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Scams, hoaxes and hypocrisies

These are so common in today’s world that we have to be on constant guard to avoid being taken in by them.

Scam artists prey on the unsuspecting public by invoking emotional issues, such as asking for donations to honor Iraq War veterans, or to feed starving children throughout the world, but especially in Africa. Some of these are pure scams, with as little as five percent of the donated money going to the cause, and the rest ending up in the pockets of the promoters.

Feed-the-starving-children charities that do not include education and birth control in their programs are being hypocritical. Instead of solving the problem, they are fostering still greater suffering in the future in countries in which the population already exceeds food production capacity. Without an effective birth control program, they are guaranteeing there will be ever-more starving mouths to feed.



President Bush is a part of this hypocrisy by promoting control over malaria on the one hand, while prohibiting any funding that supports birth control on the other.

You can get information on which charities are legitimate by consulting a copy of “Wise Giving,” published by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, 4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22203, (703) 276-0100. They demand accountability for approval of charitable organizations, and require that at least 65 percent of receipts be spent on program activities.



Another scam is the various state lottery programs and taxes on casino proceeds, which are advertised as funding environmental activities, without spending any of your tax money. This is merely a cheap shot to have the poor who buy lottery tickets and compulsive gamblers who patronize the casinos pay for the cost of these programs, so those who are better able to pay that cost don’t have to.

Have you also noticed how many corporations with abysmal environmental records are trying to convince us that they are now leading the “green” movement? ADM, an agribusiness giant, is trying to sell us on what a marvelous job they are doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by producing ethanol from corn ” with huge subsidies funded by us, the taxpayers. Ethanol is not less polluting than gasoline, when you include the energy used in its production and its land-use impacts.

Furthermore, it is driving up the cost of corn and other grains it has supplanted and all the foods that are dependent on them, costing us an exorbitant price for this hoax.

Another hoax is the “Renewable Energy Credits” program, under which an industry that has been able to reduce its carbon emissions can sell that reduction to an industry that exceeds its carbon allotment, thereby saving that industry the larger cost of reducing its carbon footprint. This is nothing more than a zero-sum game in which there is no real reduction in carbon emissions ” merely a swap from one company to another for money. A number of people in industry will acknowledge privately (and sometimes publicly) that in many cases the “green” movement is little more than a shell game. Even the EPA is in on the act, giving National Environmental Awards to 500 corporations, many of whom they have convicted and fined for violations of air and water pollution regulations.

Finally, there’s the “Stimulus Package” passed by Congress, which will send checks for $300 and $600 to individuals and $1,200 to families, to supposedly boost the economy and the job market. If that money is spent on purchases from Wal-Mart, it will boost the economy of China, where most of Wal-Mart’s products are made; and by increasing Wal-Mart’s profits, will increase the value of its stock, but will do little to improve the finances of the average American worker, who has seen his real income decline by 12 percent since the middle 1970s.

So beware of the scams, the hoaxes, and the hypocrisies ” they are everywhere, and are all aimed at you know who.

Hal Sundin’s column appears every other Thursday in the Post Independent.


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