News and Analysis (May/June 1998)

Author: 
Compiled by Medical Sentinel Editors
Article Type: 
News and Analysis
Issue: 
May/June 1998
Volume Number: 
3
Issue Number: 
3

Cloning Humans and Harvesting Organs in the Brave New World

Since the Associated Press and the Sunday Times of London announced last Fall that British researchers had created a frog embryo without a head, many scientists have expressed the view that new techniques could lead to human cloning and, eventually, to assembly line human transplantation procedures. Last October, Oxford University Professor Andrew Linzey, an animal ethicist, com-mented: "It's scientific fascism because we would be creating other beings whose very existence would be to serve the dominant group." Moreover, he said, "It's morally regressive to create a mutant form of life."
His comments were particularly apropos for on Oct. 17, 1997, The Macon Telegraph announced, "the birth of the first U.S. baby born from frozen eggs." And earlier this year, Chicago physicist, Dr. Richard Seed announced his intention to clone a human being. Whether Dr. Seed himself has the ability or technology is questionable, nevertheless, there is no question human cloning is a possibility in the uncertain brave new world of the 21st Century.
But, what is really on the horizon? In February 1997, British scientists reported the birth of the first cloned mammal - Dolly, the sheep - produced by placing the nucleus of an adult sheep cell into an egg which subsequently developed into a copy of the adult sheep. This genetic feat sparked a worldwide debate into the possibility of human cloning reminiscent of the 1970s movie "The Boys From Brazil" in which Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele clones children with the genetic material preserved from the remains of Adolph Hitler!
More recently, a New York Times article (Jan. 30, 1998) has reported pointed criticism of the Dolly experiment and its chief investigator, Dr. Ian Wilmut of the Roslyn Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the possibility of error for "failing to mention that the adult sheep from which Dolly was cloned had died several years earlier." And thus, "[i]ts absence prevented any direct comparison between Dolly and her donor," such as the definitive acceptance of skin graft from one to the other.
Last October, the Sunday Times of London also reported that British scientists had also created a frog embryo without a head, "a technique that may lead to the production of headless human clones to grow organs and tissue [specifically] for transplants." The report further commented: "The genetic composition of grown organs would exactly match those of the patient, eliminating the threat of rejection. It would also ease the shortage of organs for transplant. Growing partial embryos to cultivate customized organs could bypass legal restrictions and ethical concerns, because without a brain or central nervous system, the organisms may not technically qualify as embryos."
Commenting on these developments, AAPS President Dr. Vernon Goltry commented: "The Third Reich has come of age. This is the ultimate blasphemy. What has the medical/scientific profession come to?"

The Era of Big Government Is Over - Or Is It?

Writing in The Washington Times (Jan. 25, 1998), "Big Government is Back," nationally syndicated columnist, Tony Snow, writes that while Congress ponders what to do with the budget surplus - some legislators want to decrease taxes, others want to make payments toward eliminating the national debt, etc. - the President, with support from the Democratic leadership, wants to go on a shopping spree. He writes: "On Jan. 6, Mr. Clinton announced a three-part plan to expand Medicare. He would open the system to people ages 62 to 64 for the nominal monthly fee of $300 and let laid-off Americans 55 and older join for $400 a month...The next day, he unveiled a $21.7 billion initiative he described as 'the single largest commitment to child care in the history of the United States.' ...On Jan. 8, he promoted national education standards - which, one presumes, eventually would be enforced by the federal government. Perhaps you detect a trend.
In just the last few weeks, the White House has gone on a suggestion spree. It has announced intentions to buy 50,000 acres of the Everglades, guarantee annual mammograms for every woman over the age of 40, expand Medicare coverage for the detection of cervical and colorectal cancer, add $865 million in grants for the homeless, collect $500,000 books for homeless children, spend $425 million connecting classrooms and school libraries to the Internet, permit early Medicaid coverage of HIV and AIDS victims, clean up Tennessee's Pigeon River according to an 'enforceable schedule,' toss $80 million into the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, encourage organ and tissue donations, double the size of the Peace Corps, promote energy-saving televisions and VCRs, and raise the pay of federal employees.
In addition, the chief executive said he wants Congress to vote next year on the global climate treaty negotiated recently in Kyoto, Japan, and come up with a plan to 'save' Social Security - presumably without altering the way it now does business. And the White House will mount yet another anti-drug crusade, beginning with a $190 million advertising campaign aimed at junior-high and high-school students." Mr. Snow has a point. President Clinton is indeed asking Americans to hand their woes over to the State and "an all-caring government in exchange for their money, freedom, and domestic tranquility" and "on the verge of piecing together an Anesthetic Society."

Expanding Medicare

On January 6, President Clinton proposed to expand the Medicare system to Americans aged 55 to 64. This proposal would constitute the largest expansion of the Medicare system since its inception in 1965. With Medicare at the brink of the abyss of bankruptcy, it would seem that this expansion would be the farthest proposal from the minds of politicians, particularly for beneficiaries who would be able to pay premiums of $300 to $400 per month. Specifically, all Americans ages 62 to 64 would be able to join the Medicare system as long as they can pay the monthly premium, and those ages 55 to 61 would have the same option if they have involuntarily lost their jobs. It appears that this new presidential proposal is part and parcel of the assembly package of the previously discarded Clinton Health Security Act of 1993, which is still being assembled incrementally, piece-by-piece, with bipartisan cooperation.
John C. Goodman and Dorman E. Cordell of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA; Jan. 12, 1998) point out that "By the middle of the next century, we'll have only one and one-half to two workers for every retiree (compared to 3.3 to 1 today)." Because people are living longer and retiring early, thus collecting benefits rather than paying taxes longer, the Social Security retirement age is being gradually lengthened from 65 to 67 beginning in 2003 and Medicare eligibility raised to age 67. Thus, this proposal - expanding Medicare - is, according to Goodman and Cordell, the "wrong medicine at the wrong time." Furthermore, "the Clinton proposal is a step backward. One of the reasons many near-retirees remain in the labor market is to take advantage of employer-provided health insurance. The Clinton proposal would encourage early retirement by removing this incentive."
The result will be that, like in Medicaid reform, whereby incremental expansion in coverage for children resulted in families dropping private plans to enroll in Medicaid; thus, these actions and reactions cancelled each other, with no net increase in the overall percent of children being insured nationwide.
Goodman and Cordell conclude: "Medicare is already on a collision course with reality...One of the features of the infamous first-term Clinton health plan was a federal takeover of the insurance of the near-retirees. Critics who thought the plan had been buried were wrong. It has risen again."
And, regarding Medicare expansion, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health, opined (The Washington Times, Jan. 18, 1998), "I'm cautious because every time Washington promises something for free, the taxpayers end up footing a bigger and bigger bill." [NCPA, Dallas, TX, E-mail: ncpa@public-policy.org]

Expanding Day Care

President Clinton also announced in early January that he intends to appropriate $21.7 billion of taxpayer's money to expand "quality" day care and thus, avert the "silent crisis" Hillary Rodham Clinton warned us about last year. Never mind a recent study by the National Institute for Child Health and Development reported in The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 1998) that "babies raised in day-care centers are often emotionally maladjusted." Despite the reporting twist given by the mainstream media essentially attempting to reassure parents about day care, the report confirms that children do better when brought up at home and are nurtured by their parents. The Wall Street Journal stated: "Under the headline 'Conclusions,' the authors wrote: '[The] amount of child-care was negatively related to mother-child interaction. And: more hours of nonmaternal care were related to less sensitive play of the mother with her child at six and thirty-six months and of more negative interactions. That is, day care can sometimes hurt children. Longer hours in day care can hurt them even more. Incidentally, these results showed up more prominently in 'nonpoverty and nondepressed mothers,' in Murphy Brown's world."
These psychological effects were compounded by the increased incidence of infectious diseases found in children in day care. A 1966 study released by the National Foundation on Infectious Diseases had disclosed that "seven million children under age 5 in day care are three times more likely to be infected than are children not in day care. Sixty percent of all employee absenteeism is to take care of these sick children." (The Washington Times, Jan. 18, 1998.)

A Politicized IRS and Abuse of Power

Writing in Human Events, columnist Ann Coulter has compiled a partial list of conservative organizations that have been audited or investigated by the IRS and, like others, including The Washington Times, points out that not only has no comparable liberal group been audited by the IRS, but the IRS itself has not even bothered to deny the charge.
In the Spring 1997 issue of the Medical Sentinel, we also expressed concerns, as news events furnished piles of evidence (reminiscent of charges of fraud and abuse against physicians considered guilty until proven innocent), that the IRS was being used against political opponents.
Ms. Coulter writes: "Tax lawyers say that individuals who make less than $50,000 a year are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be audited by the IRS. Paula Jones is a housewife, and her husband earns less than $37,000 a year. According to Investors Business Daily, IRS data indicate that Jones and her husband 'were part of the least audited income group,' with only 0.95% chance of being randomly audited." Yet, they were singled out by the IRS auditor.
She elucidates further: "Billy Dale, beleaguered head of the White House travel office, received an audit letter from the IRS about one month after the Clinton Administration fired him. Patricia and Glen Mendoza, who were pounced upon by Secret Service agents and held for 12 hours after Mrs. Mendoza said 'you suck' to the President, received a letter from the IRS one month later, threatening to confiscate their property to satisfy an alleged $200 debt to the IRS. The charge turned out to be a mistake, due , the IRS said - to a 'computer error.' Kent Masterson Brown brought the lawsuit to compel Hillary's health-care task force to reveal the names of its members. He, too, soon found himself being audited by the IRS."
Ms. Coulter ponders what the odds are of so many people critical of the president being audited by the IRS? Could this be more than coincidence - i.e., a politicized IRS and raw abuse of political power?

Waste and Abuse in the IRS

Did you know that last year, before and after the Senate hearings, the IRS was found to be extremely wasteful and a chronic abuser of American taxpayers. For example, it was found to be an abuser of private laws: 1300 employees were found to frequently browse through private accounts; of these, 93 were fired or quit, 185 were suspended, and hundreds of others reprimanded or slapped on the wrist with letters of caution. Moreover, it wasted $4 billion of taxpayers' funds implementing faulty computer systems!
Now, Congress, no longer talking tax reform, is instead considering IRS reforms by bringing in experts from the "private" sector to make IRS improvements. For what purpose? To make the IRS more efficiently abusive? The IRS should be dismantled and a low national sales tax instituted to tailor the government down to its constitutional size!

Eddie Eagle Is Not Joe Camel

Writing in The Washington Times (Dec. 19, 1997), Maggie Gallagher points out the obvious - that the cartoon characters, the NRA's Eddie Eagle and the Tobacco industry's Joe Camel are not the same character. And, yes, besides the obvious fact that Eddie Eagle is a feathered bird and Joe Camel is a humped dromedary - Eddie Eagle never picks up a gun while Joe Camel smokes and holds the proverbial cigarette.
Gallagher writes, "Unlike Joe, who hung about street corners looking silent, smoky and cool, Eddie Eagle is more of an eager beaver, a real goody two-shoes. He visits schools courtesy of NRA videos, and warns children about the dangers of guns, as in: "Eddie Eagle says, 'If you see a gun: Stop! Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.' "
Marion Hammer, President of the NRA, told the New York Times that the NRA which has spent more than $10 million to educate youngsters of gun safety, plans to sue for defamation.
The fact is as a result of gun safety programs, like the NRA's Eddie Eagle program, for 1995 (the most recent year for which data is available), there were 1225 fatal firearm accidents among the general population - a 10% decline in just one year alone. Since 1930, the annual number of fatal firearm accidents has been cut in half, even though there are twice as many people and four times as many firearms today. Among children, in 1995, there were 181 fatal firearm accidents, down by nearly two-thirds since the mid-1970s.
Gun control proponents torture the statistics to concoct and propound erroneous figures. First, statistically, they count anyone younger than 20 as a "child," because firearm-related deaths among adolescents and young adults (ages 15-19) far outnumber those among children (ages 0-14) because of the high number of 16-19 year-olds in the inner cities involved in violence and the drug trade. Second, they count not just accidents but also the far more numerous firearms-related homicides (many of which are, or are eventually ruled as acts of justifiable homicides or self-defense, but are nevertheless, added to "homicide" statistics), and suicides.

Physician-Assisted Suicide

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Constitution does not guarantee a right to physician-assisted suicide - Vacco v. Quill (1997).
Nevertheless, individual states must decide their individual course of actions as they continue a "serious thoughtful examination of the issue" - Washington v. Glucksberg (1997).
The door remains "ajar" as far as further court rulings in the near future of the uncertain 21st Century. (AMNews, July 14, 1997.)

HMO Update

On Dec. 9, 1997, the Associated Press reported (Post Journal, Albany, NY) a typical story of managed care abuses. The headline read: "HMO Settles Wrongful Death Suit Over Cost-Cutting Plan." Indeed, the Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest HMO agreed to pay $5.3 million to a Texas family who asserted that the HMO cost-containment measures had contributed to their father's fatal heart attack. The settlement was offered when it was revealed Kaiser officials established a cost-cutting plan "during an alcohol-laced brain storming session aboard a plane." And thus, the family lawyer declared the case came about "to take note of our belief that too many people are dying in their system."
Commenting on this issue, Dr. Lawrence Huntoon opined, "The policy of death by HMO is no longer tolerated by the public. Accountability for their action will be the downfall of HMOs."
Meanwhile, another AP wire story reported: "Citing Costs, Some Medicare HMOs Prepare to Cut Popular Perks." In this case, Keystone Health Plan Central of Pennsylvania had offered perks such as $10 prescriptions: No more! Once Medicare beneficiaries were enticed to join HMOs with numerous perks, and they rushed to sign onto the HMOs nationwide. Now, health plans are cancelling such perks and needed services saying they can not afford them anymore, while monthly premiums have jumped for Medicare-HMO beneficiaries from $25 to as much as $60 in parts of Pennsylvania. Yet, generally, CEO salaries remain in the stratosphere!
Some HMOs, in fact, are hemorrhaging red ink. Oxford Health Plans have not only withdrawn services, delayed payments to physicians, but have also been fined $3 million by The State of New York. More recently, the company's stock has plummeted, while the rest of the stock market has soared.
Some HMOs are losing millions of dollars or going out of business. In Columbia, South Carolina, coverage of the state's Medicare HMOs have ceased in many counties because the federal government has not paid enough to physicians and providers via Blue Cross/Blue Shield of South Carolina. Are the HMO chickens of cost-containment coming home to roost?

NOW vs CWA

Judging by the news coverage given to the radical feminist National Organization of Women (NOW) and the obsequiousness given to every utterance given by its president, Patricia Ireland, you would think this organization is number one in membership and the most prominent of women's organization. It is not! Nevertheless, what it lacks in membership (dues), it accomplishes with the revenues it receives from major CEOs of major U.S. corporations who contribute heavily in funding to this organization, presumably to ingratiate themselves with NOW (given the attention this organization receives from the news media) and hoping, presumably, that these contributions would be taken into account when they and their corporations are slapped with the ever clear and present danger of sexual harassment suits or affirmative action extortion complaints.
Be that as it may, the reality is that the largest women's organization is, in fact, Concerned Women For America (CWA), an organization that has been led since its founding in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye. This organization has a membership of 600,000, compared to NOW's estimated 250,000, although you would never guess that from the obvious disparity of attention given to them in the media.
Unlike the radical feminist agenda of NOW, CWA promotes traditional morality and strong family values, and its primary goal is to "train up a new generation of women," (Human Events, Feb. 13, 1998). Moreover, CWA's new president, Carmen Pate, says that CWA is looking for women willing to stand up against the rising tide of immorality and advocate at the state and local level policies that protect and support the traditional family."

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1998;3(3):74-77. Copyright © 1998 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

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