You Can't Even Talk About It (from ABC's 5/8/09 interview with ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava)

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This press release from ABC News's John Stossel announced his scheduled one-hour show for Friday, March 8, 2009 -- with the final paragraph mentioning his interview of ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava:

This Friday at 10 p.m. ET, I have another "20/20" special, "You Can't Even Talk About It." We tackle touchy taboos, like:

AMERICA NEEDS TO DO LESS FOR ITS SENIOR CITIZENS. You thought Bernie Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme? Medicare makes Madoff's look small. Maybe we should call Medicare: "Bernie Madoffcare." When Medicare was created, seniors didn't live as long, and medicine offered fewer wonderful but expensive treatments. Now Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy. Government has promised seniors $34 trillion more than it has funded. It amounts to generational theft, says Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute. "The government spends around $6 on seniors for every dollar it spends on children, and yet the poverty rate among children is far higher than it is among seniors." I confront seniors about it. Some said, "We've paid our dues" and "Every paycheck, money was deducted." But, in fact, today the average Medicare beneficiary collects 2 to 3 times more than they paid in. Why do even wealthy seniors feel entitled to free Viagra? When I gave them the facts, some seniors revised their positions.

PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS. To protect pregnant women, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It makes it illegal to fire, or not hire, or pay a woman less because she is pregnant. Today, employers are even warned not to ask in a job interview: "Are you pregnant?" or "Might you start a family?" If the new law was supposed to end discrimination, it hasn't. The number of pregnancy discrimination complaints is on the rise. I argue that the law does more harm than good, because from the employers' perspective, many pregnant women cannot work as hard -- and it turns pregnant women into "lawsuit bombs." Carrie Lukas, a pregnant vice president of the Independent Women's Forum, says, "Sometimes the laws that are intended to help women like me actually end up hurting women like me. All of a sudden, a potential employer is looking at me and thinking ... 'she just might turn around and sue us. That makes it less likely that I'm going to get hired.'"

THE BEST WAY TO SAVE MANY ENDANGERED SPECIES IS TO EAT THEM. International bans on the trade of rare animal parts (tiger organs, elephant tusks, rhino horns) have been about as successful as the international war on drugs. Why? Because wherever there is a demand strong enough, market forces overwhelm law enforcement. Terry Anderson of PERC, the Property and Environmental Resource Center, claims that governments have repeatedly failed when they tried to save animals by banning their sale -- it failed with the Colobus monkey in West Africa … with the alligator in China … and now, with the tiger in Asia. It's quite the conceit that a few conservation groups think a government decree can change history, and get a billion plus people to change their habits. By contrast, does America have a shortage of chickens? No, because people own them and eat them. Allowing private owners to sell animals for food or tourism saved the rhino and the elephant in Africa, and the bison in America. It could save the tiger too, if environmental groups would drop their resistance.

RESCUING IDIOTS. Thrill-seekers hoping to surf the most difficult ocean wave, bushwhack through treacherous back-country terrain or catch the biggest ice-water fish … sometimes take unnecessary risks, disregarding weather forecasts or warning signs. If they need to be rescued, let's bill them for the cost of the rescue. New Hampshire does that. I confront the rescued, who say "no!" tax dollars should pay.

LET THEM DO STEROIDS. After years of hand-wringing over 'roids in baseball, the Olympics, and other sports, isn't it time to acknowledge that athletes will always look for ways to get a competitive edge ... and instead of treating them like children, let them go ahead and JUST DO IT? Dr. Norman Fost, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin, says many fears about steroids are bunk. I had been told that the "wrestler" who beat me up years ago was "high on steroids -- "roid rage." Later I learned that he said his boss told him to hit me, that steroids had nothing to do with it. Likewise, wrestler Chris Benoit's murderous rampage, and Lyle Alzedo's brain cancer may have had nothing to do with steroids, despite the media saying that they did. "The horror stories about the medical claims … some of them are just frankly made up," Fost notes. "We don't stop people from eating lemon meringue pie … People everywhere take enormous risks way greater than even the hyped-up risks of steroids." Health issues aside, what about sportsmanship? "I don't know why you would think this is cheating any more than the hundred of other things athletes do to enhance their performance," Fost said. We allow athletes to sleep in hyperbaric chambers. Tiger Woods improved his eyesight to 20/15 with surgery. "Janet Evans won a gold medal in swimming," Fost noted, "and bragged about a greasy swimsuit that she was sure had a lot to do with her victory."

RADIATING FOOD MAKES IT SAFE TO EAT. The CDC says that every year, millions of Americans get food poisoning. 5,000 die. Last month President Obama told us the fact that 95 percent of food is NOT inspected by the FDA, is "… a hazard to the public health … " But he didn't mention that there is one way to make food safe: irradiate it. Irradiation means moving food though a stream of ionized energy… it's a little like X-raying it, but with more power. The point is to kill bacteria. And it works. Irradiated meat stays fresh twice as long. Irradiated strawberries last up to three weeks on the shelf. But media hype and small scare groups have made people wary of food irradiation. Ruth Kava of the American Council on Science and Health says the anti-irradiation movement is all about ignorant fear of radiation.