Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Latest From the House "Science" Committee

Politicians have found another way to strip our privacy from us.

This time the House Science Committee is the group at the forefront of this.  It appears that republicans on the committee feel that they need to go through the private medical information of thousands upon thousands of Americans...

...just so that they can attempt to refute data that says that pollution is bad for you.

Seriously.  That's no joke.  I can honestly come up with no other reason for their actions.

So, what are the actions, you ask?  Well, republicans within the committee drafted a subpoena demanding that the EPA turn over
 "...the research data that supports the health benefit claims that justify virtually every Clean Air Act regulation proposed and finalized by the Obama Administration." 

That quote came from the very first sentence of the subpoena, and is quite civil compared to other portions of the document, which is overtly hostile in its totality.  Indeed, on the surface that quote seems perfectly harmless.

That is, until you consider that it came from only republicans on the committee... two specific republicans who refer to this research as "secret science" in a press release.  Until you consider that firm science has been labeled as mere claims by politicians with no science background to speak of.

(Lamar Smith is a businessman who also, coincidentally sponsored that glorious piece of privacy invasion known as SOPA.  Chris Stewart, the other signature on the subpoena, is also a businessman, as well as an author, and is quite active within the church.)

Even with all of this information, however, you may be thinking that there's absolutely nothing wrong with this subpoena, and I can understand that.  Indeed, on the surface it sounds like something I'd be screaming alongside them for. 

"Freedom of information, YES!!!"

Except... I'm not.

Because the information they're asking for can lead to invasion of privacy, which is something that Smith has already shown a flagrant disregard for.  How can it lead to this, you ask? 

Well, they already have the ability to read the study itself.  What Smith and Stewart are asking for is the underlying information.  The underlying information would be things like specific people's medical histories

Personally, I don't want politicians reading things like that.  

Smith and Stewart have no right to know how old I was when I started to take birth control pills.  Sure, you can argue that they don't care about things like that, and that my information has nothing to do with this study, anyway, but that isn't the point.

The point is that they're demanding personal information that they don't need to have in order to decide if the science is valid or not, information that patients expected would remain confidential.

So where is this "secret science" that Smith and Stewart are writing about coming from?

It came from two well known institutions: Harvard and the American Cancer Society.  They're both highly suspect, after all, right?  We all know Harvard research is bunk, and always has been.

And if you believe that, you're totally on the anti-EPA bandwagon...

It has been a very long time since the EPA has done anything that I can admire, but they were once a fantastic agency of the government that made a very big difference in people's lives, changing things for the better. 

With Gina McCarthy is its new head, I've been excited that this may once again happen.  The world is ready for increased environmental action - Protection - and McCarthy inspires confidence in me.  I believe she has the ability to accomplish at least some of that goal.

Perhaps that's why this subpoena was written so early in her new position.  

Perhaps the right wing is attempting to discredit her, unhinge her.  Perhaps they feel that doing so will enable them to reallocate federal funding away from the environment and into something else.  McCarthy is the first thing that has excited me about the EPA in a very long time, which leads me to believe others may feel the same.

Perhaps they fear her.

Or perhaps not.  The bottom line, though, is that the House Science Committee is demanding personal information in direct violation of privacy, and they're doing it in the name of "science".  Are we going to sit idly by and watch, or are we going to say something about it?

If we allow rights to be taken from others, eventually they'll be taken from us, as well.

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