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The Scientific Abuse of America

Posted by Rick · July 27th, 2004 · No Comments

Imagine this: You’re driving down the street, minding your own business. You are obeying all traffic laws. Your car, which you routinely service, is in perfect working condition. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a driver less vigilant than you sideswipes you, knocking your car off the road and into an irrigation ditch. Your young daughter, seated in the backseat, is seriously injured, but manages to escape through an open window; your wife is knocked unconscious and drowns.

Later, when you sue the driver, you find that not only can you not recover for your pain and suffering, but you cannot even recover the money you’re out for funeral expenses or hospital bills.

Why is this? Because the driver of the other car had passed his driver’s tests and been licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A similar scenario has been proposed by the Bush Administration in what the Justice Department admits is “a change in governmental policy” with respect to prescription drugs.

The Bush Administration has long been known for its pro-business stand. And few things cause more problems for large corporations than governmental regulation and the law. If corporations could find a way to reduce costs related to governmental regulation and other legal issues, profits would be significantly increased. The Bush Administration has long been working to reverse government regulations that get in the way of Big Business — most notably with respect to environmental issues, where they have been accused of using pseudo-science to eliminate regulations against polluting water, land and air.

(For details, see the Union of Concerned Scientists website; Nobel laureates, National Medal of Science winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences and thousands of other scientists have argued that Bush is censoring scientists whose studies contradict his administration’s beliefs. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, published by the Education Foundation for Nuclear Science, other scientists have noted as far back as September 2002 that “evidence” obtained from Iraq was being falsely represented as “proving” Iraq had a secret nuclear program.)

And it’s no secret that Bush and his cronies hate lawyers — except the ones who help them keep their pockets lined, provide them reasons to think that the Geneva Convention on Human Rights no longer applies, or otherwise advances their pro-business causes. In spite of the fact that more Americans turn to lawyers than do people of any other country in the world when they need help, lawyers continue to get a bad rap for “outrageous” awards against businesses. Who cares that juries made up of ordinary people make the decisions on not just whether to give an award in the first place, but also on the size? And who cares that it’s lawyers — in the form of defendant’s counsel and judges (who are all former lawyers) — who are then responsible for reducing those awards to something that is more palatable. Nope. Everyone likes to blame it on the lawyers, instead of on those who actually hire the lawyers, make the decisions and award the monies.

In one sense, though, it’s true that if we put limits on lawyers and what they can do, then the result will be what Big Business wants. People can’t sue Big Businesses without lawyers. Even when they try (and even when they succeed), they’re “standing in” for the lawyers, so it’s the same thing; by limiting what lawyers can do, you limit what Big Business has to pay for its mistakes.

And that brings us back to the Bush Administration’s proposal and argument. The New York Times reported on July 25, 2004 that,

The Bush administration has been going to court to block lawsuits by consumers who say they have been injured by prescription drugs and medical devices.

The Bush Administration argues that people are just too stupid to know what’s right for them.

Allowing consumers to sue manufacturers would “undermine public health” and interfere with federal regulation of drugs and devices, by encouraging “lay judges and juries to second-guess” experts at the F.D.A., the government said in siding with the maker of a heart pump sued by the widow of a Pennsylvania man.

It’s important to remember that when “lay judges” and “juries” make decisions, they do so only after experts — both those of the people doing the suing and those of the people being sued — explain whatever science needs to be explained to them. If, as the Bush Administration thinks, people are too stupid to make sense of the science well enough to decide that someone screwed up after all the experts explain things, then something is wrong with the science (and the experts), not with the people.

The Bush Administration thinks it’s important to protect drug companies instead of the public. One of the “problems” they cite is that

. . . if a local judge or jury finds that a drug or device is unsafe, it is in direct conflict with the conclusion reached by the F.D.A. after years of rigorous testing and evaluation.

But remember that neither judges nor juries decide things by throwing darts at dartboards; they sit and listen to evidence. The judges and juries don’t have any axes to grind or, should we say, oxen to protect, either. When a judgment goes against the drug companies, the money does not go into either the judge’s pocket or into any of the jurors’ pockets. But when the Bush Administration successfully blocks lawsuits against Big Business, the profits do go into Big Business’ pockets — and good-sized chunks of that make it into the pockets of the Bush Administration in the form of campaign contributions. You can’t buy judges and jurors, but apparently you can buy Presidents.

The Bush Administration says, “It is inappropriate for a jury to second-guess F.D.A.’s scientific judgment on a matter that is within F.D.A.’s particular expertise.” But as the San Francisco Chronicle reported on July 26, 2004,

Decades ago, chemical companies sometimes marketed new products whose health and environmental impacts they hadn’t adequately tested. No longer, said chemistry Prof. Vicki Colvin of Rice University — in part because of the financial consequences of lawsuits and widespread negative publicity. — Davidson, “The promise and perils of the nanotech revolution” (July 26, 2004) San Francisco Chronicle, p. A4, col. 2 (print edition); emphasis added.

We had an F.D.A. “decades ago” just as we do today. Yet chemical companies still marketed products they hadn’t adequately tested. As Britain’s Prince Charles noted, “the thalidomide catastrophe of the 1960s . . . left numerous children deformed.” (Davidson, supra, at p. A4, col. 2.)

As I read through the literally dozens of articles like this each month, I can only wonder why so many Americans are blind to the pattern that clearly shows the Bush Administration’s lack of care for the citizens of the United States. I can only wonder why when he sends our children to fight illegal wars — by tricking us into them in the first place — people accept it as the patriotic thing to do. I can only ponder the irony that our President, whose oil company failed even while he made millions (by selling it to another oil company that then shut it down; it appears the only reason for buying it was because Bush was then the son of another important politician, former Vice-President and then President George Herbert Walker Bush). I can only shake my head as people drool over the opportunity to provide ever more tax cuts to the rich, while the Administration simultaneously denies cuts to those of us — the middle class — who need the money the most. I’m amazed that we’re willing to allow businesses to gut our environment — our environment — and charge us for the privilege. And now, in a country that already has a shameful policy with respect to health care — worst of all civilized countries — we sit complacent while Bush works to give carte blanche to drug companies who already fight to have American citizens arrested for buying cheaper versions of their drugs from Canada.

Rather than trying to re-elect this guy to the Presidency, we should be working to have him convicted for crimes against humanity.

Categories: The Bush Regime


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