Drudge Report is running with this AP report on fluoride. In part, it says:
Fluoride in drinking water — credited with dramatically cutting cavities and tooth decay — may now be too much of a good thing. Getting too much of it causes spots on some kids' teeth.Huh, if they only knew half the real story.
The real truth is that, at best, there is very mixed scientific evidence about fluoride in the first place. The positive story on fluoride was promoted by paid state-of-the-art propagandists in league with government interventionists and big business..
Murray Rothbard wrote in 1993:
Studies have shown that while kids 5 to 9 may have their cavities reduced by fluoridation, said kids ages 9 to 12 have more cavities, so that after 12 the cavity benefits disappear. So that, at best, the question boils down to: are we to subject ourselves to the possible dangers of fluoridation solely to save dentists the irritation of dealing with squirming kids aged 5 to 9...But after that initial sketchy study, more negative reports surfaced about fluoride. Rothbard again:
Even coming into question is the long-sacred idea that fluoridated water at least lowers cavities in children five to nine. Various top pro-fluoridationists highly touted for their expertise were suddenly and bitterly condemned when further study led them to the conclusion that the dental benefits are really negligible. New Zealand's most prominent pro-fluoridationist was the country's top dental officer, Dr. John Colquhoun. Here's Rothbard on who designed the positive fluoride camapign (my emphasis):
As chairman of the Fluoridation Promotion Committee, Colquhoun decided to gather statistics to show doubters the great merits of fluoridation. To his shock, he found that the percentage of children free of dental decay was higher in the non-fluoridated part than in the fluoridated part of New Zealand. The national health department refused to allow Colquhoun to publish these findings, and kicked him out as dental director. Similarly, a top pro-fluoridationist in British Columbia, Canada, Richard G. Foulkes, concluded that fluoridation is not only dangerous, but that it is not even effective in reducing tooth decay.
A key figure in the successful drive for fluoridation was Oscar R. Ewing, who was appointed by President Truman in 1947 as head of the Federal Security Agency, which encompassed the Public Health Service (PHS), and which later blossomed into our beloved Cabinet office of Health, Education, and Welfare. One reason for the left's backing of fluoridation – in addition to its being socialized medicine and mass medication, for them a good in itself – was that Ewing was a certified Truman Fair Dealer and leftist, and avowed proponent of socialized medicine, a high official in the then-powerful Americans for Democratic Action, the nation's central organization of "anti-Communist liberals" (read: Social Democrats or Mensheviks).
The mobilization, the national clamor for fluoridation, and the stamping of opponents with the right-wing kook image, was all generated by the public relations man hired by Oscar Ewing to direct the drive. For Ewing hired none other than Edward L. Bernays, the man with the dubious honor of being called the "father of public relations." Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was called "The Original Spin Doctor" in an admiring article in the Washington Post on the occasion of the old manipulator's 100th birthday in late 1991...In his 1928 book Propaganda, Bernays laid bare the devices he would use: Speaking of the "mechanism which controls the public mind," which people like himself could manipulate, Bernays added that "Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country...our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of..." And the process of manipulating leaders of groups, "either with or without their conscious cooperation," will "automatically influence" the members of such groups.
In describing his practices as PR man for Beech-Nut Bacon, Bernays tells how he would suggest to physicians to say publicly that "it is wholesome to eat bacon." For, Bernays added, he "knows as a mathematical certainty that large numbers of persons will follow the advice of their doctors because he (the PR man) understands the psychological relationship of dependence of men on their physicians." (Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda [New York: Liveright, 1928], pp. 9, 18, 49, 53. Quoted in Griffiths, p.63) Add "dentists" to the equation, and substitute "fluoride" for "bacon," and we have the essence of the Bernays propaganda campaign.So who was behind the big fluoridation drive in the first place? Rothbard writes:
Before the Bernays campaign, fluoride was largely known in the public mind as the chief ingredient of bug and rat poison; after the campaign, it was widely hailed as a safe provider of healthy teeth and gleaming smiles.
Since the case for compulsory fluoridation is so flimsy, and the case against so overwhelming, the final step is to ask: why? Why did the Public Health Service get involved in the first place? How did this thing get started? Here we must keep our eye on the pivotal role of Oscar R. Ewing, for Ewing was far more than just a social democrat Fair Dealer.Bottom line: Rothbard pointed out more than 25 years ago, the fluoride scam. Spots on kids teeth are likely the least of the problems that fluoride causes. The entire fluoride push was about the politically connected basically poisoning public water, for their gain.
Fluoride has long been recognized as one of the most toxic elements found in the earth's crust. Fluorides are by-products of many industrial processes, being emitted in the air and water, and probably the major source of this by-product is the aluminum industry. By the 1920s and 1930s, fluorine was increasingly being subject to lawsuits and regulations. In particular, by 1938 the important, relatively new aluminum industry was being placed on a wartime footing. What to do if its major by-product is a dangerous poison?
The time had come for damage control; even better, to reverse the public image of this menacing substance. The Public Health Service, remember was under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department, and treasury secretary all during the 1920s and until 1931 was none other than billionaire Andrew J. Mellon, founder and head of the powerful Mellon interests, "Mr. Pittsburgh," and founder and virtual ruler of the Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA), the dominant firm in the aluminum industry.
In 1931, the PHS sent a dentist named H. Trendley Dean to the West to study the effects of concentrations of naturally fluoridated water on people's teeth. Dean found that towns high in natural fluoride seemed to have fewer cavities. This news galvanized various Mellon scientists into action. In particular, the Mellon Institute, ALCOA's research lab in Pittsburgh, sponsored a study in which biochemist Gerald J. Cox fluoridated some lab rats, decided that cavities in those rats had been reduced and immediately concluded that "the case (that fluoride reduces cavities) should be regarded as proved." Instant science!
The following year, 1939, Cox, the ALCOA scientist working for a company beset by fluoride damage claims, made the first public proposal for mandatory fluoridation of water. Cox proceeded to stump the country urging fluoridation. Meanwhile, other ALCOA-funded scientists trumpeted the alleged safety of fluorides, in particular the Kettering Laboratory of the University of Cincinnati.
During World War II, damage claims for fluoride emissions piled up as expected, in proportion to the great expansion of aluminum production during the war. But attention from these claims was diverted, when, just before the end of the war, the PHS began to push hard for compulsory fluoridation of water. Thus the drive for compulsory fluoridation of water accomplished two goals in one shot: it transformed the image of fluorine from a curse to a blessing that will strengthen every kid's teeth, and it provided a steady and substantial monetary demand for fluorides to dump annually into the nation's water.
One interesting footnote to this story is that whereas fluorine in naturally fluoridated water comes in the form of calcium fluoride, the substance dumped into every locality is instead sodium fluoride. The Establishment defense that "fluoride is fluoride" becomes unconvincing when we consider two points: (a) calcium is notoriously good for bones and teeth, so the anti-cavity effect in naturally fluoridated water might well be due to the calcium and not the fluorine; and (b) sodium fluoride happens to be the major by-product of the manufacture of aluminum.
Which brings us to Oscar R. Ewing. Ewing arrived in Washington in 1946, shortly after the initial PHS push began, arriving there as long-time counsel, now chief counsel, for ALCOA, making what was then an astronomical legal fee of $750,000 a year (something like $7,000,000 a year in present dollars). A year later, Ewing took charge of the Federal Security Agency, which included the PHS, and waged the successful national drive for water fluoridation. After a few years, having succeeded in his campaign, Ewing stepped down from public service, and returned to private life, including his chief counselship of the Aluminum Corporation of America.
There is an instructive lesson in this little saga, a lesson how and why the Welfare State came to America. It came as an alliance of three major forces: ideological social democrats, ambitious technocratic bureaucrats, and Big Businessmen seeking privileges from the State. In the fluoridation saga, we might call the whole process "ALCOA-socialism." The Welfare State redounds to the welfare not of most of society but of these particular venal and exploitative groups.
A word to the wise: Drink private sector bottled water.
Robert Wenzel is the editor & publisher of the Economic Policy Journal.