Another example is the EPA’s land disposal restrictions when toxins are present, whichimpose annual costs of approximately $205.5 million in order to avoid 0.22 cases of cancer annually from groundwater contamination and 0.037 cases from air pollution—that is, aboutone case of cancer every four years—and $20 million from property damage.Is a little overregulation all that harmful? The monies spent by the government on anything(whether good, bad, or indifferent), or by citizens and companies to conform to governmentregulations and policies, exerts an “income effect” that reflects the direct correlation betweenwealth and health—depriving communities or individuals of wealth, enhances their healthrisks.Wealthier individuals are able to purchase better healthcare, enjoy more nutritious diets, andlead generally less stressful lives. Conversely, the deprivation of income itself has adversehealth effects, including an increased incidence of stress-related problems, such as ulcers,hypertension, heart attacks, depression, and suicides.Studies that indicate a direct correlation between the deprivation of income and mortalitysuggest that, as a conservative estimate, every $5 million to $10 million of regulatory costswill induce one additional fatality. Moreover, society’s resources are not infinite. Former OMB official John Graham, who is now dean of the Indiana University School of Public andEnvironmental Affairs, has spoken bluntly about the need for more considered and scientificregulation. “Sound science means saving the most lives and achieving the most ecological protection with our scarce budgets. Without sound science, we are engaging in a form of ‘statistical murder,’ where we squander our resources on phantom risks when our familiescontinue to be endangered by real risks.”
Many Obama appointees who will be in a position to influence science- and technology-related issues are ideological, radical, and poorly qualified to offer sound, unbiased advice on policy. They constitute a Who’s Who of hostility to modern technology and the industries thatuse it: Kathleen Merrigan, the deputy secretary of agriculture; Joshua Sharfstein, deputy FDAcommissioner; Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator; and Carol Browner, coordinator of environmental policy throughout the executive branch. None of them has shown any understanding of or appreciation of science. Browner wasresponsible for gratuitous EPA regulations that have slowed the application of biotechnologyto agriculture and environmental problems and Jackson worked in the EPA’s notoriousSuperfund program for many years. Merrigan relentlessly promoted the organic food industry,in spite of the fact that organic foods’ high costs make them unaffordable for manyAmericans, thereby discouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables; and becauseof their low yields, are wasteful of farmland and water. While a staffer for the SenateAgriculture Committee, Merrigan was completely uneducable about the importance of genetically improved plant varieties to advances in agriculture.Where are the advocates for science and technology? The president’s nominee for scienceadviser, John Holdren, is a longtime advocate of policies to slow population growth and limitenergy use. During the 1980s, Holdren calculated that famines due to climate change couldleave a billion people dead by 2020. He now concedes that is “unlikely.” Although Holdrenwill head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, he has no history of advocacy for technology.