Bob Wilson on

Misguided Liberal Programs


Yet another example of why liberal programs that throw money at "problems" just don't work:

Buried in the small print in the deep recesses of The Arizona Republic there is an Associated Press "filler" article--that is, one of those little articles in the corner next to a half-page advertisement. The headline is "Officials bar release of baby mortality data." Odds are , not one reader in 100 will even see this article, but it is illustrative of one of the biggest problems in our nation today. Infant mortality?? No.

Since the 1960s, (some would argue since FDR) and the introduction of LBJ's "Great Society" our government has been propelled by liberal social engineers to expand into solving every perceived flaw in human existence. An ideology has taken hold that says basically, the government must correct all social ills, and only those of the liberal persuasion are allowed to determine what constitutes an "ill." Our lawmakers have been ingrained with the idea, and the election process is geared to the concept that spending heretofore incalculable sums of tax dollars to "fix" social problems is justified by the noble end it must produce. Entitlement programs have blossomed to existence for all sorts of reasons, from "ending homelessness" to "ending hunger." The liberal media has helped insure that virtually any bill that pours money into a social project, regardless of the actual chance of having any effect on a perceived problem, becomes an imperative to which opposition from a conservative politician means political suicide.

In the past thirty-five years, conservative estimates are that over four trillion tax dollars have been spent on "programs" which, though well intentioned in their inception by most accounts have had little or no impact at all on the problems which they were supposed to solve. Four trillion is a number that is, to coin an overused liberal expression, OBSCENE! Few college graduates can even pencil out the correct number of zeros in a trillion.

Those over the age of 45 like to reminisce about how things were in the "good old days." We remember 30 cents a gallon gas, 15 cent hamburgers, new cars that cost $1500, new homes which were well appointed, and under $20,000. At that time it was reasonable to expect to graduate from high school or college and start a family, find a job, and have a pretty fair shot of buying a home. This, while earning enough "after tax" dollars to support that new family, complete with children, on one income, all while still in their twenties, or early thirties. That prospect is not nearly as likely now in 1997. Yes, there were poor people, and in some parts of the country, there were people who needed assistance beyond that which was forthcoming from the existing government social welfare system. Who would deny that providing a handout to these people until they got "on their feet" was the right thing to do?

The question one must ask of a liberal today is: "Since 1962, and the expenditure of four trillion dollars to repair our social ills, end hunger and poverty, elevate our human condition in America, has the ratio of poor people to well-off people significantly changed in the positive direction? Or, have things gotten worse?"

Enter the era of the "advocate."

There entered upon the American political scene a new breed of "social worker." Where once, a "Florence Nightingale" was a fairly rare and idealized character, there came into existence a new breed of political/social activist. Once the economics of advocacy became apparent, that is, it became a profitable career field to tap government "programs" for profit, hoards of professional "advocates" arrived on the American scene. They usually acquired names that became buzzwords for venues into the tax coffers. Most popular among the monikers were organizations, which were called "Centers." The "Center for homeless assistance" or The "Center for Infant Health" or The "Center for (name a social/political cause) blah, blah" seemed to work the best. These "Centers" are usually nothing more than direct spinal taps into government tax veins. Workings at their helms are individuals or committees whose prime focus is the art of acquiring funding from the government. They achieve "non-profit" status, but their people make very good salaries. They, with the aid of liberal politicians and a sycophant media have soaked the American people for the aforementioned four trillion dollars, and counting. While it is a popular myth among that crowd to point to the national debt expansion in the 1980 under Ronald Regan, in fact, entitlement programs and social spending are the real cause of the expansive budget and deficits since the late 1970s.

Back to the newspaper article:

So, "Officials bar release of baby mortality data."

It seems in the early 1990s, there came into being, a program to spend only $500 million (that's one half billion for you non-math majors) called t= he "Healthy Start" program. (What politician could oppose giving a poor child a "Healthy Start" right?) Its announced goal: to "reduce infant mortality rates by 50 percent in poor communities." Along with that program, the government, in it's wisdom spent a paltry $4.5 million with a company called Mathematica Policy Research Inc. that was supposed calculate the effectiveness of the "Healthy Start" program. According to the Associated Press, "Researchers from Mathematica were set to present the preliminary data at Wednesday's American Public Health Association conference in Indianapolis" when federal officials ordered then not to.

According to the "Federal officials" the data are misleading. Dr. Earl Fox, acting administrator for the Health Resources Services Administration concedes that infant mortality while dropping in the "targeted areas" has remained the same as in those areas where the money was not spent. Not at all the type of data that bodes well of the =BD billion dollar expenditure. Not to worry liberal social advocates--I am certain that another $4.5 million research project can be funded which will spin new, more politically acceptable data.

Fascinating, is the media reaction to this typical debacle. Small print, back page news. The fact that there is a law called "The Freedom Of Information Act" (which, if interested, a news organization may invoke to force the government to reveal the actual statistics) is not used by the press in scandals such as this is high irony and news by itself. Who will report it though?

Why fascinating? Consider a military expenditure of the same half billion-dollar range, wherein some contract issued for the development of a new weapon was a total failure and there was no accounting for where the money went. What if the military then said, "we don't want to release any information on this project, because we don't like the analysis results of the test data"? How would the press react, regarding the "Freedom of Information Act." Hmmm, I wonder?

Ah, the beat goes on!

Bob Wilson is an Arizona businessman and pilot who contributes regularly to The Ethical Spectacle.