4 .. 141 E 11.3x AsTR1 wita,1 ytni think. ” 4.0 iftpito not around the table or watercooler, but through computer screens”virtually communicating.” The privileged and the powerful profit from all this separateness. It helps dilute America’s sense of “the communal good”one for all and all for one. Without this strong, democratic ethic of joining together, the corporate bosses, speculators and politicians feel no compulsion to stick with the “social contract” that once bound their own wealth to the well-being of most citizens and our communities. “Hey,” they hiss at us now, “I got mine, you get yours adios chump.” It’s time for us workaday folks to begin joining-up again, organizing together and recognizing that our self-interestis in our mutual interest. “LIME STEVE” FORBES’ FLAT TAX What a great country we live in, huh? A place where any mother’s child can grow up and run for president! Like “Little Stevie” Forbes, who was raised in a simple mansion in New Jersey’s hunt country, who pulled himself up by his Gucci bootstraps and made his money the old-fashion way: He inherited it. Heir to the Forbes Magazine media empire, “Little Stevie” still lives simply on his New Jersey estate. And in his London townhouse. And in his French chateau. And on his luxury yacht. And on his own personal 747 Boeing jet. Junior is putting up ten million dollars of his family’s fortune to run for the Republican presidential nomination. But it’s worth it because, you see, “Little Stevie” has a big dream: He wants to lower his taxes! Not just for him, though, but for all rich people. Yes, his Flat Tax proposal is a humdinger. It would eliminate all estate taxes, as well as taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. This is simply divine for people like Stevie. His own annual tax bill under his plan would be cut by as much as $312,000so you can see why he’s so upbeat about it. But if he effectively eliminates taxes for the privileged, who’ll pay? Why you, my dear. His plan not only taxes your wages, but also your health care, pension, and other benefits. Plus, he won’t let you deduct for your mortgage interest, state and local taxes, child care, or medical expenses. Forbes’ Flat Tax Plan will flatten you. If you make $60,000 a year, for example, you’ll pay $3,700 more in taxes under his plan than you do now. If you make $25,000 a year, you’ll pay $2,900 more. Indeed, unless you make more than $200,000 ayear, your taxes go upall so “Little Stevie” can lower his. Is this a great ideaor what? Q: In a previous article, you indicated that community epidemiological studies seldom produce meaningful results, and that though epidemiology studies are seriously flawed they are often used to imply that there is no problem due to chemical exposure. I live near a waste-disposal site, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry [ATSDR] is considering a study of our community. How can we protect ourselves from being victimized by a meaningless study? Unfortunately, community epidemiological studies are usually so insensitive that even a substantial increase in chemicallyinduced toxic effects will not be detected. The long latency period \(period between most chemicals do not cause unique effects but simply add to our health burden, and the limited size of most communities are a few of the problems that contribute to worthless conventional epidemiological studies. In an article in the Citizens Clearinghouse For Hazardous Wastes Newsletter, citizens confronted by epidemiological studies are advised to ask the following questions: What are the goals of the investigation? How will the investigators obtain the information they need? What will they do with the results? The answers to these questions will help detdrmine whether it is worthwhile to participate in the study. The key to avoiding a poor study is strong and active community involvement in every step of the process. If a study is poorly designed, predictably meaningless results will be forthcoming and subjects of the study will be faced with explaining why an equivocal study cannot be interpreted to indicate lack of chemical effects. The following checklist from the CCHW indicates what should be done before an epidemiological study begins: 1. Community members review study design \(funds will probably be needed to Marvin S. Legator is a professor and director of the Division of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Amanda M. HowellsDaniel is with the Toxics Assistance Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of UTMB Galveston. 2.Ensure that the study addresses specific chemical exposure and adverse effects observed in the community. 3.Avoid tests in which results cannot be interpreted. 4.Determine that there are enough individual subjects in the study to generate significant data . 5.Consult examples of similar studies where meaningful results have been released. 6.Provide each subject his/her medical report before releasing the material to the public. In many instances, traditional epidemiological studies will not satisfy the minimum criteria to meet with the approval of an informed citizenry. One way to change a study is to refuse to participate until your demands are satisfied. Unless the community participates, the agency has no study and will lose credibility. And, often there are other options that can be more productive than epidemiological studies. A symptom survey, which correlates known effects of the chemicals to which subjects were exposed with health effects in the community, or a health registry that monitors effects over time are alternatives worth considering. Chemical Alert, published by University of Texas Press, will address many related concerns and discuss issues from community organization to strategies for achieving your goals. Marvin S. Legator and Amanda M. Howells-Daniel A CHEMICAL WORLD THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 .101011110.”in. .