Eliminating the FDA is a Must

As promised this evening, I have brought forth a topic that I am a little excited to have some of you folks, who are so entrenched in your beliefs about regulation and government’s necessity in the realm of business, sink your teeth into and debate here at SUFA. I will allow the topic to rest on its own for two days until Tuesday night’s open mic (simply meaning I won’t be posting a new article on Monday night). I have spent the last couple of years debating with folks here and elsewhere that I believe that the market could take care of things better than the government. I don’t actually feel that there is any question as to the validity of that statement. The government hasn’t met a regulation that has worked. Sure some of them make small improvements in some areas, but the problem is that the unintended consequences seem to always negate any good that comes from regulation. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world controlled by the Food and Drug Administration. Not only is regulation completely ineffective in that realm, but the unintended consequences are devastating to a society that has the potential to be much farther down the path of better health than the FDA has allowed.

So what I am going to offer here is my vision for the elimination of the Food and Drug Administration. I cannot claim that all of what I will say here is 100% mine. It is the result of reading many different ideas and having many different discussions with people over the years. I wish I could name every person who had a thought that contributed. Some of them are in books (John Stossel, Hayek, and Andrew Napolitano for example), while others I knew only as “that guy I talked to while waiting for the Metro in DC.” Now let me first address the concept that I am espousing here:

I fully understand that we cannot eliminate the FDA tomorrow and think that everything is going to magically transform and the private markets are going to have instant solutions. I also understand that the idea of doing so simply scares the poo out of anyone who still, in their own mind, cannot grasp the concept of a world without government regulation. That means that any proposal that would take this drastic step would be shouted down by the same type of people who sound the alarm that without government intervention the climate will change, Bill Gates will buy the Presidency, and Coca-Cola will go back to putting Cocaine in their soft drinks.

That is why what I offer is a two-step proposal. We will get to the two steps in a bit. Step two is actually quite simple. It is nothing more than eliminating the FDA. But in my opinion we have to do step one first. Before I get to explaining step one, I thought the first relevant thing to do was justify why this is necessary at all. I made the claim above that the FDA is the best example of how unintended consequences negate any good that comes from regulation. I am going to provide a few reasons why I believe this. It will be a sort of justification for the elimination of the FDA in the first place. After all, you don’t go changing things all willy-nilly. There has to be a need for changing things in order for the private market to take action. If a need doesn’t need to be filled, the private market doesn’t fill it. But there is plenty of need to eliminate the FDA.

The Food and Drug Administration was formed in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt as part of the Food and Drug Act. Many of the regulatory powers associated today with the FDA were granted via the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Currently the FDA is responsible for “protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, medical devices, electromagnetic radiation emitting devices, veterinary products, and cosmetics.” The agency was meant to do good. It was formed as it currently exists a result of some public outcry over interstate transportation of food that had been doctored and a 1937 Elixir Sulfanilamide tragedy, in which over 100 people died after using a drug formulated with a toxic, untested solvent. See, even then progressives knew how to take advantage of a crisis. 😉

Over the years the size and scope of the FDA did what every government bureaucracy does: grow out of control. Let’s start with the operating budget which taxpayers would no longer be responsible for. Last year’s operating budget for the FDA was 2.4 Billion dollars. That a nice chunk of change. But that is only a fraction of the actual costs to consumers. Drugs in the United States are some of the highest priced in the world. Financially strapped folks in the US break the law to get the same drugs for less money from foreign companies in Canada and Europe. I would suggest that simply lowering the costs of drugs would be reason enough to eliminate the FDA.

Henry I. Miller, a former FDA official, presented a crushing analysis of the FDA’s regulatory process and procedures. In his early 2001 editorial commentary, Dr. Miller noted that the total time it takes to develop a new drug and get it to market had doubled since the 60’s. He also noted, “Costs are spiraling out of control because the FDA meddles endlessly in clinical trials and keeps raising the bar for approval.” Furthermore, he cited statistics that showed the average number of clinical trials per average drug increased from 30 in the early 1980’s to 68 during the 1994–95 period while the average number of patients in clinical trials for each drug more than tripled! As expected, the average time required for clinical trials for a new drug rose from 85 months in the first half of the 1990’s to 92 months in the last half of the 1990’s. (found here )

Most estimates on the cost of getting drugs to market is roughly $1.3 Billion per drug. Is it any wonder that our drugs in the US cost so much. Add to that the fact that only about one fifth of drugs that enter Phase one testing ever actually make it through clinical trails and go to market (DiMasi and Grabowski, 2007). That means that for every drug that makes it to market, drug companies have spent approximately $6.5 Billion in R&D, the vast majority of which goes to meeting FDA guidelines. Any other questions as to why Canada can offer the same drugs to consumers at roughly a quarter of the cost? Now just think of putting those costs back into the pockets of American consumers. It would certainly be better for economic stimulus than the bullshit plan that our government dolts keep trying to ram down our throats. Need any more reason to eliminate the FDA? I didn’t think so. But you know I am going to give you more anyway….

How about the fact that the FDA KILLS PEOPLE. You bet your butt they do. By stripping away the rights and freedoms of dying Americans, the FDA is a death sentence for terminally ill patients with little hope. Allow me to offer an example. Suppose you have cancer and are told that unless a new treatment comes along, you are going to die in 2 years maximum. You try everything that the health industry has to offer. There is a new experimental drug that shows great hope. You are down to a year left. It enters the clinical trial phase. The drug should be approved in 8-12 years. It won’t save your life. You know why? Because despite the fact that you are going to die without that drug, the FDA won’t allow you to have it because they want to protect you!

Suppose that new drug is going to cure a disease that kills 20,000 people a year. In ten years the FDA will come out and proudly proclaim that they are approving a drug that will save 20,000 lives a year. No one will even ask them about the 200,000 who died over the last ten years waiting for the FDA to approve a drug that would have saved their lives (and yes I am aware of the case by case “exceptions” that allow a dying patient to take the drug, but why should anyone be able to tell a dying patient that they have to be approved to take it, that they have to wait 6 months for approval, or that they have to be monitored by the FDA? They are DYING). Remember that the FDA doesn’t not care one bit about the lives of the people who may be saved by a new drug. They care only about those who may be possibly hurt by one.

And let us not pretend that the FDA’s processes, which increase the costs of food, drugs, medical devices, and the rest of the stuff they do, actually work. While that doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite of any government agency or regulatory authority, that doesn’t mean we should be accepting it. The FDA routinely fails at the only task for which they supposedly exist. How many food recalls due to sickness have we had in the last couple of years, as in the case of 1800 people sickened by eggs last week? Ten cases? Twenty? What about drug recalls because the interactions that were supposed to be tested for were simply not a part of the ridiculous requirements for FDA approval (Fen-Phen or Vioxx anyone?). I could list examples all day long here, as you all well know. The point is that the world approved by the FDA is not a safe one, despite the massive price we pay to live in that world. Can you imagine accepting a doctor telling you that for $10,000 he will guarantee that the drug you take is safe, only to find that once you pay him he admits that there is a 10% chance the drug isn’t safe? You would demand your money back.

Despite the FDA, the estimates are that somewhere around 750,000 people a year die as a result of medical mistakes. From an article about a groundbreaking book: Since Americans spend so much money on health care, they should be getting a high quality of care, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Of the 783,936 annual deaths due to conventional medical mistakes, about 106,000 are from prescription drugs, according to Death by Medicine. That also is a conservative number. Some experts estimate it should be more like 200,000 because of underreported cases of adverse drug reactions (found here ). These are numbers that dwarf the number of deaths from automobile accidents or any other form of accident combined. Yet the FDA persists, continuing to suffocate the American economy.

I could continue on with all the reasons why the FDA should not be allowed to continue in the United States. But I think that the massive increase in costs, the number of lives lost, and the absolutely ridiculous inability to deliver on their stated promise offers more than enough evidence that the FDA should be eliminated. So we can argue about what I have presented to this point, but I do think you are going to have an awful tough time convincing anyone that the FDA does a great job and is overall a benefit to us as Americans. It isn’t. It has to go. But as I said, many Americans are simply too enamored with government and too bought in to the mistaken ideal that we need government to do this job to simply eliminate it tomorrow. So we need an initial step that will get us from where we are to a place where Americans will be comfortable with eliminating the FDA. That step is simple. It is an easy fix and it doesn’t require anyone in America to give up their beloved FDA protection without a proven alternative in place.

We need to make approval by the FDA on anything….. voluntary.

Allow anyone who wants to bypass the FDA to do so. You can put a required warning on the non-FDA approved stuff so that no one is fooled into thinking otherwise. But make entry into the market easier by not requiring new entrants to submit to the ridiculous and unnecessary protocols of the FDA. Then get out of the way and let the private markets do what they do best. What do the private markets do best, you ask?

They solve problems. Plain and simple. They meet the demands of the consumer in order to turn a profit. And because they are not protected by the federal government like FDA approved companies are, they will work harder to ensure that they produce solutions that are safe and effective. And they will do it at a fraction of the cost that it is being done today. And they will do it in a fraction of the time that it is being done today. Let’s break down how the market will do this.

No matter what the need is in the market, if the government doesn’t restrict entry (such as the FDA does in this case by making it a law that you have FDA approval), the market will provide it ten ways from Tuesday. Multiple companies will enter the market offering multiple different ways of doing things and providing multiple solutions to the medical problems that consumers face. Barring a restriction to entry, as mentioned, the market does this 100% of the time. If there is a market for a product or service, the free market will always, without fail, fill that need. That is a fact that simply is not debatable. Every service or product that is needed to replace the FDA will appear in the free and private market if allowed.

No company wants to put out an inferior product in a world where trial lawyers are vultures looking for multi-million dollar claims against a company that puts out drugs or medical devices. Doing so would be economic suicide for the company. They simply would not survive without government protecting them (and government wouldn’t protect them because government wants you to use the FDA!). So they would be taking every step possible to test and re-test their product so that it will pass muster in a lawsuit. In this way the free market is the regulation needed to keep companies in line. Let’s not forget that there is always the FDA approved products to fall back on if companies fail to meet the standards demanded by the public. With that in place the market will prove that it can self regulate. If it doesn’t, the FDA wins and survives.

The private market would also produce an alternative to FDA approval. We have such a device already for many other industries in services like Consumer Reports. There will be a need for some sort of authority to tell the public what is safe, effective, and trusted. A sort of consumer reports for drugs not approved by the FDA would develop. Where would the people come from? We already have them. Medical experts that testify in trials for or against medical companies and drug companies would do the job. Why? Because the market would exist and the need would be there, and what comes with demand? Money. I would start such a company and offer a one million dollar award no questions asked if it is shown that the advice that my company offered contributed to to a patient death. People would flock to pay for my low cost service because of the money I would save them by directing them to drugs that cost less money because companies are operating without government bureaucracy. The FDA already has fees associated with submitting a drug for review, and they get about $300 Million a year doing so. Apparently the drug companies have no issue paying to have their drugs reviewed. I will charge less than the FDA. And do it better.

My seal of approval would be well known and respected. Malpractice insurance companies would require doctors to use either FDA approved or USWeapon Sealed products. However, doctors and patients would be free to seek an exemption from their insurance company, and the doctor or consumer in cases where there is a new, but not-yet approved or “sealed” drug or device, that might make the difference between life and death. See, that is the true point in all of this. It offers people the option of using their own judgement in decisions around their own health or the health of their patient. The free market would also result in insurance companies having incentive to offer consumers no-fault liability insurance for medical malpractice, including the use of medication and medical devices that have not gotten a USWeapon seal of approval or FDA approval. And consumers would have a strong incentive to purchase such insurance.

You see, making the FDA voluntary gives the free market (and remember we have to let it be a FREE market) the opportunity to prove its worth while still having the FDA around for a backup in the slim chance my idea doesn’t work. But my idea would work. You will all have the ability today and tomorrow to tell me where I am wrong. But I don’t think that I am. Over time the free market side would bury the FDA side. They would do things better, faster, and more efficiently, the way that the market already does. Consumers will learn new habits rather than sitting back and relying on government to protect them. They will, after all, have a significant financial incentive to do so. And after a while, people will realize that we never really needed the government in this business at all. We just needed them to get the hell out of the way of the market.

Or I will be wrong and the progressives will have all the ammunition that they need to have another hundred years of increasing tyranny and costs via regulation. What have they got to lose? Oh, that’s right…… control.

And to wrap this up I want to talk about why we should be pursuing this course of action in the first place. There are the obvious answers: costs, effectiveness, and efficiency. I covered those above. But those are irrelevant, at least in my eyes, when placed against the real reason why we should do this. We should do it because it is the right thing to do. We are a country founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom. As such, there is absolutely no justification for government taking our free will away from us. If I want to try an experimental drug or device, it is my right to do so. I don’t want government protecting me. They do a shitty job of it. I believe that a free market solution could do it better. And I should have every right to use a free market system. I am not advocating an immediate suspension of your right to rely on government. You are more than welcome to waste your money doing so. I will buy your boat when you can’t afford it anymore.

What I am advocating is that government get out of the way and allow Americans to use the freedom and liberty that is ours by birth, not by government grant. The government monopoly on protecting us must end. It simply is not in line with the principles of freedom we were founded on.

So what do you say, US government? Are you up for a little challenge? Get your slow, expensive ass out of the way and let’s see if you can compete with my beloved free market. Winner takes all. Loser folds up shop. I am sure the free market will offer you a great price for those buildings you won’t need when this is all over.

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Besides the links I provided above I got information that came from this reference:

DiMasi, J. A., and H. G. Grabowski. 2007. The cost of biopharmaceutical R&D: Is biotech different? Managerial and Decision Economics 28(4–5):469–479.

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Comments

  1. posting for comments

  2. Unfortunately I have to disagree with you, if only from a purely historical angle.

    A woman had back pain. She bought Doans Pills. The label stated that these pills would cure her back pain. They did not. That same woman was told by other women over the backyard fence that she could be prevented from having liver problems caused by her alcoholism by taking “Carter’s Little Liver Pills”, so she did. By the hundreds, and no, they did not prevent ANYTHING. Just like the Doans pills. Eventually this woman began taking Aspirin to relieve her pains. She ended up taking Aspirin by the handful several times a day. This mother of five died at age 58. The cause of her death remains undetermined to this day. The reason for this is that the coroner put in his report that this woman showed signs of multiple injuries to her spine caused by an auto accident when she was just a teenager in the late 1920’s, an advanced liver disease caused by her alcoholism, and serious damage to her heart caused by “unknown” medications.

    Doans Pills and Carters Little Liver Pills are no longer sold for the reasons that they once were. I found out that Doans Pills are mostly aspirin as was Carters. All this woman did was take a lot of aspirin – which has since been proven (by the FDA no less) to be somewhat of a blood thinner and a stomach irritant, which this woman mistakenly thought to be liver pain.

    I know all of this because this woman was my mother who grew up in an era when seeking a doctors advice was considered too expensive.

    Another point in history, from another distant relative, goes way back into the 1800’s to a time before the FDA and alludes as to why the FDA came about. My great grandfather on my mothers side of the family operated a clinic for people with tuberculosis. He fed them elixirs and “medicines” to assist in curing them of the disease. None were cured, and as we know today TB is not curable but it can be halted with the proper medications and lifestyle changes. A very good friend of mine’s wife has it and she is now in her mid to late eighties and doing fine.

    Most of the elixirs and medications from great grand pappy’s clinic amounted to nothing more than laudnum(not sure of the spelling) – I think that is an opiate based drug – and liquefied cocaine and something called “snake oil” of which properties I have no knowledge about. If the FDA were in existence back then maybe great grand pappy would not have would up so rich on other peoples misery. You see, back then anyone could claim to be a doctor. Most of them cut hair for a living, until the emergence of the AMA and later the FDA.

    Even with the currant albatross which the FDA has turned into, we still have people who will prey upon other peoples weaknesses like the manufacturers of Doans and Carters pills, and even the people who touted aspirin as the wonder drug of the century – just like they did penicillin and the polio vaccines of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    So I have to say that we will always need some sort of regulatory agency over what we eat and what we are allowed to have as medicines.

    FYI – Remember the actor who played in the movie “Bullit”? Steve McQueen. He got cancer. He tried everything that the medical community had to offer, but the cancer remained. So he went to foreign countries that offered non FDA approved cancer treatments. He died. Not from those non FDA approved treatments, but because his cancer was not discovered until it was way too late – and he was told that by more than a dozen doctors. You see, he was raised in the same sort of era that my mother was raised in and he didn’t do anything about his pains until it was way too late.

    In some cases the FDA is not the villain you try to make it out to be. Yes, it is too big for its britches and it does create a paperwork nightmare for drug manufacturers, and yes it takes too long to approve some medications, but I point out the Thalidomide nightmare when a drug was hastily approved before thorough testing was complete.

    We just need to find a way to trim this albatross down to an acceptable size, but we will always need a regulatory agency of some kind for food and medicines.

    • My heart goes out to you for your mother. It is sad that people would take advantage like that.

      One point to add to the debate. While companies can certainly try to pull the wool over your eyes with respect to a drug like in your account, in the present age, there is more than enough access to information to counter it. As USW said, the regulatory job will be taken up privately because the demand will be there. Even without this, it would be possible to google some drug and find out more information.

      • It is possible to google some drug and find out all the information because all the information is out there. Sans FDA, there would not be the extensive testing and controlled trials that determine the facts your search would pull up. All you would find are testimonials that may or may not have been planted by the manufacturer.

        I was looking at a large purchase the other day and tried to do a google search to see what people thought of it. The top dozen hits were all sites with glowing reviews and recommendations – everyone, it seemed, had a great experience. But then I noticed something – all the reviews were oddly similar and, dare I say it, formulaic. Upon further review, I found many buried reviews with complaints. I chose not to buy based more upon the shifty ethics of a company who seeds fake reviews into google than the complains. This is how you suggest we get our medical information?

        • Mathius,

          Your argument infers that it is good business to kill your customer.

          Of course, such a premise is insane, thus the rest of your argument is insane.

          The corollary of the FDA is that people – believing that “someone else” is looking after their interests, stop looking after their interests.

          If a company can get government approval by one means or another, it gifts the company the unlimited ability to deceive the consumer – the company merely has to point to its government license as proof.

          • It’s in their best interest to kill their customers slowly.

            There’s a proverb from the middle ages. Something to the effect of: the physician might heal you, but only once you have run out of funds.

            You are a student of history, no doubt you can understand the historical context of this. I’m short on time today, so let me know if you need me to spell it out.

            And, let us not delude ourselves. Cigarette companies, which sell irrefutably cancerous products add nicotine to addict customers. Provided they don’t kill you immediately, they are happy to kill you later, and milk you for as long as they are able in the meantime.

            You remind me of Nick Naylor.

            • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

              I gotta agree with you on this one Mathius. The goal of all big Pharma companies is to have you die, but SOMEWHAT (not much) more slowly than you would have anyway, by PERPETUALLY taking anywhere from 1 to 10 of their products SEVERAL TIMES PER DAY EVERY DAY from the age of 50 until your expiration date.

              If a doctor ever gives me a prescription for a Statin Drug for example, I am going to tell him where he can shove it.

              I would rather go out of this world at 75 eating bacon for breakfast and steak for dinner whenever I want as opposed to going out at 80 on a restricted diet and making big Pharma rich by paying my “Prescription Dues”.

              Screw that.

            • Mathius, Peter

              It’s in their best interest to kill their customers slowly.

              Utterly bizarre.

              Dead people do not need money, nor spend it.

              There’s a proverb from the middle ages. Something to the effect of: the physician might heal you, but only once you have run out of funds.

              So, let’s see.

              You claim they “kill you” and you use a quote to prove it?

              And the quote says nothing of “killing” but extracting maximum value??

              Mathius, donate your brain to science – it will be incomprehensible to try to figure out your thinking otherwise.

              Cigarette companies, which sell irrefutably cancerous products add nicotine to addict customers.

              Mathius,

              Everything you consume is a poison

              You remind me of Nick Naylor.

              Who is that?

            • Mathius,

              I have to agree with BF, at least partly here. I think you are taking it differently than I do. It is not in a company’s best interest to have their drugs be ineffective because no matter how fast or slow the patient dies, fewer people will want to take the drug. Given the costs and inability to stop death, they wouldn’t want to.

              The problem is that there is no alternative available. And that is because the FDA owns a monopoly on deciding what drugs you can and cannot take.

              There are many things I don’t think the government can do well. There is a VERY short list of things that I am OK with the government having a monopoly on. Medicine is not one of them. They (along with lawyers, sorry Buck), have absolutely killed innovation in America.

              USW

              • OB Doctor says:

                My problem is that there is a built in conflict of interest with the FDA. The US government is the largest consumer of health care and prescription drugs in the country, yet they control the regulatory body that approves the prescription drugs. Any chance that these approval decisions get politicized???

          • Candy Stone says:

            i think i love you Black Flag……”people – believing that someone else is looking after their interests, stop looking after their interests……and so goes today’s world

        • Mathius,

          Good point about testimonials. However, why is it that you feel that the free market, given the time and leeway to do so, cannot come up with a certification or approval process better than what the FDA has done. Do you simply believe that the US government couldn’t possibly be outdone by anyone?

          Just as important, why do you think that you should have the right to make that decision for ME? I won’t take away your FDA. Why won’t you just tell them to get the hell out of the way of the free market and open it up for competition?

    • G.A.

      You argue that the FDA prevents bad products, yet the evidence provided (and there is a lot more than USwep provided) demonstrates the FDA does nothing to prevent bad products.

      The truth is that the medical industry is America’s #1 killer – by its actions and accidents, kills more people then all other accidental deaths combined.

      FDA is a good part of this problem

    • There were a lot of medical mistakes in that era, GA. Government approved first aid manuals included such treatments as drinking alcohol for snakebites and a host of improper first aid practices. If the FDA had existed, it is likely that they would have approved many of the drugs you mentioned as labelled. The issue was not the lack of FDA, but the lack of science at the time.

      Medical science was not created by the FDA, it was created by people wanting to live longer and healthier. All the FDA does is slow things down and try to direct them. The fact that we cannot utilize medicine known about for centuries and scientifically proven (vitamins and herbs, chiropractic and accupuncture practices, etc.) indicates that the FDA is not only a slowing factor to medical advancement, but a manipulator of medical R&D. Furthermore, one of the largest complaints is that there is no money in a cure, there is money in treatment, thus some regulation should push for cures over treatments that do not fix the issue. The FDA has no mechanism for this, nor does it appear that they have tried.

      I understand you have some personal anecdotal evidence of mislabelling and/or purposeful false advertising. I feel for the people in your family. I do not, however, see evidence that the FDA would have fixed your issue any faster than the market, nor that it continues to do a decent job of it. In the world of lawsuits we have now, I see no reason why a company would try to take advantage of people at the risk of being sued for millions. It just does not make sense. If you are talking about some fly-by-night company that will sell a few thousand pills and then vanish, then, well, you shouldnt be buying some no-name brand from a guy on the corner, nor should the store you shop at.

      • Jon, ask yourself this question; When and why did the auto industry add seat belts to ALL cars and trucks? The same goes for airbag restraint systems.

        Companies DO things only to make money. Car and truck manufacturers make cars and trucks to make money. People and companies purchase only those things that they can afford (government, however, has a track record of buying things that are way too expensively priced). If a product doesn’t sell for some reason or other then they discontinue that product. The same rule applies for all products be it cars and trucks or medicines. The manufacturers of Doans and Carters Pills knew full well that their products didn’t do anything that aspirin couldn’t do, but they sold them anyway as over the counter non prescription medical remedies. Only after the FDA lobbied Congress to write the truth in advertising laws did those products disappear from store shelves.

        Having said all that, I will say that the problem still exists today within the field of medicine and medical insurance. In spite of all our regulatory agencies, there are still people out there that will manufacture a product that will eventually kill you – or haven’t you seen the minutes long disclaimers at the end of medicine commercials lately?

        • G. A. Rowe,

          Ask yourself this question; When and why did the auto industry add seat belts to ALL cars and trucks?

          You have to be the champion of arguing against yourself!

          All cars and trucks had seat belts, but were offered as an option because they cost a lot of money.

          The car companies let the consumer decide whether they wanted them or not.

          “Manufacturers Nash (in 1949) and Ford (in 1955) offered seat belts as options, while Swedish Saab first introduced seat belts as standard in 1958”

          Companies DO things only to make money.

          And killing your customers does not make money

      • They still haven’t fixed cancer, at least they fixed that pesky erectile dysfunction thing. Another example of Govt good intentions vs. reality.

    • G.A.

      Thanks for your candid response and your personal stories. But I have to be honest and say that I don’t think you at all addressed what I was proposing.

      Your mother’s situation is one that I truly believe is sad. And I absolutely feel for what she went through. It should would have been nice if the FDA was around to keep stuff like that from happening. Wait a sec….. the FDA WAS around, yet it happened. Your mother’s story is not a tale that tells us that we need the FDA, it is a story that tells us just how ineffective the FDA has always been. Despite the constant growth and scope and reach, the stories like your mother’s story continue to this day.

      Your grandfather’s story is completely different. But out of context. People had no information accessibility then. Heck the vast majority of people couldn’t read! You really think that we need the FDA to stop charlatans from selling snake oil today? In today’s world, your grandfather would end up as a 20/20 special and either arrested or living in exile. And you falsely give credit to the FDA and AMA as being the reason for the improvements. Heck with the FDA and AMA in full swing, medical accidents and malpractice kills more people than all other accidents combined! And that same FDA and AMA that you feel we “need” helped get the Obamacare bill passed that you absolutely despise!

      But, let me pull it back to my point. Why is it that you believe that the FDA must have a monopoly on the things that it does? Why would you oppose my having the choice to trust someone other than the FDA? I am not asking you to blindly accept my premise and give up the FDA you so direly feel we must have. I am merely asking you to let me make up my own mind about who I want to trust.

      As I recall, you want to go back to what the founders meant. You want to go back to a reset on the Constitution. I don’t recall the FDA being mentioned in the Constitution. So are you instead saying you just want to go back in time only on the issues in the Constitution that are important to you?

      USW

      • I know a lot of people who go down to Mexico on a regular basis to get their prescription maintenance medications that a lot of elderly people need to have a quality of life because of the cost of those same drugs here in the U.S. Therein lies the problem – going for the cheaper rather than the known quantity. You see, buying drugs from Mexican pharmacies is like rolling the dice at a backstreet crap game – you never know wether the correct amount of the drug is in the medication, and in most cases it is not. One thing the FDA does is insure that the correct amounts of the medication are included. If we had your idea of a market driven pharmaceutical regulation, just how many people would have to die from either an unintended overdose or underdose before everyone else understood that this supplier wasn’t regulating his manufacturing line? How would that be handled? By lawyers? With my experience with lawyers over the years, I would say that they would first try suing the doctor because of the “deep pockets” rule – they would take on who they could get the most money from.

        As far as my great grandfather is concerned, after the AMA put him out of business along with many others of his time, he went into the breakfast cereal business with his brother. His last name was Kellogg, and he legally disowned his youngest daughter (my grandmother) for marrying a clipper ship captain that he thought was a pirate (Grandpa Huntley was most likely more honest than his father in law since all he did was transport cargo up and down the west coast of the America’s), and he eventually left the sea and went to work for a logging company and died in a logging mishap in 1918.

        People who were born in that era (of my mother) shunned doctors for more than one reason – mostly because of distrust that carried over from my great grandfathers time. After the formation of the AMA and the FDA confidence and trust in the medical field began to grow to the point where doctors are some of the most trusted people in the world today.

        However, nothing and no one is or will ever be perfect. That is just a fact of our existence. But getting rid of the FDA will not cure the problem, just make it much worse by allowing rip off artists to enter the arena. And they will.

        I have just as much anger toward the FDA as anyone, and not just because of the ridiculous garbage that Doans and Carters was selling from the 20’s to the 70’s. I know of certain treatments for prostate cancer that actually work that are in Europe that the FDA will not allow in this country for whatever unknown reason. Also there is another type of treatment for prostate cancer that is done here, but it is so expensive for doctors to train for it that very few doctors actually do it. It is called robotic surgery. That equipment is soooooooooooooooooooo expensive that there are very few hospitals that can afford it, also. The one that is not allowed uses ultrasound technology that is economical and requires very little training to master and is non-invasive and can be done in the doctors office in just a few minutes. And that is only a small bit of my issues with the FDA. We need to streamline it, not dump it. Just like we need to do with our government.

        Okay, off my soapbox now. Gonna be out of touch for a while, see you in a week or so.

  3. I was reading along, nodding and generally agreeing to most of what was being said until I hit this little chestnut:

    There is a new experimental drug that shows great hope. You are down to a year left. It enters the clinical trial phase. The drug should be approved in 8-12 years. It won’t save your life. You know why? Because despite the fact that you are going to die without that drug, the FDA won’t allow you to have it because they want to protect you!

    False.

    Period.

    End of sentence.

    My grandfather, who died of Parkinson’s a few years back, exhausted the inventory of approved Parkinson’s medications. Over the course of 10 years of treatment, he tried every single thing his doctors could come up with, including unofficial treatments such as off-label usages (this is where a drug is approved for something else, but it may also help with other things – for example, there is a cancer drug that causes eyelash growth which is popular in some circles). Once his heath collapse and his brain had started to turn into a toxic mush, his doctors became desperate. They contacted the FDA and were given experimental drugs. These were not part of any trial. They simply handed him drugs and said “we don’t know what these will do, but good luck.”

    Turns out they didn’t do much.

    • So, I commented before I finished reading the article (something I occasionally have been known to do), and now I have to remove my foot from my mouth. I contacted Joe Biden who, from vast personal experience, was able to advise me.

      USW:
      (and yes I am aware of the case by case “exceptions” that allow a dying patient to take the drug, but why should anyone be able to tell a dying patient that they have to be approved to take it, that they have to wait 6 months for approval, or that they have to be monitored by the FDA? They are DYING)

      To the best of my knowledge, the approval was very quick and relatively standard. But yes, Wep is correct that my grandfather was already terminal before he was allowed to try unapproved drugs. Who knows if one of those drugs might have saved him if he had taken it at an earlier stage. So, alas, I must offer a partial retraction.

    • Mathius,

      So your “false” declaration again shows how contradictory you are!

      No matter how hard you try, you will die eventually

      • I will not die. I will have my brain digitally backed up and stored in multiple off-site locations well before my biological “death.”

        But yes, I was perhaps too hasty in my declaration of FALSE. A better declaration might have been “misleading.” As he does say “that they have to wait 6 months for approval” which was certainly not the case with my personal experience.

        • I don’t think I want my brain backed up until they make some really good junk filtering software. I would hate to think of the number of useless terrabytes most of our brains would consume….:P

          • Worry more about compression. To do live updates wirelessly would take massive bandwidth.

            And also consider what Easter Eggs the brain storage companies might add if you ever use the backed up version.

        • Can I get a copy of the hard drive? I have a few tests I would like to run……

    • Using a drug for off-label use is different than using a drug that hasn’t been approved for anything yet. The off-label drugs have been approved for something. To get access to the ones that haven’t been approved for anything yet, you have to be included in a clinical trial.

      Also, the drug that causes eyelash growth is a glaucoma medication, not a cancer drug.

      • I stand corrected on the Gluacoma – I couldn’t come up with it.. thanks

        As for off-label, I agree. But when those didn’t work they just gave him as-yet unapproved drugs. We tried to get him into a trial, but nobody wanted him. You see, with the number of different drugs in his system and his advanced state, nothing that happened could be attributed directly to the trial drug. (That is, if he got better, it could have been one of the other 50 drugs or a combination/interaction.. If he got worse, it could have been one of the other drugs or a combination/interaction. If he sprouted wings and started laying golden eggs, it could have been one of the other drugs or a combination/interaction.) So he was useless to the scientific community. But there was no harm in letting him dose up on whatever they had on the shelf.

        You know, except for the night terrors one of them had as a side effect…

  4. Buck,

    Lst week you said that employer paid insurance premiums would be included on W-2s but not not actually taxed. Could you post a link to prove what you said? I’m still reading otherwise. Thanks.

    • Buck the Wala says:

      Section 1.106-1 of the U.S. Treasury Regulations provides:

      The gross income of an employee does not include contributions which his employer makes to an accident or health plan for compensation (through insurance or otherwise) to the employee for personal injuries or sickness incurred by him, his spouse, or his dependents, as defined in section 152.

      The above has NOT been changed by the recent healthcare legislation. The only change to the taxation of employer-provided health coverage involves the requirement to provide optional coverage for adult children of employees up to the age of 26 — these benefits are likewise NOT taxable regardless of whether or not the adult child is deemed a dependent of the employee.

      • Thanks Buck. Here’s hoping that’s how it all goes down. Why would the IRS want it spelled out though? I guess it’s because they are the enforcement arm of the whole deal.

  5. As with all areas of government, the FDA is not averse to corruptness either. I’ve only followed it a little bit, but the recent change on the FDA’s part on the breast cancer drug isn’t apparently due to its ineffectiveness.

    http://wizbangblog.com/content/2010/08/22/the-wall-street-journal-the-fda-rigs-the-verdict-against-a-good-cancer-drug.php

    • Grrrrr! My (younger) sister is currently battling a return of breast cancer after going through the whole process..surgery, chemo, radiation and reconstruction. She’s now part of a test group with Karmanos. Luckily her faith and her kids are keeping her as healthy and strong as possible. No thanks to the jerks who keep trying to pull the rug out from under her.

  6. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/FDA-commissioner-says-agency-apf-380640816.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=1&asset=&ccode=

    Never let a good crisis go to waste! 1300 people get sick (none have died that I know of) and over half a billion eggs get recalled…

    Oh, and of course this means that we have to YET AGAIN EXPAND the powers of the FDA!

    Idiocy.

    • Here’s what’s interesting…

      People get uppity that some things make it through the screening process and use this as proof that the screening process doesn’t work.

      USW: How many food recalls due to sickness have we had in the last couple of years, as in the case of 1800 people sickened by eggs last week? Ten cases? Twenty? What about drug recalls because the interactions that were supposed to be tested for were simply not a part of the ridiculous requirements for FDA approval (Fen-Phen or Vioxx anyone?).

      But simultaneously, they complain that the FDA is too expensive and blocks too much.

      USW: Add to that the fact that only about one fifth of drugs that enter Phase one testing ever actually make it through clinical trails and go to market (DiMasi and Grabowski, 2007).

      To me, this this is equivalent to saying: Cops catch thousands of violent offenders, yet some get away. This is proof that the police do a lousy job and should be disbanded.

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Well,

        It seems to me that USW is arguing that FDA does a crappy job at both ends of the spectrum.

        They approve drugs that do not seem to be adequately tested which end up killing people, and the do not approve other drugs which seem to have the potential for helping many people if they would actually get approval. At least that was my take on his 2-sided argument.

        The stuff that gets approval is the stuff that is put forth by big Pharma, and big Pharma seems to get the benefit of the doubt rather than rigorous testing. That is because big Pharma exists due to big Government, and has been given tremendous competitive advantages over any potential competition.

        Have you ever noticed that about 95% of the drugs put out by big Pharma ARE NOT DESIGNED TO CURE A DAMN THING???

        95% of the drugs put out by big Pharma are designed to CONTINUALLY (as in “for the rest of your life”) treat the symptoms of disease rather than curing disease.

        Why?

        Because there is no money in a drug that you take for 1 week and it CURES you!

        If I had to guess, I would be willing to bet that precious little (if any) R&D money goes into drugs that would cure a damn thing!

        It is criminal, but big Pharma (just like big Banking, big Oil, and big WHATEVER) are all the product of big Government.

        Who wrote the “healthcare bill”??? Lobbyists for “big Health Insurance” and “big Pharma”.

        To borrow a phrase from JAC…

        We are so screwed.

        • You are so right, Peter. Pharma is not looking for cures at all.

        • Occasionally we do agree.. ok, so if Pharma (capital P) isn’t looking for cures, why would it start w/o the FDA?

          • Mathius,

            I do not understand your question above.

            • Which question? The assertion is that, for reasons of profit, Pharma is more interested in producing treatments than cures. This is because you will have to take their pill every day instead of just for a week or whatever.

              So, I’d like to know how eliminating the FDA would change this.

              • Mathius,

                Ah, a real question!

                The assertion is that, for reasons of profit, Pharma is more interested in producing treatments than cures.

                I would agree.

                So, I’d like to know how eliminating the FDA would change this.

                Because the FDA is the customer of Big Pharma.

                Who gets “to sell what to who” is determined by the FDA.

                Big Pharma entire existence is to please the FDA and it is not to “cure” you”.

                If the FDA says “this drug will cure you” –whether it does or not– is enough for it to be sold.

                Glaxo chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients
                By Steve Connor, Science Editor
                08 December 2003
                A senior executive with Britain’s biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.
                Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.

                Drugs don’t work: Top professor claims five in six new medicines have ‘little benefit’ to patients

                Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1304118/Top-professor-claims-5-6-new-medicines-little-benefit-patients.html#ixzz0xSOTooG8

                The key question : Who is the customer?

                …and in government medicine it is not you or the People, Mathius

              • Buck the Wala says:

                So you see Mathius, if you can just eliminate the FDA, presto-chango, like magic, these companies will now act to produce cures rathern than treatments.

                Get it now?

              • You know, I think I keep forgetting to consider the Magic Free Market Fairy when I try to think these things through..

              • Buck the Wala says:

                That’s your big mistake here.

              • But you never seem to forget the efficient, effective, and freedom based government fairy….

              • Completely unfair Buck. I made it clear that I would keep the FDA until the market proves to you skeptics that we can do it better in the free market.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                My post was in answer to BF’s claims, not yours.

              • Fair answer Buck. I was reading them in my “webmaster” format which is in order of posting not in reply format. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

                USW

              • Buck the Wala says:

                No worries!

              • Buck,

                It would be only to add to your lunacy to comment any more than this.

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            Big Pharma (with a capital P) only exists because of Government regulation. They use regulation (and often help the government write the regulations) in order to sqeeze out smaller, more agile, more efficient competition. They ensure that the cost of compliance with regulation is prohibitively high, which reduces or eliminates competition. Once the competition has been whittled down to a select few, the drug companies can then decide what projects they wish to work on. The end result is that the drugs which get produced are the ones that treat symptoms long-term rather than curing disease. The drug companies exploit the patent laws to ensure that nearly an entire generation of elderly can be milked by a certain set of drugs. When the patent runs out, they already have a “new” drug in the pipeline to treat the same symptoms of the same disease, and the formulation is different enough that they are ensured a new patent, so that the next generation of elderly will be able to be milked again.

            Only big Pharma and their shareholders benefit from this (and big Government). The people do not.

            Is there a 100% guarantee that pharmaceutical companies in the absence of the FDA would not continue to work on “lifetime maintenance” drugs to maximize their profits? I would think that they still would do this. It is very profitable.

            However, without the current regulatory structure, the OPPORTUNITY would at least exist for those companies that were actually seriously interested in curing diseases to develop and market their products rather than being effectively shut out of the marketplace.

            There is NOTHING in a free market to prevent a drug company from continuing to develop high-profit “lifetime maintenance” drugs… except COMPETITION.

            • That is a much better answer than BF.. I sort of had that in the back of my mind (though not as developed).. Time now to mull it over..

              • Buck the Wala says:

                This is a valid answer and the first actual argument for how and why the free market MAY work.

                When you mull it over Mathius, also ask yourself if you really trust a smaller company to step in to compete with Big Pharma by developing actual cures – if the money is in only the treatments, my bet is the smaller company would only compete by developing cheaper treatments and not working towards a real cure.

              • And ask yourself this too, Buck. If the only result is cheaper treatment and not a cure, how is that worse than where we are now?

              • Because, along with those treatments are any millions of incidental poisonings, frauds, quackery, accidental deaths, worsened illnesses, etc. And also, a host of side effect addictions as morphine/codeine/etc get added to all drugs. (because, hey, addiction sells just as well as medical treatments)

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Actually addiction sells better.

                See: cigarettes

              • But all of those things happen right now under to protection of the FDA.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                A fair point.

                Haven’t had time to really digest this stuff today, but I do feel the FDA needs to be scaled back some and redirected. That being said, I just can’t get behind a 100% free market, zero government regulation/interference/etc. due to to myriad of other doors it would open up as well (as Mathius points to below, coincidentally).

                I have always stood for smart, effective regulation as opposed to the hodgepodge of lobbyist-written ineffective regulations we have now.

              • There you go, with that smart, effective regulation thing. And this brings us to where we are today because smart, effective is a wide open interpretation.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Do you really find the ability to come up with smart, effective regulations in each and every industry to be a pipedream, yet believe the free market would magically resolve all the issues we currently face?

              • I don’t know.. I could see the equivalent of a company like Wikipedia..

                I can honestly see a lot of potential for good out it by the path ol’ Petey lays out, but I think he ignores the other paths that would also open up (namely the psychotic profiteering corporations that would see all kinds of stuff as “buyer beware”.

                Remember, baby cough syrup used to contain morphine, codeine, heroine and chloroform (often combined). Mercury was a good cure for virtually everything, particularly syphilis. And then there’s this:

                Developed by the Bayer Company of Germany in 1898 […]. Heroin, which is four to eight times as potent as morphine, was originally used as a cough suppressant and narcotic analgesic but proved to be even more addictive and have worse side effects than morphine and codeine. […] Heroin has greater lipid solubility and is able to cross the blood-brain barrier more easily. In the United States, heroin was sold over-the-counter as a cough suppressant until 1917.

                Yea, that’s Bayer, as in Bayer Aspirin

              • Mathius

                Please tell me you recognize the fallacy of this example as an argument.

              • Nope, sorry. By the way, before they changed their name, Bayer was known as IG Farben – a pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate that allegedly sponsored experiments by Nazis.

                Talk about the free market…

              • Mathius

                The fallacy of assuming that people in the PAST have the same knowledge as those today.

                You had better study up on your German companies my friend. IG Farben and others were linked to some bad things.

                But they also saved the world from starving to death.

                And of course you commit another fallacious argument by presenting the actions of companies under a fascist system as somehow proof that they would act the same under a free society and free market.

        • Peter,

          “It seems to me that USW is arguing that FDA does a crappy job at both ends of the spectrum.”

          You nailed it exactly. Thank you for answering that earlier than I had time to.

          USW

  7. Just a simple example of what happens on the food side of things:

    Anyone ever heard of Stevia? It is a sugarless sweetener. In refined form, it tastes as good or better than the average artificial sweetener, it has no known side effects, unlike nutrasweet and other artificial sweeteners on the market. Stevia is not manmade, it is a plant.

    Of course, since it is simply a plant that no one made, the FDA had no real control over it and would not approve it to be sold as a sweetener. For decades it could only be sold as a supplement of unknown usage in herb shops. Meanwhile, it was ok to be poisoned with various chemical sweeteners.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/022234.html
    http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_119.html

  8. Let’s look at the recent egg recall as an example.

    It appears there is little that could be done to detect salmonilla in eggs prior to folks getting sick. If cleaning procedures are followed there can still be infected eggs.

    But WHY RECALL all the eggs of a producer?

    The vast majority of people will get sick and then get well. Some may need antibiotics but most can recover without it. The eggs could be cooked completely, killing the bacteria. Or, people could just throw them away.

    All eggs are potential carriers, regardless of whether factory or home farms. Yet we expect the Govt to take action and spend money accordingly.

    Here is some info. on how eggs become infected. It will show why it is futile to expect fool proof inspection.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100818/sc_livescience/howdoessalmonellagetinsideeggs

  9. On another note but still in the ballpark for this thread;

    My insurance requires that I have a Primary Care Physician (PCP) AKA family doctor, yet Obamacare dictates what that doctor can be paid per visit, etc. The Obamacare policies have reduced my doctors income so much (or will in the near future) that he now has joined a doctors organization that requires an annual fee for patients to remain in that doctors care. To get away with that scenario, the doctors organization claims that this group of doctors concentrate on preventive (or promoting healthy lifestyles) medicine rather than reactive medicine (reacting to illnesses). As a result of that annual fee I can no longer afford that doctor. Ah, yes, how we love these modern times . . . . . . . .

    • Yet, under my proposal, you could continue to find a way to do what you are doing, or, AT YOUR OPTION, you could seek a free market alternative. You are frustrated because you are hamstrung by a government monopoly that is crippling you, but you scoff at a solution that could possibly offer you an alternative.

      I am not sure I understand why.

  10. If Fen-Phen & Vioxx passed FDA approval, how did those people get sick by taking fully vetted FDA drugs? And since the FDA approved them, why can they be sued?
    Oh, so the lawyers(John Edwards) can get rich and either donate or run for congress to insure their racket remains protected.

    http://www.triallawyersinc.com/healthcare/hc01.html

    litigation over pharmaceuticals and medical devices exacts a staggering cost on an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy. Wyeth’s massive reserve for Fen-Phen litigation is $21 billion,[6] and Merck’s exposure to Vioxx lawsuits may total as much as $50 billion.[7] Such figures are astronomical in comparison with these companies’ individual budgets, representing nine to twelve times each company’s annual research and development costs.[8] In fact, since each drug was only widely used for about four years, the approximate annualized liability cost of these two drugs comes to almost $18 billion—equivalent to 10 percent of the annual revenues for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole

  11. Two more stories on the radio today.

    OSHA fines Sea World Orlando big bucks for “safety violations”, accusing the company of “forcing trainers to work with killer whales under unsafe conditions”. OK, I am a killer whale trainer. There are only a few jobs in the world like this. They are wild animals that can kill.

    Next up, more on the egg recall. FDA said today that if their NEW egg inspection standards had been in place a couple weeks ago they “might have prevented the salmonilla outbreak”. OK, lets review the post I made above about how eggs get infected. Also review USW’s article about how the FDA likes to play off a “crisis” to impose more controls.

    Lets see, the eggs got infected on your watch, you had new rules coming you knew about in advance, yet you could have caught the bad eggs if ONLY the new rules were in place.

    I would have stopped that guy from shooting the innocent people if only the new rule requiring me to stop crazy people from shooting innocent people had been in place, last week.

    • JAC,

      As I recall, everyone who works with the Orcas at Sea World are considered at the top of the game. It is a highly sought after position. So how exactly are they being “forced” to do so? Also, is there a “safe” way to get in the water with a killer whale?

      As for the second topic there, I only say that this is exactly what I am talking about when I say they have to capitalize on EVERY crisis.

    • I heard on the TV last night -that two other people were killed by this same whale. I’m thinking maybe they should have retired him after the first death.

  12. Ray Hawkins says:

    @USW – you may not have seen this article prior to your posting – it offers I think a slightly different view on several things you are offering as fact. Time Magazine is usually fairly reliable in terms of facts. The article shows how one company (GSK) has played the FDA with respect to a single drug (Avandia).

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2010028,00.html

    The article is also important in showing how difficult in may be for a USW Labs to actually have any effect whatsoever when it comes to offering some sort of seal of approval. I am not sure how USW Labs scientists would find adequate funding to perform their own efficacy testing for drugs wherein it is always cost prohibitive to do so.

    Like I said – just read the article.

    Other points…..

    The area where I live has become a hotbed for small pharma – and is a sorta former hotbed for big pharma (GSK, Wyeth, Shire, Teva, …….). I cannot count how many people I know that work in pharma – many tell a similar story that small pharma is where all the real work happens nowdays – where newer drugs are developed. Large pharma has become more/less holding companies – the market is consolidating since its easier to rely on the smaller guys that operate with less company bureaucracy – they focus on one thing only, produce a potentially great product, then sell out to the highest bidder. Maybe a big part of the “bring it to market cost” is because they are paying to acquire companies and their IP versus developing it organically? Just sayin’

    I continue to be completely flummoxed and astonished by this – roll with the free market it’ll solve all our worries notion. Even USW could not go all the way on this (first he says go free market, then he says keep FDA around until the free market can show everyone how much the FDA really does suck – so which is it? Can’t have your cake and eat it too – you have to know that a free market is not free unless it is free right?). The issue is right in front of you – the companies COULD produce cheaper and safer drugs (in re: Time story) – they could MEET AND EXCEED any safety and testing requirements that exist today or will exist in the future. THEY CONSCIOUSLY ELECT NOT TO DO SO!

    I get it – I really do – a dead customer is a customer who spends no money. But for every consumer they help shepherd into the grave sooner there are 10 more waiting in line hoping and praying that GSK can shit out a silver bullet for them. Bottom line – they really don’t give enough of a shit. “Some” dead customers are part of the value chain.

    (A) It’s broken, we empower the right people to fix it.
    (B) It’s broken, we toss it, let “the market” organically develop something
    (C) It’s broken, I don’t know really how to fix it, but I will fix it anyway and wrap some clever free market-ish stuff around it to sound, uh, populist?

    Thanks & Good Night

    • Ray,

      I will read your article and comment on it later when I can. For now I will offer rebuttal to your claims about my “waffling” on the free market.

      I did no such thing, sir. I am completely confident that the free market would find solutions and do what the FDA does better, faster, and more effectively than the FDA does it. What I also understand, and the point that you apparently missed in my article, is that a good portion of the American public doesn’t believe that the free market can do so. My offering was not free market but then, oh wait keep the FDA. It was an acknowledgement that there are a sizable amount of people who are not comfortable without the FDA because they don’t believe in the free market. So my solution was to keep the FDA so that those, like you, who scoff at the free market despite government’s complete inadequacy in providing quality can still choose to live as subservient to a corrupt FDA. Simultaneously open the market and allow other solutions to emerge. If the free market fails, as you are sure it will, then what have you lost? The FDA survives and presses on telling you what you can and cannot do to save your own life. If the free market does it better, as I believe it will, you will then have proof that it can do so and you can decide then whether you still want to live under the thumb of Washington bureaucrats who are in bed with the pharma companies.

      I am not quite sure how you ascertained that as waffling or changing my mind somehow. That was the premise of the article from the very first paragraph. So instead of your inadequate choices I offer

      (A) It’s broken, we empower the right people to fix it. (and how long are you going to beat that drum. The “right people” haven’t seemed to appear to fix it for the last 100 years, yet you think they wil magically show up and teach government something new now? And you think the free market is a pipe dream?)

      (B) It’s broken, we toss it, let “the market” organically develop something (that would work for me, but not for a lot of others, hence why I offered a two-step solution that apparently scares the crap out of people who are devoted to government having a monopoly on solutions)

      (C) It’s broken, I don’t know really how to fix it, but I will fix it anyway and wrap some clever free market-ish stuff around it to sound, uh, populist? (I offered a solution not tried before. You offered….. ridicule of that proposal rather than a respectful discussion around it and then support for a solution tried for a hundred years and failing miserably)

      (D) It’s broken, we open it up to the market and see if a solution is devised that fixes it.

      I am not sure what it is that you are afraid of. It seems that the universal answer is to ridicule me because I choose to not believe that the government can do it best. I won’t ridicule you for continuing to believe that the government can do it best, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

      I have to say that I am a little surprised at your mockery of my idea, and a little disappointed that you were not willing to consider something different than the failure we have. Perhaps America is lost if smart people like you are so transfixed that they don’t have the capacity to even consider the alternatives.

      USW

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        USW

        1. You need to better explain what you mean by “Free Market” – an economic system that allows the FDA to persist is not going to easily/readily allow something competitive to coexist. Entry cost to maintain control and independence of your work would be astronomical.

        2. My critique of your approach is not from fear of something different or new – I really don’t think you’ve thought through the costs, the variables, the acceptance, etc. What you see as people picking on you is me simply saying you’re asking me to chew off an a rather radical idea presented in one paragraph. Tackle even one aspect of it USW – how will you produce reliable test data?

        3. A free market cannot “mandate” that companies use any testing at all. Speed bumps can be seen as a barrier or a safety measure. When dealing with someone’s health they should be seen as a safety measure.

      • USW, I believe a lot of the arguement I see coming from those against the free market system are because they are afraid for the general public to step out on their own without government oversight.

        They seem to be afraid to do ANYTHING with out big brother looking over their shoulder. As if Government gives a damn about them in the first place. All the FDA cares about is keeping their high paid government jobs.

        I do not say that they were not started with good intentions. But I do say that their oversight has grown out of control. And that it doesn’t work anyway. So exactly why do we still have them?

        One word.

        CONTROL

        • Beck Worshiper? Bah hahaha hahaha, OMG!!!! That will fix em 🙂

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          @Beck Worshipper

          Odd words coming from a guy who works for the government. Filled with any self-loathing lately? 🙂

          But to entertain you a bit……

          If the folks at FDA wanted to make a lot of money they wouldn’t work for the FDA – they’d work in industry – I’m sure there are other reasons they work there (but you already know that from personal experience right?).

          Its an easy potshot to take to say that “generally” those of us that debate the merits of the “free market” are somehow living in fear, afraid of losing big brother and whatnot. Unfortunate for you it is more complex for many of us than that. There are services and needs we have as a nation that require a monolithic approach. The problem many of you seem to have is that you refuse to define what in your mind, a “free market” is, and if relevant, in what phases of the advent of a free market your debate resides. Folks like to point out that “if men are evil why would you expect said evil man to keep other evil men in check” – for me its easy – its called the rule of law. Laws can be used in a multitude of ways for the benefit of society, for our great Country. When we neglect to properly use or apply them, the easy way out, with respect to monolithic institutions is to dump them. As my friend Chris Devine has said – a Democracy is not meant to be easy. If it were everyone would do it no?

  13. I am a little disappointed with day one of this topic. There were a lot of what I would term “knee-jerk” reactions against eliminating the FDA. I understand that the normal thing is to fear such a change, as it flies in the face of what “they” have always told you is needed.

    But little to no discussion so far about what I have actually proposed here, which is making the FDA voluntary, not gone. Suppose that I were to accept all of the arguments here (which I don’t and will try to answer this evening), I still don’t understand the reluctance to open up the market to new solutions. All you folks who believe in the FDA, or even believe in the ability to create effective regulation, you can keep on doing what you are doing. When my private market ends up doing the job better, faster, safer than the FDA, THEN we could talk about elimination.

    It seems that what folks are opposed to is men and women using free will to make choices of their own.

    USW

    • USW

      For the record, I like your idea. It is not far from the one we came up with years ago for the forest mgt gridlock. In that case we wanted to turn mgt of part back to the states to see if they would do better.

      I think Ray brings up a good point, indirectly. That is how USW Labs will get funding when the big boys would probably want to keep using FDA Labs certification. After all, they have that game figured out.

      Perhaps some of the big name non-profits fighting cancer, heart disease, etc might like to chip in a little.

      I am curious though how your lab would set its standards. Drugs don’t react the same to everyone. And we certainly can’t strive for 0% risk. Have you given this more detailed thought?

      Food is much easier in my mind. It either contains toxins or it doesn’t. The nutritional claims are accurate or they are not. But medicine has a different purpose and demand.

      • JAC,

        I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into the “USW Labs”. I was actually just using it kind of a lame (apparently) example of how a free market might react to being open to competition. Ray brought up a great point, in my opinion, around the financing. I don’t know if it would work or not. I don’t even know for sure that the free market would do what we want it to do. But I don’t see how we can argue against allowing it to try. I have great faith in the market and the innovation that comes from there. Would the FDA win the challenge? Who knows. But I firmly believe that the American people would be clear winners if they were given the freedom to make their own choices in the matter. A government monopoly is never a good thing.

        USW

        • The ASTM and USP are financed by the member companies and individual member dues. Much of the work done is by volunteers often company sponsored. Goverment agencies also send members to the these meetings and the government may contribute some grant money. As an individual, I pay $50/yr to be a member of 2 ASTM subcommittees. My company contributes my time to be active in developing standards of interest to us. I represent an instrument vendor. Other members of the committee represent petroleum companies while others represent the federal and state EPAs. It is almost a certainty that you have purchased gasoline that was tested by an ASTM method that I helped write. So private standard organizations could fill the role.

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          @USW – I would be equally concerned if the current system were “jail broken” how large companies such as GSK would even further jackpot the consumer. Don’t forget how much money these folks dump into marketing to ensure their drugs are prescribed and used. I worry greatly that with as bad as it now, putting more players in the market and ridding government control would make it far far worse.

    • Ray Hawkins says:

      USW – you’ve offered almost no details on a counter to the current scenario – if this were a business plan it would be rejected. Sorry to be so harsh – but I cannot debate marketing schlock.

      • Ray

        The basic question is whether you are opposed to allowing a private effort to develop that would compete with FDA.

        That is a pretty simple question.

        The details really don’t matter as that is part of what would develop IF it were allowed.

        • Buck the Wala says:

          The devil is in the details…

          • Buck

            No it isn’t.

            The proposal is that the FDA remains in place.

            Congress simply allows a private entity to do the same thing.

            The details will develop in response to the problems and challenges as they arise.

            It is really quite simple.

            If the details can’t be worked out the competitor will fail and FDA remains King. But if they are worked out, perhaps both exist or FDA dies a death of irrelevance. Or as suggested, it morphs into something else.

            When dealing with basic concepts the details to address all future possibilities are irrelevant.

            • Ray Hawkins says:

              JAC – you don’t develop requirements after-the-fact. Figure-it-out-as-you-go-along may work in corn mazes, not in business.

              • Correct Ray. But you are completely misdirecting the issue. The question is simple. When those companies want to form in the free market, investors will require them to provide the details. But you already know that.

                You are attempting to apply business acumen to a simple question of opening the market to competition. The details and business plans will come from those who enter the market if they want to succeed. You don’t need details to determine whether it is a good idea for a completely inefficient and ineffective government model to be challenged by the private markets.

                USW

              • Ray Hawkins says:

                This posting a just a retort – the more germane subject matter is below. BUT – I can say we suck at Defense because we waste so much goddamn money at it – anyone on board for opening it up to the free market? According to you I don’t need any details for others to evaluate if that is a good idea or not. Sounds kinda silly doesn’t it?

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          @JAC – I don’t agree with your premise but will play along for S&G’s

          I WHOLLY support the base concept of a non-government entity to replace what the FDA does – it would likely take several different entities to actually do it well. The mission-as-is is way too broad.

          Details do matter. A robust and detailed set of business requirements, value proposition, audit and integrity procedures and results definition should be clearly transparent from the get-go – else I personally would view it with too much skepticism to believe it.

          What USW proposed is an epic fail. I need something more than that.

          • Ray Hawkins says:

            Let me add also – there should be 3-5 players in the market – too many and there is market confusion for the consumer (and more risk) – too few and you’re back to square one. Either make it monolithic and do it with EEE and precision or break it down and establish rules of the game that can be independently and transparently verified.

      • Ridiculous premise Ray.

        You basically say to me that unless I can give you a perfect alternative that you cannot shoot a hole or two in, then you will continue to support the standing orders that are full of holes all over the place.

        It has become far too common that in order to eliminate the ideas that oppose the failures of today, the tactic is to demand some sort of perfection or detailed plan.

        It doesn’t take details. The question is simple and requires nothing OF you. Why can you not support opening up the FDA to competition so that we can see if smart business people can do better when government isn’t tying their hands. I don’t know what they will come up with, but how does it hurt to see what happens?

        • Ray Hawkins says:

          @USW – I’m not asking for a business plan USW – you know that. There are some deeply complex issues and well entrenched interests that would make “Eliminating the FDA is a Must” a rather gargantuan task that runs the risk of replicating what we have now on a scale far worse than what the FDA is capable of.

          My suggestions (if you are going to revisit this)

          1. Pick 3-5 core issues we currently have with respect to FDA – how will a free market approach resolve those issues? Financing is one issue. Test data development/integrity/analysis may be another, consumer protection/rights, the role of law/government (if any) – these may be issues as well;

          2. Define free market – I see a lot of people post what amounts to a “yeah, guvmint sucks, free market rules, true dat!”. Hell – maybe include a definitions page on your blog that establishes a base of what debates should use – if you’re not going to use the USW/SUFA agreed-upon-definition then you must say so.

          3. Part of folks accepting a new way to think of something is to conceptualize and visualize impact and what “it” means to them. That is why at least SOME details are needed. Otherwise the debate will just drift (as it seems to sometimes) and we degenerate into a bunch of what-ifs.

  14. Sorry about being so late to the discussion but since it will resume again tomorrow maybe I can add a few things. I have some history with drug companies, the FDA and my wife is a consumer of approved drugs since she has multiple medical problems.

    There is a book on the market called the “The Emperor’s New Drugs.” It details the “approval” of modern antidepressents such as Zoloft, Proxac, etc. These are drugs that supposedly control seritonin and dopamine in the brain. The author reanalyzed all the published studies on these drugs and came to a totally different conclusion than that stated by the companies or the FDA. He shows that the effectivness of the drugs is marginally better than a placebo. In fact even this improvement is theorized to be psychological rather than real. After publishing this result, he discovered that there were many other clinical trials that were not published, some submitted to the FDA or its European counterparts, that had negative, null or inconclusive results. These studies were either dismissed by the FDA or buried by the drug companies. His final conclusion is that these classes of drugs do not work.
    My personal experience is that my wife has been on these types of drugs for 20 years in addition to antipsychotics. About ten years ago she developed Parkinsons like neurological problems that were progressively getting worse and tending towards a terminal solution. After a fall resulting in a severe blow to the head and a two week coma with removal of all drugs, she recovered with many of the Parkinsons symptoms significantly reduced or gone. Unfortunately, the mental health issues came back after 6 months necessitating use of the drugs once again and the re-emergence of many of the Parkinsons type symptoms.

    Reading through the many studies on these drugs, I have often been (un)impressed by the small improvements they make and yet get approved. Quite often, drugs can be effective in only 10% of cases and even then with minimal improvements to the patient. Doctors try one drug after another to find the effective one. Of course in the meantime the body may have healed itself but that last drug is credited with win. If your mechanic only fixed your car 10% of the time and then only made marginal improvements, would you continue to use him?

    There is something wrong with the approval process that allows negative or null studies to be omitted/hidden from the public and the FDA. If this deception occurs in the regulated scenerio, would in not be worse in the unregulated one?

    I often turn on the radio on Sunday morning and hear infomercials about various health products. Many have claims that are just too good to be true. So despite the FDA’s rules and regulations, snake oil is still being sold. If you don’t believe, then I will sell you a product to clean out your innards.

    My company sells instruments to big pharma. One of the big concerns in the market right now is counterfit/contaminated drugs and drug precursors. Precursors are the basic chemicals that drugs are made out of. Many of these precursors are now made in Asia for financial reasons. The FDA now requires analytical inspection of all feedstocks used in drug making as a result.

    As for USW certification, there are standards organizations that already address some of these issues. One is the ASTM and the other is the USP (US Pharmacopia). Some of you may have seen “USP” used as a level of purity for chemicals. I am a member of ASTM and have and am actively involved in developing standards for the petroleum industry. These organizations while slow can develop some good work. It remains up to the companies to use the developed standards correctly and in a fashion they can defend legally.

    Quite often, much simpler and cheaper solutions are overlooked because they do not have the sexiness or the profit or the “modern” chemical solutions. I think China in some ways has a better approach to medicine as they often try to scientifically develop the old herbal remedies.

    Above there were many comments on drug companies looking for prophylactic drugs rather than cures. That is only partially correct as they have given us vaccines, antibiotics and many other drugs that cure or prevent disease. I don’t think any of us would want to go back to 1900 medicine. This perception may be due to the fact that many of the simple diseases have been cured or prevented leaving only the chronic and difficult ones. As a result, we treat the symptoms rather than the problem because we do not understand the problem.

    It’s late and I am rambling. So let me close by going back to the topic. I think the FDA’s approval stamp should be removed. They should not be deciding which drugs or foods should be marketed. However, I do see a role for a watchdog agency that sets minimum standards for testing, effectiveness, and reporting. Honesty would be high on my list. Any company that falsifies data or results or hides information and results should be severely punished. It would be a companies decision to market their product. Smart companies will only do so after meeting all the standards that apply. The only problem is that FDA standards can be vague and obtuse, hence useless.

    • Dale A Albrecht says:

      Years ago my wife and I were in a serious car accident. I’ll not get into the story about how the hospital refused to admit me, and I had a fractured neck and three broken vertebra in my back. Her injuries included, a fractured skull, dislocated jaw and shoulder, six broken vertebra, fractured femur and crushed knee. She was release two days later because everytime they tried to put her in a position to take xray’s she passed out. The hospital destroyed all records so there was no tandible evidence of incompetence. She was ultimately out of work almost two years recovering. But that is not the story. Several months into her recovery, she suddenly lost all her equilibrium and most of her ability to see straight. After months of testing the head of the neurological department at the UVM Medical center proclaimed that she had multiple sclorisis. In fact so bad he said she would be DEAD within two years. We demanded a second opinion and the medical center refused. We went on our own to Mass General where we heard of a research team studying the disease. They said save yourself a trip to Boston and please send a copy of the medical records. About two weeks later, the team sent their opinion. They layed out the three major symtoms and causes of the disease. Severe trauma (that she had) Stress (that she had) and toxic poisoning, somehow causing the delamination of the myelin sheath. They had reviewed all the medications the UVM medical center was pumping into her. They bet that she just had a symtom and not the actual disease due to the fact she had an untold number of drug combinations in her system. They said stop all medications and take only Advil or Tylenal and her problem would disappear within weeks. That was twenty three years ago and she has not had any problems since the FDA approved and expert perscribed poisons were flushed from her system.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Dale – some questions:

        1. Did the FDA prescribe or inject your wife with the medication(s)?

        2. Are the medications still in use? If not, why?

        3. Have you considered the role of the pharmas who manufacture the drug(s) your wife was given and the effect their influence may have had on diagnosis and treatment?

        4. Do you believe that having someone other than the FDA approve the drugs used on your wife (e.g. a privately held company) would have resulted in a different outcome all other things remaining the same? Why?

  15. USW Said:
    Good point about testimonials. [That the only source of information regarding efficacy/safety will be (easily google-bombed) word of mouth.] However, why is it that you feel that the free market, given the time and leeway to do so, cannot come up with a certification or approval process better than what the FDA has done. Do you simply believe that the US government couldn’t possibly be outdone by anyone?

    The free market is.. good… but not great at getting good products to consumers. To clarify, it is great at getting products to consumers, to filling every conceivable perceived niche, but those aren’t always good. I used to example above of children’s cough syrup which contained chloroform, morphine and heroine – it was, no doubt, highly effective, but not a good idea to use on young children.

    Today, there are literally Billions (big B) of dollars to be made in the “holistic” or “herbal” or “natural” remedies market, but test after test after test has shown the overwhelming vast majority of these to be nothing more than expensive placebos. So why do people continue to buy? Because the companies which produce these have spent millions upon millions convincing the public of their miracle cures.

    * acupuncture,
    * Alexander technique,
    * aromatherapy,
    * Ayurveda (Ayurvedic medicine),
    * biofeedback,
    * herbalism,
    * holistic nursing,
    * homeopathy,
    * hypnosis,
    * meditation,
    * naturopathy,
    * osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT),
    * Qi gong (internal and external Qiging),
    * reflexology,
    * Reiki,
    * spiritual healing,
    * Tai Chi,
    * traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

    All frauds. The studies don’t back them up. Yet they are multi-billion dollar industries based on word-of-mouth and deliberate mass-manipulation of the gullible public by soulless profiteers. I am sure that some small portion of these is actually effective, I wouldn’t rule out 100%, but 99% is placebo and that, my friend, is Science!

    Why am I pointing this out? Because these “treatments” are mostly harmless. Someone waves a crystal over you and chants. It doesn’t make you sicker (mercury treatments), addict you (heroin as cough suppressant), etc. But if you take the gloves off, the public is going to see a new set of miracle cures (all stamped with the “not FDA evaluated” note, which millions of people will ignore). And good information on these treatments will be next to impossible to find.

    In ye olden times, when a transcranial lobotomy was seen as a cure-all for mental illness, people didn’t care much about the fact that it wasn’t FDA approved. People said it worked, so poking a pick into your child’s eye and rooting around in their brain with a stick was just swell. Now imagine that with modern technology. Technology amplifies everything. (Think, again, heroin vs morphine – same basic drug but we engineered heroin and it’s far more dangerous) What would we come up with today? Here, I have a miracle cure for morning sickness, but your children will be with a 25% chance of survival and a high rate of birth defects if they do (Thalidomide) though I probably won’t have done enough research to know that second part until it’s too late, sorry but I did tell you that the FDA didn’t evaluate it. Note, not incidentally, that the FDA refused to approve this drug and the harm was contained to members of the clinical trial. But if the drug could have been marketed without FDA approval, there would have been far, far more Thalidomide-babies.

    1962: FDA inspector Frances Oldham Kelsey receives an award from President John F. Kennedy for blocking sale of Thalidomide in the United States

    Just as important, why do you think that you should have the right to make that decision for ME? I won’t take away your FDA. Why won’t you just tell them to get the hell out of the way of the free market and open it up for competition?

    Sounds good to me, actually. But let’s modify your idea, shall we? I think yours is too simplified.

    Step one, new medicines are all required to complete at least round one of the FDA approval process. Pass or fail, the results are posted on their website. If the drug fails and the manufacturer wishes to sell anyway, they must include a warning label

    WARNING: This drug failed round one of the FDA approval process due to possible side effects: may turn your skin purple, may cause full-body hair growth, and may occasional uncontrollable yodeling.

    WARNING: This drug failed round two of the FDA approval process and may not, in fact, be any more effective than a sugar cube

    or

    FDA Approved

    Step two, new medicines are all required to complete at least round one of an approval process at the FDA or at a licensed and approved comparable private organization. These results will be posted on medicines. If it passes all tests, it will be treated the same as FDA approval, if it fails, it can be sold with the above warnings. No testing company will be permitted to have any other business or financial links with the company being tested (so Pfizer can’t have its own testing company for its drugs).

    Step three, IF upon a thorough review, the private companies have a sufficient track record, the FDA may be disbanded except for purposes of maintaining licensing of the approved private orgs. So, instead of doing the checks themselves, they will simply exist to make sure that the people doing the checks are doing their jobs and following the guidelines.

    Step four, licensed and approved private orgs may opt for review by E&Y, Price Waterhouse, Deloitte Touche, or KPMG (the big 4) in lieu of the FDA. The FDA retains government funding whether they do any business or not (so as to remove competing interests) though this should be relatively tiny in the scope of government programs. They publish the “official” set of guidelines and procedures for testing new drugs. They may, upon suspicion, launch investigations as needed of Approved Testing Agencies.

    Step five, non-FDA-Approved private orgs may do testing. They may compete with the FDA approved companies. Likewise, a manufacturer may opt out entirely but must note this with a warning label

    WARNING: This drug has not been evaluated by a medical testing agency

    WARNING: This drug has been approved by ::company name::, which holds no certification by the FDA.

    or

    This drug has been approved by ::company name::, an FDA authorized testing agency

    So in summary what we have is this:
    -Manufacturers can fail testing and still sell their drugs with a warning
    -Manufacturers can test in other places than the FDA, but which must be FDA-Approved
    -Manufacturers can test in non-FDA approved places, but must note this fact
    -FDA stops testing, just exists to ensure FDA-Approved companies meet guidelines.
    -FDA-Approved companies may get audited by other firms rather than FDA
    -Manufacturers can opt not to test at all

    I don’t know if I like this.. just sort of thinking aloud…. Because, as Wep said, why do I have the right to tell him what he can and cannot put in his body, and the answer is that I don’t. But I do think that there needs to be a good clear cut set of testing procedures and an agency to enforce them for those of us who don’t want to just take a chance. This gives us five general classifications of drugs:
    “officially” approved
    “officially” disapproved, but available with warnings
    “unofficially” approved
    “unofficially” disapproved, with warnings
    caveat emptor

    • Buck the Wala says:

      Well done! At first blush I really like it.

      Going back to the original question of having private companies compete with the FDA…

      I am fine with having a private effort develop to compete with the FDA, so long as that private effort is required by law to provide ample warnings along the lines Mathius suggested.

      You want a private company to come around and test and market drugs? Fine. But I want either the FDA to license and inspect these private companies to ensure the same standards are being employed, or in the alternative, no FDA licensing but a clear label indicating such to be the case.

      • You want the FDA to licence and inspect their competition? That’s like having the weasel inspect the chicken house.

        • Esom, your new name terrifies me. Please change it back.

          And yes, I would want them to license and inspect their competition as part of their phase-down. Otherwise, a new department could be established for this purpose and the FDA could eventually be disbanded entirely. The effect is the same as far as I’m concerned.

          Any other thoughts?

          • Who is this Esom of whom you speak?

            And on the subject of the FDA, maybe a few PEOPLE to inspect them. Not a Department.

            • A department could be just a few people.. I didn’t throw out a number. But I’m imagining 3 testing agencies to begin with, ramping up to 50+, and that’s going to take a few hundred people working full time. I’d say the total budget would be less than 20 mil.

              Once they stop doing the audits themselves, the budget could drop to around 2-3 mil and have only a handful of staff.

              Work for you?

          • Buck the Wala says:

            To add: the FDA would license SOME of these private companies that arise, at the option of the private companies. This way the private companies can use the label “Approved by a company licensed by the FDA”. Those companies that choose not to be licensed must use the label “Approved by a company NOT licensed by the FDA”.

            • But if they had to follow FDA regulation and policy. What difference would there ultimately be?

              • Maybe they could do it cheaper and more efficiently?

                More to the point, manufacturers could opt not to use them, so if they aren’t economically feasible, then they won’t get used and nothing will be “officially approved”.. then we’d be in the same place as having no FDA

              • Buck the Wala says:

                Precisely.

    • I like USW’s version better, but I could live with this. Like Kent says, if it is on the path to freedom, I am all for it, once it stops, I will still travel beyond it. As far as implementing a stepped down system to get away from the FDA, however, this would be far more politically realistic to implement without freaking too many people out. I think we could actually get people on board for this one.

      • Why, Jon, that’s about the nicest thing anyone on here has ever said about something I posted…

        • Well it was a decently thought out plan that is not such a large removal from our current one, thus more realistic to put in place. It will slow down the free market tho, in comparison to USW’s method.

          Also, I gotta slam you on the first part. What are these studies you speak of that prove that list of alternative medicine to be inneffective? I have seen a great many studies conflicting with that, as well as some personal and associate experience with some of them. I can go along with stuff like Reiki not being real, but homeopathy and acupuncture? I need sources.

  16. Bill Gates will buy the Presidency

    Bill Gates and his ilk already own the Presidency (see Wall Street Bailouts) … the rich and impossible to fail manage to fail and the middle class pays for their failure (permitting them go bive themselves bonuses for failing).

    Remove regulations across the board and we’ll be serfs all over again.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      Charlie,

      The biggest fault with your statement is that the VAST OVERWHELMING majority already ARE serfs, in spite of all the regulations.

      Oh wait, let me re-phrase that to make it actually true…

      The VAST OVERWHELMING majority already ARE serfs, BECAUSE of the regulations!

      There, much better.

      • So close, Pete.. so close..

        The VAST OVERWHELMING majority already ARE serfs, BECAUSE of the regulations, but without the regulations, they would be slaves.

        • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

          No Mathius,

          They would be free.

          That is where your failure to understand fundamentally lies.

        • Thank you, Mathius … but careful with that “slave” talk … BF (God love him) will be quoting Ayn Rand any minute now …

          oy vey …

          • A coal miner in West Virginia generally lived in a company town. He woke up in a company bed situated in a company house. He washed himself with water drawn from a company well and ate breakfast prepared with food bought at the company store. Everything consumed or used by his family came from the company, purchased on credit. The credits used during the pay period only rarely failed to add up to less than the paycheck (paid not in United States currency, but company script.) In debt from his first day on the job, the entire system was geared towards keeping him and his family that way.

            Behold! The Free Market!

            • You already tried that angle months ago and from what I recall it didn’t fly then either.

              JAC: Matt is at it again here!

            • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

              Mathius,

              Persisting in MIS-DEFINING SOMETHING and insisting that your definition is TRUE is not only bizzare, it is insane.

              • I am many things, but I doubt anyone who knows me would categorize me as completely sane..

                Buck? Feel free to weigh in..

              • I’ll weigh in-Peter stop picking on Matthius and inferring that he is insane-it isn’t nice! Debate his points not his sanity. If we debate our sanity, I suspect we would all lose the argument. Unless we are smart like Matt and just admit we are insane to start with-come on try to prove I’m not nuts-come on I dare you 🙂

              • pass the popcorn please 🙂

              • Ooh.. Orville Redenbacher.

                My favorite 🙂

              • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

                V.H. I know it seems that I am singling out Mathius, but you have to admit that mis-defining something and then insisting that the definition you have givin is true is (pretty much by definition) insane, regardless of who is doing the mis-defining.

              • I would say that Matt’s definition is a narrow look at what history shows can come about because of a powerful man’s greed and a totally free market.

                The FDA did come about as a hopeful answer to real problems not just anticipated problems. Any attempt to remove the FDA would have to address the problem of enforcement. Is there a way to enforce needed actions without using a governmental agency. I haven’t had that question answered.

              • Thanks, V!

              • Your welcome Matt 🙂 but you need to remember that people aren’t as helpless as they use to be to greedy power hungry jerks. With a few punches on a computer or a call to the media-help is on it’s way.

              • Buck the Wala says:

                This is true – Mathius is not completely sane. Then again, he never said he was.

            • Been listening to a little too much Tennessee Earnie Ford?

              • You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
                Another day older and deeper in debt.
                Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;
                I owe my soul to the company store…

            • Dale A Albrecht says:

              “16 Tons” chorus line. “tell St. Peter I can’t come, I owe my soul to the company store”.

  17. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    http://www.kitco.com/ind/GoldReport/aug232010.html

    Off-topic for today but more confirmation of exactly what you have been hearing here for months. The US will default by printing more and more dollars in a seemingly endless cycle. It will not be called “default”, it will be called “quantitative easing” or “devaluation”.

  18. http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/11/ff_archimedes/

    I saw this article in Wired a while back. It discusses using computer models as a precursor to clinical trials for drug approvals to streamline things a bit.

    I thought it was interesting and somewhat fit with the topic.

    • Definitely interesting! Will be thinking about this for awhile. Would have some good applications I’m sure but you could also make a really spooky movie out of this one.

  19. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Mathius has a fundamental disconnect which we see on display every day. MANY others here have the same fundamental disconnect.

    Mathius believs that people are greedy, lazy, and stupid. Fine.

    Mathius then further believes that people who are greedy, lazy and stupid can be effectively regulated by… wait for it… OTHER PEOPLE!

    This makes about as much cents as a penny.

    • The goal is to give one set of greedy people power on the condition that they keep other greedy people in check. It’s like trying to balance a see-saw.

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Mathius,

        This fundamentally CAN NEVER WORK. The see-saw will NEVER balance.

        The reason is that you GIVE POWER to people only on one side of the see-saw. They are usually relatively few in number, but they have a great majority of the power.

        You attempt to counter-balance this by having a huge number of people with very little power on the other side of the see-saw and hope that the sheer weight in numbers will balance out the power on the other side.

        Then what happens is the stupid greedy lazy people in power will simply seek more and more power until the see-saw tilts fully in their direction, while the entire time the number of nearly powerless people on the other side of the see-saw gets larger and larger.

        The only way to balance the see-saw is to make sure that every single person on it has exactly the same amount of power.

  20. Reading some of the posts here as well as other blogs, I thought a post on Fundamentals is required.

    When a person transitions from believing illusions and fantasy and moves to understanding the Universe as it is, there is a period where that person begins to abandon what he thought he knew – his fantasy/illusion – but is struggling to know something new. It is the “muddled” phase.

    A few (and you know who you are) are displaying this muddled phase.

    So now is the time to bring forth some clarity regarding the basic fundamentals of often-posted concepts.

    Note: — My use of Left/Right is NOT describing political spectrum, but sides of an equation; Left side of the Equation/Right side of the Equation)

    These fundamentals will face the application of human action to determine consequences.

    One such human action, which will be referred to many times, is:
    “What is good for a person will be repeated, what is bad for a person will be avoided”

    There are two, fundamental methods of exchange.
    (1) Win/Lose
    (2) Win/Win

    These fundamentals created a sub-strata of consequences.

    First, Win/Lose.

    The Left side gains at the loss of the Right side.

    This is commonly also referred to as a “Zero sum game”, but that term is an improper understanding and mis-applied here.

    Applying human action, the Right side will avoid this transaction and refuse it.

    Thus, to achieve their gain, the Left must use force/violence on the Right to compel the surrender of their goods and enforce their loss.

    Fundamental consequences:
    – the Right produces less goods for the Left to seize. (Human action of avoidance)
    – The Left will use more force/violence to seize an ever-increasing amount of goods. (Human action of success)

    Eventually, the Right will resist the Left’s use of force/violence with a response of force/violence of their own.

    This will cause either:

    (1) A reversal of Left/Right;
    – those on the Right of the equation win, and become the Left side, and the Left are caused to submit and become the Right side.

    The Win/Lose scenario, however, has not changed fundamentally – only those on whatever side have changed.

    Thus, the Win/Lose scenario re-cycles except at a fundamentally degraded state as the economy/society has been damaged by the previous runs of the cycle. This cyclical flip-flop of sides continues until:

    (2) Lose/Lose;
    – There are no more goods available to seize (destroyed or lack of production due to avoidance) and the economy/society totally collapses. Both sides die badly.

    Important: Win/Lose always ends badly. Such a bad ending is unavoidable if Win/Lose scenarios are enforced and continued.

    Next, Win/Win;

    Both sides of the transaction receive a benefit from the exchange. If one side does not receive a benefit, there is no transactions, a No-Win/No-Win.

    This is fallaciously confused (purposely?) by some political advocates as a loss – but it not.

    Neither side has lost their goods – they still have exactly what they had before the attempt at exchange. Thus, the concept of “loss” cannot be applied.

    This is important because many political advocates will use their fallacy to justify moving the Win/Win scenario consequence of No-Win/No-Win to a Win/Lose circumstance by claiming that the No-win/No-win is a “Lose/Lose”!.

    This nefarious intellectual foolery is incredibly dangerous.

    Using human action, what is successful will be repeated, thus:
    Win/Win scenarios will be repeated by both sides and in great velocity and quantity.

    This creates an exponential increase in the prosperity and life style of all sides and hence of the economy and society in general.

    Exponential growth here is important, and I will be referring to this often. This is not a factor in the Win/Lose – only one side wants to increase the speed, the other side is applying the brakes. This circumstance creates a linear regression, as already described above.

    But when both sides engage in repetition, it is a doubling factor ie: exponential.

    A quick understanding of the power of exponential:

    -Michigan Stadium is the largest football stadium in the USA.

    -I am standing in mid-field with an eye-dropper and you are sitting in the upper most seat of the stadium.

    -I squeeze out one drop of water in the first second, two in the second, four in the third, eight in the fifth, and so on … doubling the drops every second.

    How long will it take to drown you? (That is, fill the stadium to the top with water?)

    Answer: 45 minutes.

    Now, you may think that is fast, but the astounding thing about this example is:

    At the 40 minute mark, you do not perceive any water in the stadium, it is less than an inch deep at that time. In 5 minutes after that, you’ve drowned.

    The point of this lesson is that exponential growth curves have a very long “tail” and then have a sudden, nearly straight up neck. All the “mass” of the growth is back-ended at the neck.

    Another quick story helps understand this concept:

    Lilies on a lake double their growth every day.

    On day 10, the lake is completely covered.

    What day was the lake only half covered?

    Answer: day 9

    Western society has benefited from the exponential growth of Win/Win economics.

    The long tail of the exponential nature that started in the mid-18th century has morphed into the “turn of the neck” in the 20th century.

    It is this long tail that many political advocates claim offers an example of the “problems of Win/Win economics”, but as exampled, it is their misunderstanding of exponential growth and where the “mass” of that growth accumulates on a curve.

    However, they dangerously insist that their misunderstanding is enough justification to introduce Win/Lose economics to “correct” the “mistakes” of Win/Win economics.

    Win/Win economics is sustainable indefinitely and exponentially accelerates, creating exponential growth and prosperity for all society.

    More fundamental causation:

    There exists a number of co-mixing of these two fundamental systems (Win/Win and Win/Lose) – called “mixed” economies. A bit of a discussion here:

    All “mixed” economies exist after the long tail of success of a Win/Win economy has achieved the “turn at the neck”.

    Any attempt at a mixed economy before the neck undermines the Win/Win exponential growth, and forces the economy into the Win/Lose stagnation and collapse. (Example, Russia)

    Thus, the only examples that can exist is one where the Win/Lose economy is substantially introduced after a long success of a Win/Win economy. Thus, we see in modern economies that started substantially as “Free” market, and after a few centuries became infiltrated with “Planned” market philosophies.

    Win/Lose political advocates claim that a Mixed Economy is sustainable, and they are partly right – however, they claim the wrong reason.

    They claim the Mixed economy is “successful” on the merits of their political Win/Lose action – that is, on the “success” of violent redistribution of wealth. But on simple fundamental review as provided above, we can see that this is completely untrue.

    A Win/Lose policy is linear regressed – straight line regression into stagnation, where Win/Win policy is exponentially positive.

    Thus, applying a linear regression to an exponentially positive curve causes the curve to flatten away from the optimum – that is the curve of the neck is less straight up and more flat.

    As long as the resulting curve is still positive, the “mixing” is sustainable – albeit at a far lower prosperity to society than if no Win/Lose was introduced.

    But applying human action, again, to the “Mixed” scenario.

    The advocates of Win/Lose policies continue to see these as successful as society continues to prosper.

    As these advocates believe it is their policy which is creating the success (instead of understanding it is degrading it), they demand more of their policies as time goes by.

    But here is the fundamental point and problem:

    Where Win/Win policy advocates have refused the use of force/violence as part of their policy regime, the Win/Lose advocates demand more force/violence as part of theirs.

    Where one policy group refuses violence while another policy group demands the increases of its use will accelerate the application of Win/Lose scenarios in replacing Win/Win scenarios until the exponential growth of Win/Win scenarios is completely undermined.

    The system then degrades completely to a Win/Lose scenario.

    This outcome was highlighted in the Noble prize winning concepts of Hayek, what he called fatal conceit – that those that advocate for the use of force to “correct” what they see as market failures undermines society because of their conceit and ignorance.

    It was my goal to present some basic fundamentals of human systems.

    All complex societies are derived from these fundamentals.

    When advocates of certain actions within society present their arguments, flush with rhetoric, it is core to address their claims against these fundamentals to make your rational decisions on the merits of their arguments.

  21. As a believer in the FACT that Government NEVER does anything right and that they are never the solution, only the problem, I agree with USW’s article without reservation. Except one.

    Don’t bother leaving the FDA around. Dismantle them. They are worthless. A needless drain on the Taxpayers. The Free Market WILL do the job better.

    To date, the biggest thing we see from the egg recall is once again, a federal agency is asking for more REGULATION. And these regulations will double the cost of eggs and raise the price on everything that has eggs in it. Once again the only losers will be the public.

    On the subject of drugs. I see commercials everyday by lawyers(ambulance chasers) advertising, or I should say TROLLING for customers to sue various drug companies involving drugs APPROVED previously BY THE FDA! The Lawyers certainly want the FDA to stay in place, what with all that money to be made suing the drug companies after the FDA failed to properly test them.

    I have 2 cousins, a mother and daughter, who suffered with severe acne problems. They were prescribed Accutane, which worked great for the Acne on their face. The only problem is, they traded Acne for severe stomach problems and Crohns disease. BOTH OF THEM. They did not know why until the Law Suits started. 1 example of how the FDA failed.

    My Aunt had Lung Cancer. She was denied drugs by the FDA that MAY have helped because they were not approved for use by the FDA or because they might have side effects that MAY have made her sick. This woman had terminal cancer and the FDA was worried that a medicine might have side effects. BULLSHIT. I also MIGHT still have a living Aunt. It was not found too late. She had a chance to survive it, provided she got the drugs that she needed. She finally got her first Disability check the week AFTER she DIED.

    But she was also almost 60 years old. The FDA, hell, the DOCTORS were not interested in saving her. When she found she had cancer. She lost her job and consequently her insurance. Then she wound up on Medicaid. Need I say More? Medicaid’s policy on cancer patients and all that EXPENSIVE oncology medicine is to make them comfortable as they DIE.

    In 2001 I read a article in a medical magazine about all these new gene therapy medicines that were going to be major leaps in cancer medicines. Some were all in human trials and ALL were showing great promisein curing most cancers. In particular Colon, Lung, and Breast cancer. and brain tumors. It was said in this magazine at the time that these drugs were only 2 to 5 years away from the public. Yes they were expensive. The Brain Tumor therapy was 25 grand per dose. A total of 6 doses to complete for a total of $150,000. But hey, they cured a Tumor the size of a softball that was inoperable and considered Terminal in a 12 year old girl. So what is money against that little girl’s life? I HAVE SINCE HEARD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE ABOUT THESE DRUGS SINCE. Why is that?

    IMO, the drugs companies and the FDA do not want some drugs to be sucessful. Why not? Because that would stop the kickbacks to the FDA. That would stop the need for Oncology. Why CURE a disease when you can make all that money TREATING it? Why cure cancer? That would stop being a form of population control. If some drugs were approved people would live longer and create a population problem.

    As far as food goes, the FDA only takes notice AFTER a food poisoning comes up, and when they do, it’s only to demand more power and more regulation for them NOT to do their jobs. If these egg companies were having all these health violations, could not something have been done to them? Why more regualtion? Are you telling me they do not have regulation in place already? I find that hard to believe. Like guns. Try enforcing the Laws in place and not making new Laws to ignore till the next outbreak.

    SO. In Essence. I agree with USW.

    • Never? The government NEVER does anything right? Strong words. Very absolute.

      Care to walk that back a little, or would you like me to give you a gentle nudge?

      • NEVER. I’m not walking anything back. I have totally lost faith in the Federal Government’s ability to govern.

        Too many Lawyers and not enough people with actual business experience. The Government should be run like a business. If not, there should BE no Government.

        • Would you say that Prohibition was wrong? I sure would.

          So I’m pretty sure that repealing it would be considered doing something right.

          How’s that?

          • And then taxed and regulated the shit out of it. Once again overreaching and applying to much regulation.

            • Our benevolent Government has never seen a product they didn’t want to tax and regulate.

              As far as Prohibition, they should never have done it to begin with. A blatant infringment on our Liberty and Freedom.

              • I agree that Prohibition was wrong. I’m not asking about that.

                I think many taxes and regulations (some of which apply to alcohol) are wrong. I’m not asking about those.

              • Dale A Albrecht says:

                Didn’t the government pass the income tax first to cover the anticipated tax losses from alchol sales after the Volsted Act was pushed through to protect you from yourself. Notice the income tax did not go away when prohibition was repealed. Staying away from the depression topic and how FDR saved us with all his programs and spending and increase taxes and regulations that extended the depression until well after WWII

            • I wasn’t talking about taxing and regulating.

              The question is this: Was the government right in ending Prohibition?

              (Hint: This is a yes/no question)

              • YES Mat! 🙂 They were right to repeal Prohibition.

                I was referring to the more modern, intrusive Government we have now. But I didn’t clearly state that. You’d think I would learn.

              • Alright, now you hold still while I help you out of that bear trap you stepped in…

              • Wait a minute now! Do you have ANYMORE examples?

              • You know. Besides where the Govt had to fix their own colossal blunder.

              • I don’t need to. You said never. That’s an absolute. Absolutes only need one counter-example to be shown false.

                Stop squirming and I’ll set you free..

              • Mathius,

                The best thing government does is nothing.

                Thus, when they stop doing something and do begin doing nothing (like ending Prohibition) that is the best they can do.

                Repeat often.

              • But ending Prohibition was an action (they had to pass an Amendment, no?). And it was a good act, no? Or, put another way, it was the right thing to do, no?

                So the claim that they NEVER do anything right is demonstrably false.

              • Mathius,

                Repairing a contradiction does not make the original act good.

                A bad man fixing the consequence of his evil is still a bad man.

                “Doing good” by simply doing nothing does not make the non-doer good.

                Government reversing a terrible decree does not make government good.

              • His claim wasn’t that government isn’t good. His claim is that that they never do anything right.

                As a believer in the FACT that Government NEVER does anything right […]

                “does” —–> Action
                “is” —–> State

                You’re arguing state, I’m arguing action.

                If I break your window, I’m bad. If I fix it, I’m not necessarily good, but the action of fixing it is good.

              • No, the action of fixing it is neutral. It is returning it to its unbroken state. The action of fixing it is better than leaving it broken, but restitution is not good, it is merely returning to zero. You would have to replace the window with a better one to be doing “good”. Since many of the ill effects of prohibition remain, such as the mob, and many of the statutes from around that time, while reduced, still exist, I would say the window is not even really fixed properly, much less upgraded.

                Thus, this is not an example of “good”.

                An example of good would be the protection of freedoms for our citizens.

              • And, Mathius, punishing a misplaced “NEVER” is not an argument either.

              • I gave him a chance to walk it back. He opted to to lie down on the tracks. C’est la vie.

                And I’m not punishing him for the misplaced “never.” I’m punishing him for his new pseudonym.

              • Oh puhlease! I still say the Government NEVER does anything right.

                How is backing up on a colossal f’up necessarily make what they did a good thing?

                They came to the conclusion that not only was the Law being universally ignored, but that the Treasury was losing all that Tax money.

                So I could argue that repealing the Law only gave them the opportunity to further harm the American people. That ain’t good, nor right.

                And now yo’ comment ’bout punishing me for my pseudonym has cused me to emphasize it, and consider making it permanent. 😀

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Mathius,

        I am sure that you can provide examples of things which you believe that government has indeed done right.

        I MIGHT even agree with you, at least to an extent, on some of the examples that you would give.

        The question then becomes, is there a way to organize a society in a way such that we can still accomplish the “right” things without unnecessary use of coercion or violence.

        It is my belief that society COULD be organized in such a way, but obviously that is gonna take some work.

        • See, that’s a different statement. I see how you think the world could be, but I just don’t think it’s feasible. Maybe I’m wrong. Could be..

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

            I was once trapped in the paradigm of “this is the way things are, so this is the way things MUST be”. As a result, even though I knew that government was not a “good” institution, I was convinced that it was a NECESSARY institution.

            My paradigm is different now.

            I do not have all of the answers for how to get from where we are to where I think we ought to be, but in my adolescent and adult life I have seen nothing other than the government amassing more and more power (and debt) and taking away the freedom (and the money) of the people. In my view, this is unsustainable and cannot continue.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Mathius – and to think Beck Worshipper is a government employee – and he claims they have never done anything right. Just sayin’

  22. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    If people wish to have a rational discussion of something, it helps if you avoid making up hypotheticals and then insisting that those hypotheticals in some way reflect REALITY.

    Hypotheticals are ALMOST ALWAYS a version of the worst-case-scenario. Hypotheticals are also MADE UP. As such, they are not real.

    The chance of any hypothetical which you construct ending up having any basis in reality is vanishingly small.

    I have no problem with people constructing a hypothetical situation and discussing the POSSIBLE implications of what MIGHT happen if that hypothetical were to BECOME reality.

    However, if you construct a hypothetical and insist that it is the reality which would 100% for a fact happen under a certain set of circumstances, I am simply going to throw the BS flag (which is not the same as the Black Flag).

    Certainly, NO ONE here can say what would DEFINITELY happen if we were to move from what we have now to a free market. Yes, we all realize that the people who have the power now are highly unlikely to want to give up that power voluntarily, and we all know that this unwillingness to voluntarily cede power is going to cause problems.

    I have no problem with people SPECULATING as to what those problems MIGHT be. However, when you claim that your SPECULATION will 100% end up being REALITY I am automatically going to throw the BS flag and give you a 15-yard penalty for giving us the business.

    I create hypotheticals and I make speculative comments about the future a lot of the time. I also try to make it clear that I THINK that XYZ would happen, and I try to back it up with valid reasons why I think that XYZ would happen.

    When it comes to future events, one can NEVER express absolute certainty.

    However, with certain future events it is possible to back up your speculations with current evidence and past events.

    For example, when BF speculates that the current society will collapse (barring massive fundamental changes), he is basing that on evidence of similar societies in the past that have collapsed, as well as current evidence of things which are actually happening that are obviously creating the conditions necessary for a collapse.

    • Certainly, NO ONE here can say what would DEFINITELY happen if we were to move from what we have now to a free market.

      Bingo … You’re a good man, Peter. Thank you for stating that (and yes, it works both ways). I think too often the assumption that anything the government does is wrong is too easily accepted (and I agree with that declaration in most cases. What I don’t believe is that privatization will work any better and or less worse).

      Now, for more important things … have you recovered from the Bills yet?

      I know, I know … still, I gotta take them (cheap shots) when I can … it’s gonna be a VERY long season in Buffalo.

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        Charlie,

        If the Colts ever won more than one game in the pre-season I would worry.

        The past 12 seasons they have gone 0-4, 1-3, or occasionally 1-4 in the pre-season, and that seems to work out pretty well for them 🙂

      • As a long standing and for life Falcons fan, I sympathize completely Charlie.

        • This could be our Bruce Smith year (except I doubt they’ll be a Bruce Smith around to draft next year … or that we’d pay him).

          I’m seeing 3-13 at best … maybe worse. We’re a shipwreck with Bill (gets the Colts a ring) Polian …

          • The Falcons seem to be working on getting their feces consolidated. FINALLY.

            At least we now have an owner who seems determined to fix them. And we have had at least 3 very good drafts.

    • Peter,

      Good point. I have had similar thoughts on multiple articles. How many hypothetical, worst-case-scenario’s have their been over the years? Peak oil, peak food/overpopulation, global cooling, global warming, concealed carry=OK corral, etc…

      Makes me wonder again and again, why do they believe what the guy with his hand in their back pocket tells them? (You can’t rape the willing)

      Maybe related, the USDA is trying to get all states to adopt NAIS (national animal identification system). Texas has passed their own version, requiring all animals (Benji, Garfield) to be registered, or you are guilty of a class “c” misdemeanor. (way to fight that mad cow disease) The federal version is much more burdensome.

      USW, sorry for so little feedback. I approve, think I used this as one of my census answers, so I thought it was already in the works. I would like to see a complete phase-out of all government agencies, except defense, and am open to considering defense with the proper plan.

  23. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    OK, here is somthing that USW can chew on and probably carry over to open mic night.

    It seems to me that many people (regardless of left/right “alignment”) believe the following:

    “Without Government, there would be a power vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum. Naturally those with the resources would seek to fill this power vacuum. Their motives are almost certainly not pure. They would seek to fill this vacuum to amass power for themselves, and the result would almost certainly be WORSE than what we have now, and would certainly not resemble anything even vaguely like “freedom”.”

    Does that sound about right?

    I know certain ways that I would say that this could be avoided in a free society/free market. Right now, my ideas are not the important ones (since I already know my ideas!)

    What I want to hear is what you all think.

    Would any attempt at a free society/free market end up in a worse mess than what we have now? Why or why not?

    Would there be EFFECTIVE MECHANISMS in a free society/free market to prevent this and preserve the freedom of the people? Why or why not?

    And please, don’t just say, “The Robber-Barrons would eat us for breakfast and you know it!” I DON’T know that. I know that they would probably TRY, but I do NOT know that they would succeed. As such, especially if USW chooses to carry this over to open-mic, please give as many juicy details as you can. Also, if you are one of the people that are pretty firmly convinced that the Robber-Barrons would eat us for breakfast, still make an honest attempt to flesh out how they could be prevented from doing this in a free society.

    I already know that one of the potential results COULD be a totally not-free society and/or a bloodbath.

    Obviously those are the things that we DON’T want, even though we all know that they COULD happen, so try to focus on potential solutions, not worse-case scenarios.

    Thank you in advance for your participation in this discussion 🙂

    • Peter,

      Like opening a warm beer, the speed of the release of pressure is directly proportional to the spilling of the beer.

      Thus, removing government from society must be taken slowly so not to spill blood.

      With careful removal, you can let “nature” take its course and let natural human action gently fill the government vacancy.

      But, “overnight” removal of government violence will quickly explode with a replacement of equal evil.

    • Hopefully, USW WILL use this subject on Open Night. I will doing some powerfull thinking on this topic. (And hopefully will be able to be here to respond)

    • I think processes like USW posted for this discussion should be tried all over, leave the existing system in place, but remove the monopoly. Begin to shift tings like education and charity to the private world, even if it involves some government funding to assist it at first, providing that funding is a significant cut from the current levels.

      An overnight shift to a free world would fail, unfortunately.

      The alternative would be the creation of a totally free state somewhere, preferably within North America. If it goes well (and I am sure it would) it would grow. Such a thing would have to allow for encroachment of existing borders tho.

    • No, I don’t believe any attempt would make things worse-but I also don’t believe that free has to mean completely government free. I would go so far as to say if we don’t make the attempt to slowly turn things around we are doomed, doomed,doomed. We have the advantage of having history. We can look back and see why we started these different agencies, which is why I get a little confused when people seem to want to ignore the past or just shrug those problems off as unimportant. We also can see exactly what these programs turned into, the problems that they created and whether or not they did any good. Now we need to take that information and use it to develop a plan. We have so much technology today in communication. We have a society that is aware and suspicious of false advertising. WE have companies that already make a profit testing and reporting on product safety , they can expand that to report on medicine, etc. We have companies that are well aware of the cost of bad publicity and the cost of being sued. We have books that doctors use that list all medications-would you want your product to state that it wasn’t tested so no one knows the side effects etc. If you were a doctor would you prescribe this medicine. All these things would help to force companies to voluntarily test their products. It’s not a complete answer but it is a start.

  24. Ok, let me try to be abundantly clear:

    The free market is not some super-power-magilistic-fairy-spell-or-potion. Freedom does not do anything specific, it is a state of being. For those who are of a mindset to actively “fix” problems, to find some sort of garaunteed solution and implement it, free market solutions are very counter-intuitive. The fact is that there is no garauntee that the free market will fix the issues that Matt and Buck and Ray bring up. There are, however, a few key factors to understanding why people embrace the idea of the free market and believe so strongly in its “solutions.”

    First and foremost is the basics of what freedom brings to the table. Freedom brings opportunity and risk. Those two are set attributes of freedom. The less freedom you have, the less of the other two you have as well. The risk is, of course, the scary part. Not only is there risk of someone making bad or pointless products and taking advantage of people or even harming them, there is also the risk that things like drug makers working on treatments instead of cures will not be any better than now.

    The other side of the coin, however, is that there is an increase in opportunity. Like it or not, restriction on freedom through regulation, et al also creates barriers to competition, and to potentially life saving or beneficial or cheaper drugs and procedures or other products and services. Smaller companies that have a less expensive method of getting to market will, inevitably, use up some of the capital that would automatically fall to big pharm. Even if many companies seek treatments over cures, for instance, it is likely that there will be a percentage of companies that are actually motivated to provide something that makes life better rather than merely profitting. Such organizations will take away the patients from those who try to only make treatments, thus cutting that market and potentially bringing great improvements.

    You see, while it is true that some people are lazy and greedy and all that, it is not true that ALL people are this way. The fact that non-profits exist, the fact that there are good people in the world, the fact that we have people in history like Jonas Salk and other medical innovators proves that we are not a race of evil. The good, if given opportunity, will cut into the margin of the bad.

    Regulations are designed to fix the “bad” more effectively. Rather than depending on the unpredictablity of a free market system with all of its inherent risks, people seek to find a real fix. The problem is, a regulation does not fix anything. A regulation takes away freedom and opportunity in an attempt to reduce risk. The problem is, it was not freedom that caused the problem, so taking it away does not get to the root of the problem. The problem was caused by the individuals in our species that DO act on evil. These individuals will still exist in either a regulated or a free society. In a regualted society, it takes a little longer for them to perpetrate their evil effectively. Unfortunately, once they have gotten into a position where they can do theri evil deeds, they can do them with impunity because the balance of power is all skewed.

    Distribution of power limits the damage anyone can do. This is why the FDA is dangerous, they have a lot os power and influence. They can take away freedom form individuals or they can approve something that should not be approved and people, lulled into a false sense of security, get harmed in greater numbers. Also, the regulations end up creating monopolies. Much like taxation designed to redistribute wealth, regulations end up damaging the only solutions the market has to offer, while failing miserably to be a true solution themselves. If you doubt this, just look at the current situation with the FDA. Would things be worse without it? It may be impossible to prove that one way or another, but it is obviously not effective, either in terms of cost or results.

    Also, consider that many of the issues where a question is raised “how would the market take care of this”, are issues that exist now, in a regulated world. Most of these issues also exist in more regulated countries than ours. There is, therefore, no precedent for regulation being a superior option. This is why, in my opinion, if there are to be inspection or regulatory departments in government, that they should be able to stand up to competition, that they should not be granted the power of monopoly. Laws should apply both in letter and in spirit to everyone, including government. If a service or product is not permitted to have a monopoly, i.e. antitrust legislation, then the government should not have one either, and for the same reasons.

    The final reasoning for freedom as a concept and a solution to issues is two-fold.
    1) There is no such thing as a superior human. Yes we have heros of all sorts, inventors like Thomas Edison, committed scientists like Marie Curie, great scietific thinkers like Albert Einstien and Stephen Hawking, bold explorers like Ferdinand Magellan or Amelia Airheart, spiritual leaders like Buddha or Jesus, philosophers like Aristotle, artists like Da Vinci or Picaso, servants of humanity like Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale, and the list goes on. Great examples from all eras. People come in all shapes and sizes with different skills and abilities and through talent or experience they become experts in their fields. Still, even the best fighter can be taken out with a lucky shot from a weaker opponent, the greatest minds can fail at a solution yet the right idea comes to a less educated or brilliant mind. We are not all the same, but we are all human, we all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have the same rights, tho we may not all do the smae things with them. We all may try yet some will succeed where others fail. As such, there is no basis for placing one man in charge of another, certainly not one in charge of many. That sort of power is both dangerous and irrational. This does not mean there is no place for societal structure, but the power involved, the authority and the way it is derived must be at the behest of all, never resting on the shoulders of one, no matter how “qualified” others may deem him or her.

    2) There is great power in the collective mind. The idea of many minds and decisions working together is by far the best solution to the great problems of the world. The free market is a means to harness this collective mind, by using the combined effect of individual decisions. This is the only viable method of really harnessing that power. It is akin to computer multiprocessing using machines with minimal connectivity. Each must be set to a seperate task, only transmitting resulting data, not attempting to collectively process things. As humans, we are linked by our language, a very weak and error-laden form of connectivity when compared with the raw computing power of our minds. The alternative to the free market is consensus, a concept that leads to the least common denominator and is generally not considered innovative. Even in cases of science where consensus is used as a measure of accuracy, it is not infallible, this it is less efficient and innovative than the free market, it is less flexible, and it is no more accurate, even when comprised exclusively of so-called “experts”.

    Thus, freedom is a passive state, but the mechanism it allows, the free market, is the most powerful tool we have in our arsenal to combine the thinking power of humanity. It is not managed, thus its morality is based solely on the minds of which it is comprised, but at least no one person’s brand of morality can step on another’s.

    I am still of a mind that rules and laws have a place. I think that the free market does well with some protection. I have not been sold on the idea that freedom is its own protector, nor that there is no place for laws to help curb the evil in men that would violate freedom itself, but basic concepts like the FDA will be better served by a free market solution. It will not be perfect, freedom is not utopian, it is simply the best functional model. All the utopian ideas fall into dysfuntion without united support and understanding of the concept. The free market continues to function regardless. It may not ueild the results we want all the time, but it is up to us to change the results, not by resorting to a dysfuntional system by removing the free market, but by changing the players themselves, first by changing ourselves, and then by teaching and influencing others to do the same.

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