Friedman Day a reminder of gov’t’s growing deficit

Several years ago, the American Institute for Economic Research began to estimate what we call “Friedman Day”: the day when Americans have earned enough money to pay for government spending. This year’s date: May 29th.

Friedman Day falls nearly seven weeks later than the Tax Foundation’s “Tax Freedom Day.” Why? Because it includes more than taxes: The money government borrows to pay for spending that exceeds tax revenue.

While deficits and the national debt have now moved to the center of the political stage, Congress still appears unwilling and unable to make hard decisions.

The late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, after whom Friedman Day is named, liked to point out that when it comes to the size of government, it’s not how much governments collect in taxes that matters most, it’s how much government spends.

If you cut taxes but don’t reduce spending, you haven’t done anything to shrink the size of government. All you’ve done is shift the burden of paying for government to future generations, who will pay the interest on the money you borrow.

Great Barrington, Mass.

GM food options aren’t any riskier than others

From Bruce M. Chassy, Professor of Nutritional Sciences, Professor of Food Safety, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and David E Tribe,  Senior Lecturer, Food Biotechnology and Safety, University of Melbourne, Australia

Mr. Jeffery Smith (“Genetically modified food introduces host of dangers” May 10) claimed Senators Lugar and Casey had been duped by the biotech industry because their bipartisan bill states that agricultural biotechnology “shall be used” to conduct research. Mr. Smith would do well to read the language of the bill before offering comment. What the bill attempts to ensure is that biotech research will not be deliberately excluded in the search for solutions by pressure from fear mongers like Mr. Smith. The exact words of the bill: “include research on biotechnological advances appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified technology.” That is the only time the words “genetically modified” appear in the bill.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Mr. Smith, the self-appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology that he created, and author/publisher of two books about the horrors of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods, should attack a bill that seeks to reduce world hunger. To advance his agenda, he chooses to ignore the repeated findings of the National Academy of Science and the National Research Council that GM foods pose no new, special or different risks to the environment or to food safety than crops produced by any other breeding method. Fifteen years of successful harvests of biotech crops by tens of millions of farmers have proven the technology yields environmental and economic benefits and is safe.

And we expect Mr. Smith to ignore the American Medical Association’s (AMA) finding that GM foods are safe to eat and instead favor the words of a tiny splinter group of physicians who formed the American Academy of Environmental Medicine because they could not convince the AMA to accept their radical unscientific positions. We recently launched a website that we call Academics Review ( that exposes each of Smith’s claimed GM food-caused maladies to scientific scrutiny and contrasts them with findings in peer-reviewed scientific research publications.  

Although Smith would have people believe that biotech has been prematurely and irresponsibly unleashed on the world as a result of some conspiracy and must be reined in, in fact quite the opposite is true – if anything needs to be changed, governments need to relax the overzealous, unjustified, and counter-productive hyper-precautionary regulation of GM crops. From a scientific perspective, these crops are no riskier than any other and usually perform better than conventional varieties.

Urbana, Ill., and Moonee Ponds, Australia