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Member since: 2002
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Can we have a civilized talk about the U.S. water fluoridation industry?

Fluoridation of drinking water is not practiced in any of the world’s industrially developed countries outside the “Anglosphere” of the United States, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as about half of Canada and parts of the UK.

In matters of environmental issues as well as dental health, my default position is to accept the word of scientists, doctors and trained technicians and experts. In this case, for various reasons, I happen to prefer the word of the scientists and experts guiding policy in most of the industrial countries outside the United States.

(Necessary digression: NO! I don’t believe water fluoridation is a communist plot to poison our bodily fluids, or to prevent us from having dreams. In addressing the issue of the fluoridation industry I prefer to argue from evidence, and I haven’t seen evidence for any of that.)

The following chart shows tooth decay trends for “unfluoridated” and “fluoridated” nations since the 1960s, based on the United Nations World Health Organization country index for “DMFT” – a measure of the rate of decayed, missing, or filled teeth among 12 year-olds:

For decades the DMFT index has declined radically in all developed countries. It is true, as fluoridation advocates hold, that the period of fluoridation in a few countries has coincided with a dramatic decline in tooth decay in the same countries. It has also coincided with equally dramatic declines in countries that do not fluoridate. Some countries, such as East Germany and other members of the East bloc, fluoridated and then stopped, but the decline in DMFT continued there as well.

This evidence serves to falsify the hypothesis that water fluoridation was a major factor in improved dental health, and suggests that improved dental health results from other economic factors or public health policies. Fluoridation advocates agree that the supposed dental benefits come only from topical application, which almost everyone in industrial nations, including most of the poorest of children, already perform every day with a toothbrush and a tube.

The fluoride added to drinking water is a by-product of the production of fertilizers and refined aluminum, among other goods, and is classified as a contaminant by the EPA. The producers of fluoride wastes do not pay the full price for the cost of disposing of their pollutants, however. Instead, they are paid untold millions of taxpayer dollars by thousands of communities that then dump fluoride into our drinking water.

Best known among these producers is ALCOA, which during the period before and after the Second World War played the pivotal role (along with the Mellon fortune) in selling fluoridation as a practice that benefits public health. By the 1960s, the John Birch Society, also funded by big right-wing money (the Kochs, in fact), declared fluoridation to be a communist plot, as a consequence helping to discredit any discussion of the issue among reasonable, non-paranoid liberals.

So yes, I do believe that fluoridation of drinking water in the United States stands as an example of governments putting private corporate profits before the interests and rights of the public. It's hard to quantify all the different municipal funds going into the practice (and municipalities tend to obscure by offering statistics on the supposed savings due to the benefits), but it is likely in the low hundreds of millions of dollars per year, about a dollar per capita. I say we save all that public money and put it into programs for children in poverty.


(PS - In reviewing the above, I ran across this link to a 1999 statement in which the employee union local of the EPA headquarters took a stand against fluoridation policy. Remember when that was on the news? Ha ha. http://sdsdw.org/fluoride-facts/why-epa-union-opposes-fluoridation/)

How about a program offering incomes to all workers in the prostitution industry?

Jobs, or if unavailable, basic incomes enough for a person (and their live-in children) to have a roof with good food?

Wouldn't that be addressing the problems of coercion and desperation and associated criminality like human trafficking better than criminalizing prostitution, by whatever model?

I'll note that also in Sweden, which presents what's called the progressive model of criminalization, it is additionally the case that there's a real welfare system (as well as good public education and child-care), a durable safety net on which almost everyone can rely. I suggest this probably contributes more than does the criminalization policy to the better life there for those women who are engaged in the prostitution industry, whether by coercion or otherwise.

Yes, it's about power more than science, but what about the science?

The real science, as opposed to what the pro-GMO fakers and pretend "skeptics" say, already speaks to the problems of flooding the world with BT and the like. (Apparently judges in some places are starting to get it.)

Curiously they seem to have different forms of science in most advanced industrial nations outside the United States, especially the ones not blessed with a beautiful glorious Monsanto of their own.

Honest-to-God high-tech countries ban GMOs and seem to think really bizarre things, like that micro-evolution by artificial selection actually works -- by which I mean that over-applying pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics is a really bad idea that's likely sooner or later to fuck over monoculture agriculture, if not a few hundred million people in the process. But hey, who's done the controlled study of this?! We get to find out the shocking answer about whether the theory of micro-evolution works in an uncontrolled study using the planet as the test case.

As another example, a bit off-topic, it's also the case that in almost all of these countries outside the U.S., they have this weird, pseudo-scientific idea that fluoride is not a tasty medicine for which ALCOA should receive billions in payments in exchange for allowing everyone to apply it to their teeth via its ingestion in drinking water. They actually think it's a pollutant, and don't want to pay public funds to administer it to their reservoirs. (This is why, for example, Germany's so toothless and they can't afford a dentist. They're all barefoot over there, it's shocking.)

Why does the world hate science, LWolf? Is it because they hate America?


Thanks for illustrating my point...

with your response, perhaps true (with regard to Hamas) but nevertheless entirely irrelevant to the issue of the Israeli aggression and war crimes against Palestinians (killing straight and gay ones in equal proportion, one presumes).

Or wait, are you advocating that like Israel in Gaza, someone powerful should relentlessly bomb the civilian populations of "Russia, Uganda, Iran, Zimbabwe etc" because their regimes are "virulent gay hating" and "there's no pass for sick gay haters"?

There's probably a reason your post makes no sense, like pinkwashing overall makes no sense. Because its only function is to use an injustice to distract from an entirely unrelated atrocity.

Support for Israel has a lot to do with oil...

and with the geostrategy of dominance, which is the real ideological construct within which "oil" and "Israel" can both be fit. It's about a vision for the region and the world, one backed by multiple interests.

The MIC is the biggest thing of all, as the industry executing it. It's not really "runaway," it's just acting as industries must under capitalism, grow or decline, eat or be eaten. The problem is the degree to which people accept its most fundamental premises: 1) it exists to defend nation against threat, and in its actions actually does so, and to do so must be allowed the resources and authority; 2) it's good to make money doing that as an industry.

Let's be civilized.

The "scare garbage" about providing a profit motive to third-party exploiters, defining new classes of criminal, increasing police power, filling prisons and pushing activity into "the dark" (where it is more dangerous and criminals can exploit it better) is not bunk. It is what happened already long ago with criminalization. So I suppose there's no need to fear things that at this point can't be happening in the future, since they're already so well established. Criminalization as it has been practiced has not addressed, but has mainly added to, the problems inherent in prostitution.

Even if I thought the solution you propose was reasonable, how is the solution tenable? I can offer sex for money, but I'm not responsible legally if someone takes me up on it, only my buyer is criminal? After they pay me, can I turn them in myself and testify at their trials? You say "solicitation" would be illegal (i.e., asking for it) but in common usage the word refers not just to asking for but also to offering something, with good reason. The existence of the offer is one of the essential conditions for creating the market.

Perhaps your proposal outlaws advertising, or obvious streetwalking, but there are always forms of marketing. So please clarify: Are you saying a prostitute can legally set up somewhere, making an offer and trying to persuade people to accept it (again, the common definition of "solicitation"), but anyone who then takes the offer is breaking the law? Can someone do this as a legal business? (For the sake of argument let's define this as a worker-owned cooperative with only equal worker-owners among the personnel.) They can run their own legal brothel and invite clients in, but then the clients are lawbreakers? Sounds like you could set up a brothel at the front door, leading to a police precinct at the back, and build a prison next door.

So please clarify how this proposal is supposed to work in practice.

We the people are suckers, yes.

Our power elite is not, at least in the terms of the game they play. If they cared about their own descendants 100 years from now... but they don't. They're more concerned with immediate enrichment, monumentalizing their own egos as great men, and living up to the appearance of their own bullshit about humanity.

Which is to say, it's the Saudis aren't suckering the operative policymakers on the U.S. end. Both sides in this alliance know what they are doing, and they think "the price is worth it."

As to the pinkwashing...

No one's asking anyone to move to an anti-gay country, or not to fight for the rights of gay people everywhere.

The question here is whether we should support an occupying force bombing and economically strangling all of the people in any country, whether that country is anti-gay or not. I'm sure people here would not like to see sections of Uganda indiscriminately leveled (as has happened with neighborhoods in Gaza). And statistically speaking, 5 to 10 percent of the IDF's victims are gay Palestinians.

It's great that Tel Aviv can have a vibrant Pride parade, what does that have to do with bombing Gaza? Israel is not bombing Gaza in order to impose gay rights on the Palestinians there. It's not bombing Gaza because Hamas is anti-gay. It's claiming self-defense, disingenuously. So this argument is a red herring.

The question for Americans, always, should be a simple one: Do we as taxpayers continue funding military and other support for the Israeli state? Before that, most other questions are, practically speaking, distractions.

I'm the guy on the bike and the train.

Loving it a life long, except for all the dangerous internal combustion fetish-objects driven by people with a permanent rage and firm belief in their own infallibility. (Please don't tell me your stories of Montana or wherever. I don't want to take away Montanans' useful autos. I speak of New York and Europe.)

Thanks for this article on the effects of legalizing prostitution.

I do not support prostitution as an industry or ever associate it with "utopia. I do however ask (as with drugs) what the right policy is for dealing with it.

Your link is not a study on legalizing prostitution per se. It is a study of the effects of legalization on human trafficking, and finds that such trafficking appears to increase to countries that have legalized, due to a larger market. Let's assume this is so, though such data can be questioned. (Do all countries report equally well on human trafficking, do they have the same definitions, have reporting standards been the same throughout, etc.)

Now note, from your link:

"Democracies have a higher probability of increased human-trafficking inflows than non-democratic countries. There is a 13.4% higher probability of receiving higher inflows in a democratic country than otherwise."

This is not an argument against democracy, right?

Furthermore, the article concludes as follows:

While trafficking inflows may be lower where prostitution is criminalized, there may be severe repercussions for those working in the industry. For example, criminalizing prostitution penalizes sex workers rather than the people who earn most of the profits (pimps and traffickers).

“The likely negative consequences of legalised prostitution on a country’s inflows of human trafficking might be seen to support those who argue in favour of banning prostitution, thereby reducing the flows of trafficking,” the researchers state. “However, such a line of argumentation overlooks potential benefits that the legalisation of prostitution might have on those employed in the industry. Working conditions could be substantially improved for prostitutes — at least those legally employed — if prostitution is legalised. Prohibiting prostitution also raises tricky ‘freedom of choice’ issues concerning both the potential suppliers and clients of prostitution services.”

Human trafficking must be addressed as its own evil. (Here a distinction needs to be made between forced trafficking and undocumented immigration; the latter is often called "trafficking" falsely.) Ending human trafficking doesn't require punishing prostitutes -- which is exactly what happens with criminalization, even if it's the johns who are arrested. As the article you are using also suggests.

Why aren't we thinking in terms of economic justice and opportunity and development everywhere in the world, rather than forefronting the solution of criminalizing the poor? (Criminalization will rarely make a difference to the rich either way, of course.)
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