Blacklisting rears its ugly head
After a session [for Hollywood conservatives] featuring supply‐side guru Arthur Laffer, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, a prominent LA liberal, chastised the attendees for flirting with Reaganism. “Sheinbaum pointed his finger and said, ‘You are consorting with people who ran the Hollywood blacklist. I know who you are and I know where you work,’ ” [screenwriter Lionel] Chetwynd recalls. “It was chilling. No one came back.
—The Nation, April 5–12, 1999
The organic theory of the state
In The Nazi War on Cancer (Princeton), [Penn State science historian Robert N.] Proctor argues that medical and scientific research under Hitler produced some significant, verifiable breakthroughs.… The Third Reich promoted a series of public‐health measures that might well be called forward‐looking: banning smoking in certain public places, running an aggressive antismoking propaganda campaign, and placing restrictions on how tobacco could be advertised. Proctor asks a stunning question: Could the most extensive cancer‐prevention campaign of this century have been initiated by Hitler?…
Proctor suggests that his predecessors may have passed on this project in part because “it’s kind of an embarrassing fact. Who’s going to be interested? Even in Germany, they don’t like to see anything ‘good’ come out of the Nazi era.” In the end, he argues, “We do not want to forget Mengele’s crimes, but we should also not forget that Dachau prisoners were forced to produce organic honey and that the SS cornered the European market for mineral water.”
—Lingua Franca, May–June 1999
These are the people who manage your retirement
From $12.6 billion in improper Medicare payments to unaccounted‐for bullets and bombs, the government still does a woeful job of keeping its financial books, according to an audit released yesterday.
Surprisingly, the second government‐wide audit by the congressional General Accounting Office was praised as good news because at least things were not as bad in fiscal 1998 as they were the year before.
Comptroller General David Walker, who heads the GAO, told the panel that 24 major federal agencies do not properly account for “a majority” of the $466 billion in assets they hold.… Most government agencies do not have the basic financial controls that are commonplace in any private business.
—Washington Post, April 1, 1999
And don’t climb on the signs
Park rangers handed [Anthony Avellino] a $1,000 ticket after his daughters, ages 9 and 11, and their 11‐year‐old friend were caught climbing a Japanese white pine in [New York’s] Central Park. …
“My children have been climbing trees in Central Park for nine years,” Avellino said. “At least give me a warning.”
But officials said it was too late—the tree was damaged. …
But with no posted signs, how’s a park patron supposed to know that tree‐climbing is forbidden?
“There are lots of things that you cannot do in parks that are not posted,” [Parks Department spokesman Edward] Skyler said. “If we listed every rule, we’d have more signs than trees.”
—Associated Press, April 8, 1999
Maybe the politicians should stop inflating
House leaders began moving legislation yesterday that would double the president’s salary—to $400,000 annually—after President Clinton leaves office in 2001.…
“It’s important that we don’t presume that the president will be independently wealthy and therefore the salary is irrelevant,” [Brookings Institution scholar Thomas E.] Mann said. … There is simply no plausible reason for leaving it at a level that does not compensate for the ravages of inflation over the last 30 years.”
—Washington Post, May 15, 1999
She’s making the highways safer
Lt. Gov. Maureen O’Connor—who in a three‐month span rear‐ended one car and backed into a State Highway Patrol cruiser—is about to get a taxpayer‐financed driver.…
Along with her duties as lieutenant governor, O’Connor holds the Cabinet post of director of the Department of Public Safety, the state agency that oversees the Highway Patrol. The patrol’s primary goal is to reduce traffic accidents, injuries and deaths on Ohio’s highways.
—Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 15, 1999
This article originally appeared in the July/August 1999 edition of Cato Policy Report.