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Ben Carson: Dr. No

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 10/11/2015 Edward Flattau
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How would one rate Republican presidential aspirant Dr. Ben Carson as a physician? Lights out for medical afflictions involving the brain. But when it comes to the heart, lungs, and other bodily organs, not so much. His Hippocratic oath seems to lose much of its steam as he ignores (or denies) the health benefits of the wide range of environmental regulations he repudiates as excessive.
It is important to understand we are not talking about red tape rules that create burdensome superfluous paperwork for businesses and the general public alike. At issue are regulations designed to protect people from the harmful health effects of industrial pollution that infiltrates our air, land, and water.
Doctor Carson maintains that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overregulates commerce to the economy's detriment. In principle, he would relax or dispense altogether with a broad assortment of federal environmental rules.
"The EPA should be a research and technology coordinator," Carson says, "not an armed police force. We need to find ways to stop its regulatory mandates."
It should thus come as no surprise that among the many environmental "mandates" that Carson adamantly opposes is the EPA's (and President Obama's) climate change mitigation plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Here is Carson's big problem. The EPA's anti-pollution regulations that the retired surgeon condemns as onerous are ultimately aimed at keeping us out of sick beds. For example, government scientists estimate that EPA's power plant rule will avert annually 1700 fatal heart attacks, 3600 premature deaths from respiratory disease, and thousands of asthmatic attacks in children.
[As for the economy, recent studies make a convincing case that whatever expenditures are incurred in combatting global warming-related carbon pollution will be dwarfed by the costs sustained if we do nothing.]
Effective global warming mitigation promises other health benefits besides respiratory ones. They include reductions in heat stroke and the risk of infectious diseases borne by insects and other organisms that would otherwise migrate from the tropics.
But Carson does not view environmental regulations through a salubrious lens.
"There are too many regulations meddling in the affairs of people," he complains. In his view, the end result is all too often a debilitating state of public dependency on big government.
"Too many people take little personal responsibility for their own wellbeing", he laments. In his crusade for preserving individual self-reliance, the good doctor seems to advocate routinely being at the mercy of caveat emptor in a marketplace where profit takes precedence over health.
To sell his controversial ideology of getting rid of regulatory safety nets against environmental and other forms of societal abuse, he employs a euphemism. He says he just wants to create conditions where safeguards are not needed (a pipe dream unless human nature were somehow to undergo a miraculous transformation).
Carson almost always gets it wrong concerning EPA's environmental regulations. They are not an intrusion on privacy. They are an exercise in responsible government to limit the public's exposure to toxic industrial pollution not readily visible to the naked eye.
Such regulations are hardly a pathway to dependency. They are an extension of humanity.

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