Walter E. Williams
President Bush, during his State of the Union address, said, "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." I decided to check out "addiction" in Merriam-Webster's dictionary and found: "compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful."

Yesteryear, before it became popular for emotions to guide one's thinking, anyone suggesting that the use of oil in large quantities amounted to an addiction would have been seen as a lunatic, but not today. Today, it's seen as caring about the environment and conservation. President Bush could have just as easily chided Americans for our egg addiction; we guzzle almost 72 billion eggs a year, exposing ourselves to chickens that might be harmful, not to mention high cholesterol.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing the president for that kind of thinking; he has plenty of company. Several years ago, Dr. Mark Rosen of the Centers for Disease Control said that we have to "convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace." His CDC colleague, Dr. Patrick O'Carroll, was quoted in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Feb. 3, 1989) as saying, "The way we're going to do this [bring about gun control] is to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes death."

If I weren't so busy pushing back the frontiers of ignorance at George Mason University, I might take a trip to the CDC's Atlanta headquarters and give their medical staff a lecture on Koch's Postulates of Pathogenicity, a logical series of scientific steps medical practitioners use to prove that a microorganism is directly responsible for causing a particular disease. I'd let them know that bullets and guns have no infectious properties. Not having been to medical school, I could be proven all wrong about this. In that case, I'd urge the CDC scientists to work on an inoculation for gun violence.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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