The right in LaLaRouche land

I just spoke at an event organized by the UQ Greens to discuss emissions trading. There was lively debate over the relative merits, and prospects for success of emissions trading, carbon taxes, and direct regulation (my views here).

Things were made even livelier by the attendance of some LaRouche supporters who explained, as usual, that emissions trading was a genocidal plot by the British Royal Family. On an issue like climate change, LaRouchites represent the extreme fringe of rightwing opinion, taking the usual conspiracy theories about grantgrubbing scientists and environmentalist plans for world government into utterly paranoid territory.

But the traffic isn’t all one-way. On the issue of DDT, a lot of people buy a watered-down version of the LaRouche theory presented in LaRouche’s 21st Century Science by Gordon Edwards back in the early 1990s, according to which the US ban on agricultural use of DDT in 1972 produced a global ban on the use of DDT to fight malaria, costing millions of lives as part of a genocidal eco-imperialist plot.

Tobacco lobbyist Steven Milloy, looking for a stick with which to beat the environmental movement, used his junkscience site (then affiliated with the Cato Institute) to push Edwards’ LaRouchite fantasies, including the claims of genocide, but (doubtless in deference to conservative sensibilities) without the usual LaRouche link to the Royal Family (Milloy’s genocide clock is here). Roger Bate of AEI later took up the same line with great success, though he has backed away from it more recently.

But who would be stupid enough to fall for the second-hand propaganda of a nut group, recycled by the tobacco industry ?

(Answer over the fold)

1. An incomplete list of prominent rightwing commentators and institutions buying the LaRouche line on DDT (I’ll update this and add links as I get time)

Australia: Andrew Bolt, Centre for Independent Studies, Miranda Devine Institute of Public Affairs, Jennifer Marohasy, Christopher Pearson, Ian Plimer, Quadrant


AEI[1], CEI, Cato, Fox News, the Republican Party, the Wall Street Journal etc etc


Monckton, the Spectator, Spiked/RCP[2]

2. A complete (AFAIK) list of rightwing commentators and institutions who explicitly reject the LaRouche line on DDT and criticise its advocates

(This line intentionally left blank)

I’d welcome any additions to Group 2. Also, rightwingers should feel free to write in explaining why LaRouche is right on DDT, or why your version of the DDT ban myth isn’t really the LaRouche/Milloy/Bate version (which will qualify you for an asterisk). But special rules apply for this post. Real names and country of origin required so your name can be added to the list. Anonymous/pseudonymous comments in support of the DDT ban myth or apologising for its advocates will be deleted.

[1] It’s interesting to compare the 2004 piece linked above, blaming the 1972 US ban on agricultural use for millions of deaths, with this from 2007 which, while still pro-DDT, is more or less factually accurate, noting “Although many believe that DDT was banned after 1972, it actually was not”. Unlike Milloy, Bate has responded to criticism by backing away from some of the more extreme claims.
[2] What is it with the right and crazy ex-Comms/Trots? The Revolutionary Communist Party (now Spiked) showed a parallel evolution to LaRouche from far left to far right, but treated with much more respect for reasons I can’t fathom.

136 thoughts on “The right in LaLaRouche land

  1. @Ubiquity Maybe you should reread the post before commenting. Any quote or piece of evidence in support of the rightwing view on DDT has been selected specifically to sucker you, apparently with some success. Check on your sources – you’ll find that your “evidence” goes back to Milloy, Bate and LaRouche, who have used exactly the same selective (mis)quotation of evidence to push claims that passive smoking is harmless, along with many other lies.

  2. I think the very great Keynes said it best:

    Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong…

    …Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make the provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.

  3. I may have cherry picked and quoted some “looneys incorrectly” (my apologies for not reading your post as I was distracted by other commenters), and yes other reasons for rationing DDT may have been legitimate,such as minimising resistance. It still dosen’t take a way from my major point of the unintended consequences of large scale state action which I gather social democracy tries to mitigate by its means and libertarians by theres.

  4. @gerard
    I hope the irony of choosing a communist country (the so-called “Peoples’ Republic” of China) to attempt to make a point is not lost on you.

    The point to which you allude was intended to counter the fallacious claim by Michael of Summer Hill that the uninsured are denied medical treatment in the USA. My own opinion on this is that if someone enters hospital grounds needing assistance, the hospital does to a certain extent become responsible for their well-being (although you would be surprised at the number of medical practitioners who feel they have a duty to, you know, help people). At the same time, hospitals should be entitled to recover the costs.

    Besides, going to casualty and not being treated happens in this country, even with Glorious State-Run Medicine. So no guarantees there.

    Besides, when was the last time you were charged admission to see a doctor or a dentist? Generally you see the doctor and then settle your account afterwards, which doesn’t necessitate paying on the spot. The point is, these people study hard and work long hours to provide a good service, and they should be remunerated well and treated with a bit of respect, instead of having preachy left-wingers barge into their practice whinging about their “rights”. They could just as easily stop practising medicine, pack it all in and become investment bankers, which we can all agree would not be in anyone’s best interests.

    Nothing you have said justifies a bloated public health care system. Seriously, if you people concentrated on measures that would bring the costs down, instead of concentrating on the spurious benefits of glorious “Universal Coverage” (not much good if it’s universally bad) we might actually be getting somewhere.

    Anyway, the topic at hand was DDT, so I don’t wish to derail this thread any further.

  5. yes, you need to go to “communist” China to find an example of “free-market” heaven health care system. ironic? not really, after all, it’s only in a dictatorship that a population would put up with a “no money=no healthcare” system like that. same goes for most of Right “libertarianism” – it will never be accepted in a democracy, because it implications are so repellent.

    China: when you turn up at the hospital, you pay on the spot. The doctor prescribes the most expensive medicine whether effective or not, because they receive kickbacks for each prescription. Women are given cesareans unnecessarily because the hospital knows they can charge 4 times the price. Why can’t our system be more like that? What freedom! A is A!

  6. @gerard
    Wu Jinglian, Chinese economist, “Understanding and Interpreting Chinese Economic Reform”:

    “The most visible sign of the mismatch between the two reforms [of medical insurance and medical service management] is that over the past years, the practice of allocating medical service resources by the administrative control system as was under the planned economic system has never changed; resources have been highly concentrated in big cities in the form of state-owned hospitals while small and medium cities and vast rural areas have been in severe shortage of resources. At the same time, the entry of domestic private capital and foreign capital has been stringently restricted. The government operates ordinary medical institutions (i.e., nonpublic medical facilities) that are supposed to be business operations, resulting in a great amount of public resources thrown into them without fully meeting their needs. Yet private capital is forbidden to enter the medical service market. Such institutional distortion and restriction on market entry result in a persistent shortage of medical service and therefore increases the cost considerably.”

    Personal attack and coarse language deleted. Nothing more like this, please. JQ

  7. Sea-bass. You appear to be in violation of the comments policy regarding sockpuppets. Please explain yourself, or face an immediate and permanent ban.

  8. One should look at a real example of a free market in action — a place where people are genuionely free of the oppressive hand of government … Somalia …

    Somalia is the only country in the world where there is no government.

    Seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote that “life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, if there is no central authority.

    Few Somalis have probably heard of Hobbes but most would agree with his description – except for “solitary”, as family and clan ties remain extremely strong.

    The last government, of Siad Barre, was toppled in 1991. So what is life like after more than a decade without a government?

    those interested in the libertarian dream can read on …

    Living in Somalia’s anarchy

  9. MoSH,
    Perhaps you should do some reading. This for example. The US healthcare system, which you are so dismissive of (as, I might add, am I) is one of the largest government run systems in the world, spending more in tax revenue per capita than, say, the UK.
    You keep using it to try to prove that privatised systems do not work – and yet it is a poster boy for the complete and utter stuff up that comes from the government spending so much.

  10. Here’s som more on living the libertarian dream in the Horn of Africa …

    Somalia: Free market Wasteland

    It’s not all bad. Apparently the phones are pretty good by African standards abnd there are internet cafes … and the lack of government means criome and theft is out in the open so there’s no corruption. That’s a good thing right?

  11. This is obviously a thread derail, and I wont continue it, but distinguishing feature of China’s public, state-owned hospitals is that they are for-profit operations, and provide the only example that I have personally seen of what happens when Emergency Rooms are not legally obliged to treat patients – which seemed to be Sebastian’s main criticism of the US system. Restrictions on private investment really don’t make a difference in this case, unless the private investment in question is from a charity.

  12. Andrews Reynolds, just go and read Ezra Klein’s piece entitled ‘Ten Reasons Why American Health Care Is so Bad’ and you will get a better understanding as to what is happening in the USA.

  13. @Andrew Reynolds
    Andy thats truly a pathetic comment and in your link – read the extent of the “uninsured” amongst working age males even living in households with income in excess of 50,000 K US.
    Medicare, generally covering citizens and long-term residents 65 years and older and the disabled.
    Medicaid, generally covering low income people in certain categories, including children, pregnant women, and the disabled. (Administered by the states.)
    State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for low-income children who do not qualify for Medicaid. (Administered by the states, with matching state funds.)
    Various programs for federal employees, including TRICARE for military personnel (for use in civilian facilities)
    The Veterans Administration, which provides care to veterans, their families, and survivors through medical centers and clinics.[60][61]

    So Andy which of these US government run programs do you actually object to?

    The one for low income aged who have probably worked and paid a greater proportion of their income as taxes throughout their lives than the CEO of Goldman?

    The one for low income children, pregnant women and the disabled?

    Or is it the US war verterans you want to tell to get off the public teat Andy???

    Why dont you make yourself useful and find a way to wean the extremely wealthy off the tax break / tax cut / tax evasion teat Andy.

  14. @jquiggin
    Sorry JQ, I just wanted to stop using my full name and instead opt for a nick-name; many of your bloggers have already cottoned onto my “change of identity”. I didn’t think I needed to ask for permission, given that I’m using the same email address.

    To be fair to me, Sea-bass and Sebastian are pretty similar. And if I really wanted to change angle, I would’ve changed my email address as well.

    OK, that’s fine

  15. @gerard
    I agree this is a thread derail, so I won’t continue further, but I would like to point out that Gerard misses the point of my argument, despite the fact that I pointed out why I made the point to which he now refers.

    I did not argue that hospitals should not be legally obliged to treat people that come onto their property. I brought that up to point out that Michael of Summer Hill’s claim that people were denied care if they did not have insurance was not true.

    What I was objecting to is the characterisation of the USA’s healthcare system. While it has many flaws, and while we may disagree on the solution, it quite simply is not a free market system by definition.

  16. Sea-bass/Sebastion, people are denied proper treatment in the USA because the increase in uninsured has drained public hospitals to near bankruptcy. And unless you have private insurance you will be denied treatment in private hospitals.

  17. ProfQ,

    As a proud right-winger I am angered by your statement that the contrarian view of DDT is somehow a “rightwing view”. I think you have a tendency to overstep the mark when you venture into issues around what other people believe and you should reflect on that.

  18. No, I dislike the fact that you have to attribute political labels to people in a poor effort of linking their views in to a broad-based church.

  19. @SeanG
    SeanG, don’t get angry, get even. Point me to examples of prominent rightwingers setting out the truth on DDT, and criticising those who push the LaRouche/Milloy line.

    At this stage, even finding people and institutions on the right in the US or Australia who have avoiding retailing anti-science arguments on DDT, AGW etc would be a big achievement. Last time we tried, I think the only name we came up with was that of Richard Lugar. Are there more?

  20. SeanG, if you are angry because JQ points out the deficiencies with right-wingers quoting out of context then thumbs up for JQ

  21. @jquiggin

    It’s said that Senate Republican Lindsay Graham is moving to support Waxman Markey … others who may be coming on board include:

    Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) …

    McCain pays lip service …

  22. Fran Barlow, the latest on Copenhagen suggests governments will agree on a structured deal but the technical details will be finalised allowing the US and others a bit more time to overcome any domestic impediments.

  23. @jquiggin

    Just because you have a group of nutters does not mean that they are representative of the entire spectrum of right-wing thinking. Look at all major centre-right parties in western Europe – they accept climate change instead of turning red at the mention of DDT.

  24. It will certainly be great to see some Republican votes for Waxman Markey (only 8 in the HoR and these RINOs copped a furious backlash). he
    last post set a rather higher bar of explicitly repudiating all the main forms of delusionism.

    For the moment lets stick to DDT and look for examples of US or Australian rightwingers taking a pro-science line.

  25. Sorry Fran Barlow, but after technical details will be finalised I should have added ‘at a later date’.

  26. Malcolm Turnbull? Christopher Pyne? George Brandis?

    Then again, they are on the liberal-side of the Liberal Party.

  27. I googled all three of these names + DDT and came up with nothing. That is, Turnbull and the others haven’t spread the DDT ban myth but neither have they repudiated it. The same is pretty much true of AGW delusionism – they “accept” the science, but they don’t defend it against their colleagues.

    Still, it’s broadly speaking true that this wing of the Liberal Party doesn’t import its views from the US, unlike the right wing of the Liberals (Downer was quoted as saying he watched Fox news to get in touch with reality), the libertarian movement (as represented, say, by ALS), the Oz, Online Opinion, the rightwing commentariat, and the main rightwing thinktanks (CIS, IPA and the Evans/WMC front groups like Lavoisier).

    I entirely agree about the European right. This is essentially a cultural/tribal issue for the US/Oz right, not an ideological one.

  28. DDT is not a political issue and it is wrong to think it is. Climate change is a political issue while DDT is an example of climate change activism.

    The problem is that climate change suits big-government and big-state parties of both left and right-wing persuasions. The libertarian streak is more pronounced in the Australia and US right than in the European right.

  29. What I mean by the “political issue” ProfQ, is that it is written by those who disagree with climate change as an example of environmental extremism while those who agree on climate change view it as an irrelevance.

  30. gerard@#23 October 16th, 2009 at 18:24 says

    when it comes to your favorite hobbyhorse, the highest stakes are the comfort of people like yourself in assuming the general inferiority of blacks and women.

    so it might make you feel better as a Right-winger to pretend that there’s some sort of equivalent level of “denial” going on, but in fact the comparison is a pretty pathetic stretch.

    I would like the opportunity to respond to gerard’s comment. I realise that Pr Q wishes to close the subject, so far as intellectual debate is concerned, for the time being. Thats within his rights.

    On the other hand gerard’s comment contains a number of factual errors and personal slanders which grossly misrepresent my position and intention. It is unfair to me to let these stand without giving me the right to correct and rebut.

    I do not play the man, I play the ball. And when I play, I play fair, quoting chapter and verse and always letting the other man have their say.

    That is all.

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