Apr. 14, 2016 By Jack Jodell.
Republicans (especially the misguided Libertarian and pro-corporate ones) love to say that the Federal Government is far too restrictive, inefficient, and should get off of everyone’s back. What they really mean, of course, is that, in their view, the government should be stripped of nearly all regulatory authority and that almost all government functions should be privatized, so that people could make money off a lot of its services. They continue to cry out loudly for state’s rights and for deregulation. They conveniently overlook the fact that many of the regulatory agencies they complain about were started under REPUBLICAN Presidents and that some of them have been corrupted by repeated REPUBLICAN efforts to transform them into mere industry-friendly rubber stamps of approval, again under Republican Presidents. In this post I will illustrate an important example of what I have just alleged here.
Let us begin with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This once-great agency came into being during the great Progressive era of the early 20th century, during the administration of, and carrying the blessing of, then-President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican. Unlike the members of today’s Tea Party-infested, corporate-dominated and reactionary Republican Party, Teddy was a fighter for the common man, the small businessperson, workers, and those whom he saw had become victims of corporate greed at the hands of various big business robber barons. In those days, there was very little regulation of industry and the government didn’t even try to exercise any oversight of the business community. Roosevelt and like-minded progressive followers launched an era of badly-needed and long overdue reforms. They correctly viewed the government’s role as being one of protecting the public from the greed and excesses of wealthy predator capitalists. Prior to this time, unrestrained free-market capitalism completely controlled our economy. With nothing or no one empowered to keep this system in check, snake-oil salesmen and other swindlers arose, peddling all sorts of crazy, worthless so-called remedies as supposedly healthy tonics and elixirs, and made a lot of money fleecing the public as a result. Cocaine was once used as an additive to carbonated cola drinks and other products for ingestion, and no one could stop anybody from marketing and selling potentially dangerous products to an unsuspecting public. With the signing of the Food and Drug Act in 1906, progressives made it illegal for pill-pushers to doctor food and other products, and made their manufacturers and distributors liable for what they were making and selling. Over the next few decades, muckrakers and consumer advocates successfully pushed for even greater federal regulatory authority over food and drugs to ensure the public would always be given safer products, free from harmful additives, and to ensure the public was actually getting its money’s worth. Similar bills were passed and signed into law as a result of this grassroots activism, leading to the enactment of the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which Teddy’s cousin Franklin signed into law as part of his massively beneficial New Deal agenda during his second term in office. This increased federal jurisdiction over the manufacture and sale of these items and expanded their categories. Subsequent administrations even gave more power for the federal government to regulate these categories until, finally, pharmaceutical conglomerates devised a sneaky way to circumvent the FDA and force them to lessen their regulatory activity and weaken its effectiveness. These corporate giants, and many other industries, hired skilled attorneys, lobbyists, and media personalities to simultaneously bribe congresspersons into easing their regulatory restrictions and allowing also the direct appeal to consumers with ads for new drugs. This unprecedented direct marketing approach circumvented not only the FDA but also many physicians. The U.S. and New Zealand became the only two countries in the world to allow drug companies to solicit sales directly from their prospective targets! Patients began clamoring for these new drugs, and, as the nation became caught up in a ridiculous frenzy of anti-government deregulation efforts in the late 1970s until today, thanks in large part to the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and their reactionary minions, the FDA was transformed from a once-powerful regulatory agency dedicated to public safety to a weak rubber-stamp of approval for the release of new drugs dominated by huge corporations dedicated primarily to the profits of those ungodly greedy corporations. Both Reagan and Bush selected corporate-friendly infiltrators to head major regulatory agencies, and the end result has been terrible! Aside from being bombarded with ads over the years featuring drugs like Vytorin, Nexium, Viagra, Humira, and many others, years of study have shown that perhaps some of them were released too early – without enough necessary pre-testing and clinical study – and, as a result, serious and even life-threatening or fatal side effects have resulted. Remember the food additive called Olestra? This was a food-additive developed by Proctor and Gamble which was released after far too little research. It made its way into a boatload of snack products, from Fritos to “Wow” brand potato chips in the late 1990s and was hailed as a healthy fat substitute which would enable fat-conscious overweight Americans to enjoy snack foods without gaining weight. We never hear of this additive today, because it was found to cause diarrhea and other digestive disturbances. The corporate-owned media made little notice of this as products containing Olestra suddenly vanished from grocery store shelves. Perhaps soon we will see the same event for products containing Aspartame (aka NutraSweet), an artificial sugar substitute used by diabetics and calorie-conscious types. For it, too, has been found to cause adverse side effects. While having taken the diet products world by storm many years ago, there is strong evidence that ingesting large amounts of products infused with this stuff may actually cause its users to GAIN rather than lose weight! Vytorin was already proven to not be the miraculous cholesterol-reducing drug it was once touted to be, and recent studies regarding the safety of Nexium, Humira, and Viagra have all yielded questionable results regarding the safety of taking those drugs, too. That is why we see so much legal activity springing up around compensating victims of these supposedly healthy and safe drugs. Undoubtedly, had corporate America NOT so greatly compromised the effectiveness of the FDA, there would be far less victims and far fewer costly lawsuits@ This is just the effect deregulation and corporate infusion has had on only one federal regulatory agency – regrettably, there is much,much more! In future posts I will examine the negative effect deregulation and corporate intrusion has had on many other agencies.
Don’t you agree with me that it’s high time our regulatory agencies started doing their job again?
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