for valid reasons — can bring beneficial results. When used to excess, without due regard for the consequences and/or for the wrong purposes they, like antibiotics and radiation, can bring highly detrimental results. Has it occurred to the Obama Administration, our CongressCritters and the regulators they empower that, even if they consider their motivations good, they often do more harm than good? Probably not. Has that occurred to “We the Voters?” It had better, but will it?
Finally, and just because I like her and we need her!
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Very well said, Dan. All I would add is that even more federal regulation will further shrink the pool of contractors that are willing to put up with the restrictions (and paperwork overload) that goes with it. It has simply become another form of crony-capitalism (or my preferred term: Corporatism) because nobody who wants to do an efficient, cost-effective job can bear to deal with it.
Government does have a role to play, but it needs to be a bit player, not the star of the show.
Thought you would, Dan.
When we did things like the WPA and CCC, it was easy to fill jobs with people who wanted to work. These days, there are a bunch of unemployed folks who would rather sit on their butts, collect welfare, text on their Obamaphones, and smoke and snort their way through the day. Why should they give all that up for a job, where they have to go to work on time, take orders from a boss, and behave responsibly?
By the way, I’m not much of a Palin fan, but at this point even she would be a better president than Obama.
There are, as you say, quite likely many fewer now who want to work. That’s part of the problem. However, to the extent that the Government considers itself or its contractors bound, even moderately, by environmental, labor, affirmative action, equality of result and other similar laws and regulations (and, of course, interpretations of them), even when willing and able workers can be found it has problems similar to those experienced by private enterprise in getting work done.
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