Home > Boneheaded stupidity, Economics - General > Republicans see Ebola, think DDT (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

Republicans see Ebola, think DDT (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

August 24th, 2014

I wrote not long ago about the zombie idea that the US ban on agricultural use of DDT, enacted in 1972, somehow caused millions of people elsewhere in the world (where DDT remains available for anti-malaria programs) to die of malaria. A thorough refutation is now available to anyone who cares to look at Wikipedia, but the notion remains lurking in the Republican hindbrain.

So, with the recent outbreak of Ebola fever (transmitted between humans by direct contact and bodily fluids), the free-association process that passes for thought in Republican circles went straight from “sick people in Africa” to “DDT”. Ron Paul was onto the case early, with stupid remarks that were distilled into even purer stupidity in a press release put out by his organization. Next up, Diana Furchgott-Roth, of the Manhattan Institute.
And here’s the American Council on Smoking and Health.

Checking up, I found that Furchgott-Roth was formerly chief economist of the US Department of Labor, a position I associate with sober wonkery. Others to hold the position include Laurence Katz, Jesse Rothstein and Betsey Stevenson, none of whom have ever said anything crazy, at least to my knowledge. But it turns out that all of these, and other sensible economists I’ve heard of in this job, were appointed by Democrats, while Furchgott-Roth was appointed by George W. Bush. The only other Repub appointee I could find, Morgan Reynolds, turns out to be a truther, who believes that that the mainstream versions of the JFK assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 9/11 attacks are all lies. Since Reynolds was appointed in 2001, and left the job in 2002, he was obviously not a known truther and presumably not a known conspiracy theorist at the time, but his publication list makes it clear that he has long been a rightwing crank. He’s currently adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.

  1. Ikonoclast
    August 24th, 2014 at 16:54 | #1

    Man is the pathogen of man.

  2. August 24th, 2014 at 17:58 | #2

    Not only has no one ever banned the use of DDT for fighting malaria, it was the countries that did not restrict the use of DDT in agriculture that suffered the most from mosquito DDT resistance. One would think the fact that not only was DDT never banned for disease control but regulation was necesary for it to have the most success in controlling malaria would blow these people’s minds. However, they take great pains to ensure such facts never enter their minds.

  3. Debbieanne
    August 24th, 2014 at 21:35 | #3

    I really wish the term ‘watch their heads explode’ were true. In a non-violent lefty way of course.

  4. metzomagic
    August 24th, 2014 at 23:27 | #4

    I’m guessing the fact that a lot of right wingers don’t believe in evolution on religious grounds might have a lot to do with it.

  5. August 25th, 2014 at 01:15 | #5

    Come on Yuri and company! Mr Quiggin is obviously baiting you…

  6. Newtownian
    August 25th, 2014 at 09:34 | #6

    This morning I listened to some wonk from the CIS on why we need the Medicare copayment. It was all about reducing the cost of health by just threatening higher costs. It was another manifestation of forget the science just inhale the kool aid / ideology.

    What this moron didn’t get was the old adage a stitch in time saves nine.

    i.e. the science says if you treat something early you will have to fork out a lot less later. But this was not part of his scientifically ignorant analysis which looked at short term gain to one budget item in isolation.

    This is yet another illustration of the principle that you acquire an ideological position and fight for it no matter what the science and other analyses tells you.

    And for me another reason why the snake oil aspects of neoclassical economics need buried in a very deep hole.

    Oh yes and he fudged the problem of chronically ill people who must access health care no matter what. The logic of these people is hideous.

  7. Collin Street
    August 25th, 2014 at 09:55 | #7

    > The logic of these people is hideous.

    Maybe-just-maybe it’s best treated as a public mental-health problem rather than through political negotiation?

  8. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    August 25th, 2014 at 10:13 | #8

    @Collin Street
    Tempting and justified as it would be to incarcerate the CIS, IPA and the opinion writers for The Australian in a state mental hospital as criminally insane, it would not look good on the news. Also they have human rights although this relies on them being human, which is questionable.

  9. S. Molnar
    August 25th, 2014 at 10:33 | #9

    The “Republican hindbrain” you say? Could you explain how that differs from the Republican forebrain?

  10. Megan
    August 27th, 2014 at 19:06 | #10

    The German daily newspaper ‘Die Welt’ blamed Ebola on Russian biological warfare.

  11. August 29th, 2014 at 17:12 | #11

    “Laurence Katz, Jesse Rothstein and Betsey Stevenson, none of whom have ever said anything crazy…”

    Don’t know about Rothstein and Stevenson but Katz has indeed said something crazy.

  12. John Turner
    August 30th, 2014 at 09:46 | #12

    This is shaping up to be a good day, its nice and sunny in Inverloch and reading this blog has brought so much amusement that the day has got off to a good start. Unfortunately though the amusement is tempered by the fact that these people often wield significant power. As the earlier comment from Ronald Brak has noted, facts don’t count for much when you are dealing with closed minds.

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