Fumento fumes

Michael Fumento is piqued because nobody paid any attention to his ludicrous and childish dare to us, DemFromCT at DailyKos and Tim Lambert and MadMike here at SciBlogs:

Okay guys, put your bucks where your blogs are! Ten to one odds for each of you; each gets to pick the amount in question. I say the year 2008 will roll around and there will be plenty of terrible problems in the world, but pandemic avian flu won't be among them. Naturally some of these anti-scientists have insinuated that somebody must be paying me to say pandemic avian flu is a bunch of bird droppings -- that's also how the alarmist game is played; if you can't counter the facts, attack the messenger. Well this time I am going to make some money! Or at least try. If the year-long period sounds a bit short, keep in mind that it's our paramedic friend who suggested it and that I've been writing about pandemic avian flu alarmism since my "Chicken Little Gets the Flu" article in the Wall Street Journal in January of 1998 -- yes, nine years now. They've had their time. (Michael Fumento at Right Wing News)

Nobody took him up on it because for us avian influenza isn't a game or a chance to make a couple of bucks. I only posted on him because he had again achieved his 15 minutes of infamy with a widely circulated article on why we shouldn't worry but be happy about bird flu. His piece was full of the usual half truths and selective "evidence" (which he didn't even get right) we've discussed many times here. Fumento is a notorious example of those corporate servants who have made a career out of, as PZ put it at Pharyngula, being a Chicken Belittle. His only interest in avian influenza is as a vehicle for self-promotion, which he needs even more now that he has been canned from his job as a Scripps-Howard columnist for not disclosing a conflict of interest with mankind's benefactor, Monsanto.

It is ironic he accuses Tim Lambert of being a "troll." In internet-talk, a troll is someone who enters an established community such as blog or forum and intentionally tries to cause disruption, often in the form of posting messages that are inflammatory, insulting, or off-topic with the intent of provoking a reaction from others. As far as I know Tim Lambert has never done anything remotely like that. But Michael Fumento has, on this very site. More generally, Fumento's tactic is troll-like in that he takes an important science topic and writes deliberately provocative screeds to divert the conversation and more importantly, to cause confusion.

One of the most important blogger rules about trolls is that you don't feed them. Which is why I was so reluctant to even post on his bullcrap. He isn't serious about the subject and it is fruitless to engage him in substantive discussions. It is just "feeding the troll." However, for the record I discussed all the points he raises in his article many times here. We don't ignore the many uncertainties. One of the biggest is whether and when we will have the next influenza pandemic and what the subtype and strain will be. No one knows, as we and virtually every flu expert has said. Will it be next year? We don't know. Has it already started somewhere? We don't know. Will it never happen? We hope so but don't know. Here and here are two of the many places we have discussed it in these terms.

This is some of what we said in the first of those links:

When we first began to cover the bird flu problem -- back in 2004 -- it wasn't being discussed much anywhere, including the blogs. We started talking about it for two main reasons. First, it seemed to us, as it seemed to many informed public health scientists, that this was a possible freight train coming down the tracks. We didn't know then (nor we know now) how far the train was, whether it would get all the way to us or how fast it would be going if it did get to us. But we could feel the vibrations on the tracks and we knew enough about train wrecks of the past to worry. That was the first reason.

The second reason is more complex. For us, the response (or lack of response) to the genuine possibility of a pandemic of influenza from an avian subtype that had already shown itself capable of infecting humans to deadly effect, was a grotesque metaphor for failed public health leadership, both in our on country (the US) and most everywhere else. The US CDC was preoccupied with a phantom bioterrorism threat and remodeling the agency and US public health in general to respond to the Bush administration message: "be afraid, be very afraid."

And here's some of what we said in the second:

Any epidemiologist will tell you that trying to read the tea leaves with this much data is fruitless, although it doesn't prevent just about everyone else from trying. There are more cases, true, but there is also a lot more virus around. H5N1 has spread to poultry and bird populations in a wide geographic area. We don't know whether it has changed in lethality or not. The same can (and should) be said of transmissibility.

But we are in a bird flu earthquake zone. People in California who know they are living over a fault zone, we don't know and can't predict whether The Big One will happen today or tomorrow or in ten years, or conceivably never. In California they still build their buildings and bridges to withstand earthquakes that have happened in the distant past and may or may not happen again and who knows when. They don't write news stories about "fear of earthquakes overblown" or "what ever happened to The Big One?" for good reason. The conditions for an earthquake haven't gone away in California and people still feel tremors regularly.

Just consider the bird flu case counts and poultry outbreaks another form of tremor.

And rebuild your public health and social service infrastructures "to code."

Fumento's argument about the subtype being around since the fifties is red herring. Some form of H5N1 has probably been around for longer than that in some ecological niche amongst avians. What is different now is that it has invaded new niches, including terrestrial birds (poultry) and mammals including humans. The virus has changed in ways we don't understand but we now have a panzootic on our hands and the threat of a pandemic is not only plausible but it would be lunacy to ignore it. But Fumento is a lunatic. His argument amounts to saying that California hasn't had The Big One since 1905 so we shouldn't build on the fault zone to mitigate the damage should one occur tomorrow or the next five minutes. Making a bet that it won't happen in the next year is just plain stupid. No one knows and it's not relevant.

These are just two of many examples. We didn't bother to respond to most of his points because we have discussed them literally hundreds of times. Here are some links for those who want to satisfy themselves this is so. It's only a sampling.

His thought that we can prevent a reassortment by vaccinating farmers asia and southeast asia and keeping them away from feces, which he claims is the only source of the virus, is equally stupid. No, stupid doesn't really describe it. I'm not sure there are words for it. Deliberate attempt to mislead, is the best I can do. See some of our discussion of these matters here and here.

Characteristically he over interprets the ferret reassortment studies he cites. One of our posts on the subject here. He probably hasn't read the paper he cites. The same with the "deep in the lungs" study he touts. A couple of our posts on this here, here and here. Regarding the high case-fatality rate, we have discussed this so often I wouldn't even know where to begin in giving some links. Here and here are two examples. This post is also on the subject and contains six more links to our posts on the subject. We discussed the Annals of Internal Medicine report Fumento cites as evidence that the case fatality ratio is really .71% here. We took it seriously at the time, but closer examination indicates it had serious flaws regarding recall bias and since then much better evidence has failed to turn up the mild and inapparent infections most of us thought must be happening based on our experience with seasonal influenza. This has been very sobering, although not for Fumento whose only interest is to pluck out a paper to support his point. Regarding his claim that Vietnam had avoided the problem by vaccinating poultry, we know the answer to that.

This post would become impossibly and ridiculously long if I went through all of Fumento's scientific distortions one by one. He believes Tamiflu and a non-existent vaccine is going to save us. Again, the subject of abundant discussion here and elsewhere. Even if they were effective, Fumento and his anti-government comrades have so destroyed the public health infrastructure in the US, our ability to capitalize on it is doubtful. There is as yet no vaccine and an effective one is years away. This too has been discussed ad nauseam here. Whatever scientific advances we will be lucky enough to have if and when there is a pandemic, none will be thanks to, or made easier by, Michael Fumento who has made a career out of denigrating just those people who have spent their lives producing them, like Robert ("über-alarmist") Webster, the dean of the world's flu virologists.

The supreme irony is that Fumento, a loyal Bush-man, blames public health advocates for scare-mongering and misallocation of resources for the sake of Bush bashing and making money. To which I have only two words in reply: Iraq, Halliburton.


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I've debated (with myself) whether to post anything about disgraced columnist Michael Fumento's rantings that bird flu was a "Chicken Little" story (literally: it's entitled, "Chicken Littles were Wrong"). It was published in the far right rag, Weekly Standard, where Science is a dimunutive figure…
The third of the recently diagnosed H5N1 cases in Egypt has now died, bringing that country's total to 18 cases with 10 deaths, the largest outside asia, southeast asia or Indonesia. The case count for 2006 now shows more cases (114) and more deaths (79) than any previous year. And the virus was…
Readers who are regulars at Effect Measure or Deltoid will be familiar with the opinions of attorney and author Michael Fumento. Fumento considers himself an avian flu "skeptic," and recently issued a "challenge" (the title, "My avian flu challenge to the leftist bird-brained squawkers", might…
Currently estimated bird flu case fatality ratio remains catastrophically high, somewhere around 60%. This may or may not be an accurate estimate. Case fatality is the ratio of cases that die to the number of people diagnosed with H5N1 infection. If we are missing many cases then our estimates of…

Well, at least one good thing came from all of this. Fumento accused Flu Wiki of peddling bird flu products in his diatribes. On Crawford Kilian's blog his provided 'proof' was spam he discovered buried in the News and Links page.

Thanks to his bringing it to my attention, the spam links have been removed. It's too bad the fellow is so obnoxious. Editing is a useful community function,and spam is a problem everywhere.

As for what else he wrote, it's all drivel. You and Crawford have given him more time and attention than he deserves.

When it comes to trolls and how to handle them, I would suggest that corporate shills deserve special attention. The random unpaid troll should not be fed. But if someone is getting sponsored to mount a disinformation campaign, that is a different matter.

Systematic anti-science campaigns are a serious problem, and warrant a serious response. Revere's post is a good example.

Two camps on this. Either you are a Revere person that agrees with him that something very, very wicked this way comes. OR you are a Fumento type, that believes that we are pissing mney down an endless pit of doom and false destiny.

M. Fumento can rant all he wants. There is no question that something statistically is just around the turn and there isnt much we can do about it. Everyday i get at least one to three requests for preparedness lists and I dutifully send it out, make a new friend or two in doing it and together we fine tune it as best able for their situations.

So what if it doesnt come Mike? Will we have a nation better prepared, maybe a little more able to save one or two more? For the first time in our history we have the ability to change the outcome in a disaster. No one, no agency and no part of government could have done anything or stopped what was inevitable in New Orleans. They were warned, they didnt heed it and many paid with their lives. While local and state government haggled with the federal government as to who was going to be in charge when the disaster was federalized and the state government didnt sign the requisite order for three days, people died. I wonder if that little bit of legalese was worth the numbers?

I can safely assure you Mike that I see dead people, and lots of them. As they go they will blame anyone and everything for the inadequacies of government, their own preparedness, and really their own stupidity. How many people will you kill Mike by telling them that there isnt a thing to worry about? Then suddenly, out of Asia the word comes that its out and on its way and you will sit back and pontificate that its an isolated incident. Then the first US cases hit and then its all over with but the shouting.

People look to the media for information, reassurance and even the bad news when its there. There hasnt been anything but bad news on this stuff and Mike you choose not to write about it. This is one where you err on the side of worst case because each person who reads your stuff and doesnt prepare will get hit either by the flu, starvation or face extreme hardships in suvival. It could be mild but it hasnt been so far. Your articles make an assumption, I as a HARD CORE Republican think you are wrong as do many of my state and federal elected REPUBLICAN representatives. They hide behind the curtains because its not popular to bring attention to the fact that as Revere says it will cut us down like a lawnmower. Bird flu will end the occupation of Iraq, prevent the invasion of Iran and create problmes for the US for at least three generations if it comes. So who is the Chicken Little here? You for saying its not coming, or Revere acknowledging that this or something else will statistically clean our clock in the next 10 years. Common sense dictates that you are wrong Mike.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 15 Jan 2007 #permalink

The more attention that you give Fumento the more money he makes while the sun shines. Why waste your time.

In your 4th paragraph you have:

We hpoe so but don't know.

hpoe => hope

"... a grotesque metaphor for failed public health leadership...in the US and most everywhere else..."
Yes, thanks for the summary of the story, Revere.
I can only add it's always sad to see someone having a severe personality disorder like Fumento being launched in the media causing a lot of damage and consuming our costly time. He is only one lunatic without any common sense like there are many walking around. I can't help wishing to confront him in my fantasy with a lot of sad situations when a pandemic has come, but we'll see. I don't have the illusion these lunatics will be cleaned up by then; some will survive. And they won't shut up even then, and never say: sorry...
IMO Revere and Randy summarize very well how disconnected this guy is when asked to show a little reality testing.

There are things I could call this guy, but in every case it'd be insulting to the thing I called him.

By SmellyTerror (not verified) on 15 Jan 2007 #permalink

Revere, your frustration is palpable, and understandable. Unlike Mr. Fumento, you're not primarily concerned with being right. You know the stakes here are bigger than blogosphere (or newspaper column) bragging rights.

It's admittedly not always easy for non-public health professionals like myself to see the big picture, but you are patient and persistent in pointing out the guideposts. Whatever our widely differing perspectives and outlooks, nearly everyone who posts here is concerned and looking to understand better.

Mr. Fumento is not only not concerned, he is not genuinely interested. If I were in your shoes, I'd find him infuriating as well.

if his locals keep an eye on him, he's eligible for draft into their local Mortuary Reserve Corps; save him a cart and a shovel... if he isn't among the first load

By crfullmoon (not verified) on 15 Jan 2007 #permalink

Who says bird flu is a bad thing?

Humanity is in need of a good culling. And after the global pandemic, the oil, gas and other natural resources will last longer than currently projected.

Fumento is no doubt in need of attention and enjoying this.
Well said caia: Whatever our widely differing perspectives and outlooks, nearly everyone who posts here is concerned and looking to understand better.
Truth and the sincere desire to know truth, or even understand it, can take several twists and turns until that moment that we actually find it, or believe we have.

"... a grotesque metaphor for failed public health leadership...in the US and most everywhere else..."

When enough people understand this, Haliburton, Monsanto, et al will no more be permitted to take what they consider to be their fair share of GWP.

Fumento is not a lunatic. He is merely doing his job. I suspect he has been mislead regarding retirement benefits.

In Australia we have a journalist called Phillip Adams. More than a decade past he widely proclaimed to the Australian people that AIDS was a disease strictly limited to homosexuals and drug users. Heterosexual transmission was nearly impossible.

Adams is still around, but some of his more gullible heterosexual listeners probably aren't.

I see people like Fumenko and Adams as Darwinism at work.

Those in the public who listen uncritically will not take the simple precautions that would more than halve their risk. I understand the desire that the liberals amongst us express to have these people muzzled. Unfortunately, censorship will produce an even greater evil.

Seems to me his motives are fairly transparent.

If you accept that pandemic avian flu is a significant risk, then a few things follow:

One, we need to radically improve our public health system.

Two, such improvements must necessarily include means for detecting a pandemic as quickly as possible when it reaches us.

Three, detection requries zero-barriers access to clinics where people can be tested and treated regardless of insurance or other status issues.

Four, clinics with zero barriers to access would provide a stunning contrast to the remainder of the American health care "system." This would be highly disadvantageous to the parasites (two-legged) who are presently raking in the moola from the present "system."

Five, in order to leave the parasites (two-legged) attached to their hosts (also two-legged), it is necessary to prevent any kind of competing publicly-funded health system from being established.

Six, item five above leads directly to opposing improvements in public health detection and treatment systems, and that in turn leads to opposing ANY rationale for creating such a system, and the last point necessarily requires denial of large-scale public health threats, in the present case, avian flu.

Thus we have Fumento's fuming. I suppose the threat of bioterrorist attack isn't enough to motivate Fumento, for which he should be accused of being soft on terrorism. But since that's unlikely to get traction until the event occurs, I would suggest looking for health insurance industry money in Fumento's pockets, and traces of health insurers' "DNA" in his throat and rectum, or at least on his clothes.

bar: The practical problem with allowing your "Darwinism" to take its course is that people who accept Fumento's arguments do not live in separate universes from those of us who reject them as specious. Such people populate our neigborhoods, our media, and our governments. To the extent that he succeeds in spreading disinformation about H5N1, or succeeds in creating resistance to improving public health (or merely quashes support for it), he negatively impacts the communities and countries of which we are a part. (Even if we don't want to cop to being with "those people.")

As for your other comment, I don't think Revere was advocating censorship per se. (I could be wrong.) There's a big difference between wishing someone would just shut up and calling for them to be censored. One could, however, make a reasonable argument that publishing Fumento's remarks on H5N1 as if he were some form of authority, without rebuttal, is somewhat irresponsible, in the same way that publishing the writings of global warming "skeptics" is irresponsible. But that's a matter of editorial prerogative, which is exercised all the time without it being censorship.

g510: I was admiring your post as a model of logical insight, right up until the end. ;)


In your first paragraph you seem to be implying that a large community could (if they would only do what you suggested) overcome H5N1. As Revere & others have said there would be a breakdown of civilization and government would be irrelevant if H5N1 spread like a normal flu & even 5%~ 10% of cases were fatal. I can not imagine what preparations you could suggest that would significantly reduce that risk.

So, in the long run, you wouldn't achieve all that much by stopping Fumento. In the meantime, my best advice is email J.R.Kruger or look on flu wiki for the preparations that you can make.

I had a shot at predicting the likely effects of global warming back in March 2005, and many of my predicted effects are now mainstream.

Unlike the greenies, I am unconvinced that the intermediate or long term effects of global warming are an unmitigated disaster for the human race. Like the H5N1 scenario, I do not believe that there is anything significant that we can do about global warming.

Brownie points to AF (above) for pointing out the morbid advantages accruing from the H5N1 pandemic scenario.

bar, caia: I do not advocate censorship under almost any circumstances (I am not an absolutist, but the standard should be stringent). I do believe that bullshit should be called bullshit and it's OK to say someone is mean spirited if they are mean spirited, at least in the writer's estimation.

Regarding a break down in civilization with a pandemic, no, I don't think that the world will descend into a Mad Max post apocalyptic anarchy. I think it would be much like 1918 or SARS in Toronto in terms of public reaction. I agree with bar there is nothing much we can do to prevent a pandemic but with caia that there is a great deal we can to do manage the consequences.

bar, I don't think you have much to worry about regarding climate change. It will be your grandchildren that have to worry. Again, it won't be the apolcalypse. It will just be a much harder and more difficult life than it would be without climate change. Is that what we want for your grand children?

the funny thing is, that Fumento is finally right
and revere wrong, despite all the previous "discussion".
This _is_ finally being decided by such "bets", through
the insurance companies, financial markets, mortality bonds,
government fundings.
And Fumento is right, that these do indeed consider the probability of a pandemic in 2008 as smaller than 10%.
The medical people should not complain that their voice isn't being heard, when they refuse to give and discuss
their estimates, when they refuse such bets.
When you were a government or company official and
you see, that you can refinance your position and
funding and preparation through the financial markets
with a certain win, what would you do ?
Buy birdflu insurance or invest the money in antivirals
and masks which you could buy in even larger amounts
with the payment from the insurance , even if prices are
expected to explode ?

I am not a government or company official.

Furthermore, those particular two never bet except when they think it was a sure thing to their advantage and my disadvantage.

Fumento may be right regarding their best game-plan, but he is wrong regarding mine. He is their servant, not mine.

A private person, that is, not an official shill (I know nothing about the person discussed) can make a lot of money out of presenting arguments that induce people to deny the reality of change or threats - the list is long - bird flu, peak oil, global warming, population, etc. thereby preventing preparedness, discussion, community / Gvmt. action and so on.

Denying these types of 'events' - hypothetical picutres of the future - is to my mind most strange, those who have much will be the first losers. The 'denial' attitude has become a political badge for business as usual that moves blindly forward, which shows once again that politics no longer concerns itself much with fundamentals, such as the organization of society, redistribution, health care for all, etc. and that it has become corporate like - uncannily resembling that of failed conglomerates like Vivendi, Enron, Swiss Air, etc.

9/11 ushered in the dire threat of terrorism - people were advised to go shopping! And to protect themselves with duct tape and stock up on bottled water.... That threat was hyped to the skies.



Thanks for the response. Agree unreservedly with first + second paragraph, except uncertain what you mean "managing the consequences". Does "mtc" result in (mostly) saving the lives of those who ignore the risk because they uncritically believe Fumento?

On global warming. I'd point out that nobody knows whether the effect sum of consequences will be favourable or unfavourable. In my judgement, favourable.

Developments in world society worry me. Any trend or event that concentrates or centralizes political power is (imho) v.v.dangerous.

A comment on bets. There are people think that somebody who is more prepared to "put his money where his mouth is" thereby proves the point.



On further thinking about the "breakdown" scenario. Mad Max and sequels were produced in Australia, (typecast scenery & extras I suspect). We had outlaws ("bushrangers" in Australian) operating around my home near Trunkey Creek about 100 years ago. To me, Mad Max is not far removed from reality.


1) Is it not true that during the Spanish Flu pandemic there were local breakdowns of government in USA? Likewise Montreal?

2) More generally, would you expect the social response to an H5N1 pandemic that had killed say 5% up to 25% of the total population to be comparable in quality and duration to the social response to SARS in Montreal, or Spanish Flu during wartime censorship.

Bar-re the breakdown. The interconnectivity of all societies on this planet might indeed bring it down if we have anything greater than a 1918 type of scenario. We can handle with difficulty a slam bang 5% event and thats what they are preparing for. I am told though that anything over that and that is US-8%. and we would be in deep doo-doo fast. That 8% would have to happen suddenly though and not stretch out over say two years. 8% in a four month scenario would be terribly hard to adapt to almost impossible in fact. It would screw us up here big time especially in the ability to produce food. You kill even one family that runs a a thousand acre farm and its going to create big problems. Crops that dont get planted mean long term effects.

On the other hand if say an aboriginal tribe in the outback had no infections, and no vectors show up on their door step they would simply say, "what pandemic?" They are already prepped because thats what they do. Self sufficiency is going to be the key. Preppers will rule the earth and that means people that are a lot better at preserving it than the current world crew. I dont accept any arguments from anyone that would assert that buying a diamond when someone lives on 2 bucks a day somewhere else is wrong. This is based on an assumption that being successful is a crime or that you should have something you have earned, taken away and given to another. Thats legalized theft as far as I am concerned. Ana is right and wrong. She is right to question it in todays view and things like Enron happened because the law wasnt being enforced. He view=No attacks in several years. But what if they had turned around and popped a nuke in Bonn? She would be sitting in a mountain cavern or a hole somewhere wondering where her next meal would be coming from. Its not a slam at her. Fumento capitalizes on the realities of today only. Its not here, its not easily infectious (but I think thats changing fast), but if you read his stuff the world is going to continue to turn just as it always has and everything will be just peachy. History past and as of late has been proving him wrong.

Not really. If the event happens would have to have a 120 day supply of food for the entire world. There is a 40 day or so supply now. Even if we were allowed to move about we would still have to live hand to mouth because of the distribution disruption. This is my rub with Fumento. We absolutely MUST prepare for at least a four month event, maybe six. I am aiming for a six months supply now for fuel, water etc. Why? Because history is proving us all full of shit lately. I sent Revere a graphic from the UN several months ago showing the uptick in disasters, famines, tornados,.earthquakes. They have been monitoring them since the turn of the century by varioius organizations. That graphic in 1976 started turning straight up on occurences starting in 1976. We cant put that on global warming or voodoo or anything else. It is happening for all occurences. The old saying to the parents was, "Is it worse now than it was when you were a kid?" The answer

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 17 Jan 2007 #permalink


Thank you, more or less what I thought.

So, basically, unless we set up a diktat & muzzle Fumento et al & appoint Revere the dictator of health, then (if H5N1 eventuates) Darwinism will function efficiently. Those who listen to Fumento & do not set aside food & water and other things on list will have reduced survival chances.

I have no argument with that. Of course I feel sorry for the children & dependents, but it is definitely not the job of government to censor opinion, no matter how ill advised.

My reasoning is as follows. I am actually bit dubious about all the people who worship God a bit different to me. We are speaking here about those people's immortal soul, not just their death by H5N1. I think that before we censor Fumento, we should muzzle all the holy men and writings of all pagan religions, including all the varieties of Christianity to which I do not subscribe.

(above paragraph said tongue in cheek)

Of course if somebody wants to make survival packs and sell them after H5N1 hits, well that's free enterprise, or charity or whatever.

caia... If you want a list send me an email to


The director of DHS here in Mempho tooled it up and its being floated around DC now as the one that they are sending out to their people.

Anyone else should feel free to email for it too.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 17 Jan 2007 #permalink

"This is based on an assumption that being successful is a crime or that you should have something you have earned, taken away and given to another. Thats legalized theft as far as I am concerned."

I think you're missing, MRK, that "private property" is a man-made social institution and not otherwise a part of nature. I personally think it's a good social institution, but only if every member of society is guaranteed access to the fundamental necessities of life (assuming there is enough fundamental necessities for everyone, of course). That means a job that pays a livable wage if a person can work (although I am opposed to wage and price controls on businesses that haven't received government assistance) or livable disability payments if he or she can't. Otherwise I think the concept is simply not conducive to social harmony as it leads to deprivation and coerced transfer of wealth. I don't think that refusal to pay taxes, however, should be punishable by imprisonment but only expulsion from society.

How does that hit you?

Not a part of nature. Try to steal fire from a caveman and he would crack your skull and all the natives in your village Jon. The assumption made that something regardless of social order or class that belongs to someone else, should be taken and given to you because of whatever problems there are in your social order is nuts. Livable wage? Run down to Mexico and demand that they pay their people a livable wage. Its not possible. They have millions of unemployed. They will also demand that you leave or they would imprison you for being a dissident. In the lowest common denominator society, when someone couldnt work they were simply left to die. Eskimo's up until the turn of the century when the practice was stopped by the US and Canada, left their old out on the ice for the polar bears. It was a ritual passing. Social Security of the system. Do I advocate that? No, but the ability to provide free lunch to everyone in the US is about to go out the window. So we inflate economy, the money becomes worthless and urps, they just tax us more and the interest rate goes to J. Carter days at 20% or better.

Coerced transfer of wealth... another term for stealing. Expulsion from society? So does that mean that we get to throw the illegals out? Look this one is about Fumento, lets stay on target here.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Jan 2007 #permalink


Can't resist this one.

The solution for social welfare etc. is quite simple, and an American called Henry George (see wikipedia) stated the solution over a century ago.

Property (real estate) is actually tribal or community property. The definition that Economists invented is that "somebody fenced off unowned land, and thus took possession of it". But the people of the USA purchased most of the USA (Louisiana etc) so those people who "own" land actually RENT it from the rest of the people of the USA.

So solution follows. Collect the maximum rent from renting the real estate that is the USA, and distribute that income equally to everybody in the USA.

Of course the transition would take decades. It might require rewriting the constitution. However it's my bet that with that much income, (I would guess at least $10,000 per capita in today's money) no citizen need go hungry, or require charity, or not be housed. There would still be a lot of people who for personal reasons (culture, upbringing, macho) would feel the need to contribute to society, to better themselves, attract better mates etc. etc.

If you don't think it will work, think before you question. Henry George thought the system would also solve the "boom-bust" economic cycles. I think I know most of the "buts", but the space to anticipate them all isn't really available on Revere's blog.