Rich Tucker
Any consultant worth his salt knows that “The urgent always crowds out the important.” To wit, it’s “important” for Company A to have a long-term program to improve its widgets. But that long-term plan doesn’t matter if Company A can’t make its payroll this week. Just staying in business is “urgent,” and it takes priority.

However, like so many other concepts, this doesn’t apply to the federal government.

Consider global warming. Human-caused climate change might generate changes that lead to “practically a different planet,” James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, told The Washington Post. “We can’t let it go on another 10 years like this. We’ve got to do something,” he added.

Of course, any successful response will come from the private sector, not the government. It will be fun, though, to look back in 2016. By then, American automobiles might run on tap water, our factories could be powered by nuclear fusion and our planet will certainly be cleaner than ever in history. We’ll be able to smile when we remember Hansen and Gore’s warnings.

But in the interim, the federal government is scrambling to throw money at global warming, in an attempt to “do something.” Washington spends $2 billion a year on the “important” topics of global warming and climate change. Meanwhile, at least one “urgent” problem isn’t getting enough attention. Autism.

The Centers for Disease Control says, “between 1 in 500 (2/1,000) to 1 in 166 children (6/1,000) have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.” That’s a crisis by any measure, but it’s flying under the radar screen. “Total NIH support for autism research was approximately $74 million in 2002,” the National Institute of Health reports on its Web page.

Autism may be getting less attention simply because it is more controversial. The CDC isn’t even sure there’s “a real increase in the incidence of autism as opposed to increased awareness and acceptance of the diagnosis.”

But even more controversial is the fact that many think the increase in autism is tied to vaccines, especially thimerosal, a longtime vaccine additive that’s half mercury. If that proves true, it would be a big problem for the government. The number of vaccines the CDC recommends a child get before turning two has almost tripled since 1988. At the same time, the rate of autism diagnoses has gone from 1 in every 10,000 children to 1 in 166.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for