Just Breathe


Should you ever find yourself out for a drive along the Michigan-Indiana border, take a moment to venture by the Kalamazoo district offices of Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.). By itself, Upton’s office is entirely unremarkable; but not far away is a billboard which may arrest your attention like it was the police and you were a kleptomaniacal Hollywood starlet with a coke habit.

The billboard features a preteen girl with her face encased in what appears to be either an oxygen mask or an exceptionally Byzantine—albeit undoubtedly effective—delivery system for the kind of inhalants parents delude themselves into believing are foreign to their preteen girls.


The billboard campaign is effective, at least on the surface. After all, no one wants to be the bastard whose legislative intransigence imprisoned poor Polly in her respirator.

The American Lung Association (ALA), theoretically a respected retinue of responsible folk, paid for these grim roadside reminders of respiratory distress, carbon dioxide and voting for Republicans. The ALA’s concern centers on the possibility that Upton, who serves as the current chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, may move to “…weaken the Clean Air Act.”

The billboards fail to mention a few fairly salient points. First, Upton has no plans to start pumping raw sulfur dioxide down your children’s throats. Second, Upton has no plans to weaken the Clean Air Act. His committee’s passage of the Energy Tax Prevention Act is designed to rein in runaway bureaucracy and unscientifically-motivated legislation which is in turn detrimental to economic and social progress. And third (and this one’s the kicker), this whole fear mongering campaign by the ALA is paid for by… you.

You read that last part correctly. The American Lung Association, a privately-run, tax-exempt, non-profit group, has received nearly $30 million over the last decade or so from the Environmental Protection Agency, a sub-cabinet-level division of the Federal government with enormous regulatory authority. And the ALA wants to stop Fred Upton from using the Energy Tax Prevention Act to put the kibosh on the EPA’s ability to crush economic development.

What Upton is planning with his Energy Tax Prevention Act—which rocketed through his committee and precipitated the ALA’s latest foray into fear mongering—is to return the Clean Air Act, and consequentially the EPA, to their legitimate purposes: Working toward cleaner air.

The Clean Air Act was most decidedly NOT implemented to institute what amounts to the odious Cap and Trade via a regulatory back door. Last November, the American electorate went to the polls slammed the door on bureaucratic regulatory subterfuge in resounding fashion; sending the Democrat Party busybodies who had spent the previous four years employing legislative authority to treat the American taxpayer like an ATM.

While the Democrat Party’s tendency toward the dictatorial isn’t new, the American Lung Association willingly serving as an accomplice to this sort of authoritarianism is less familiar. It’s terribly sad to see a once-proud organization dedicated to alleviating tuberculosis and other legitimately dangerous ailments sell its soul to a regulatory bridge troll like the EPA. It’s even sadder to see that once-proud organization do so by assigning real health problems to a theory which is the anecdotally-supported equivalent of geocentric astronomy.

And saddest of all: The ALA is either participating in this taxpayer-funded scam for the money—which means they have been motivated by pure avarice; or they’re in it because they really believe a sub-scientific theory is going to clog your children’s lungs, which makes them dupes.

Something is indeed rotten in Kalamazoo; but it isn’t Rep. Fred Upton.

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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