January 13th, 2004
WASHINGTON – Under a new proposal, the White House would decide what and when the public would be told about an outbreak of mad cow disease, an anthrax release, a nuclear plant accident or any other crisis.
The White House Office of Management and Budget is trying to gain final control over release of emergency declarations from the federal agencies responsible for public health, safety and the environment.
To the Editor,
It is official. Our elected government is transmuted into a board of directors for a publicly funded corporation intent upon transferring all its assets to other, private, corporate entities. Access to truth about our products and services will be filtered through the hands of the OMB on the assumption that such knowledge will alter the purchasing habits of the “employees” (formerly, citizens) and interfere with the retirement plans of the Board members.
See you at the proxy fight scheduled for November of this year.
Censorship has long been tolerated in matters of national security. However, when the business of selling products reaches the level of concern formerly reserved for espionage, we must stop making excuses for a leadership that has effectively disposed of both democracy (freedom to know) and capitalism (freedom of choice in purchasing), all in one proposal.
Consumer ignorance has already been mandated by trade secret laws permitting much information to be deleted from product labels. Industry was afraid consumers with access to total product details might either be alarmed at the many untested/unsafe ingredients in them or might choose to manufacture them in their bathtubs, bypassing all commerce. But savvy citizens are able to ferret out the necessary information via consumer groups and through sheer perseverance.
Now data as to adverse health effects of consumer goods will be censored as well as product ingredients. The public needs to know that in 2000, costs due to drug morbidity and mortality exceeded $170 billion dollars*. An executive and researcher of SmithGlaxoKlein (UK), has admitted that only half of prescription drug users benefit from their medications due to genetic differences alone. Does the product insert tell doctors how to cheaply and effectively test patients for these factors? No, we must buy drugs we cannot afford and harm ourselves before shifting to another possible ‘magic bullet’ for what ails us (likely the adverse effects of something we bought or ate).
The goal is to protect private corporations while the increasingly impoverished and sick “employees” of the USA compete for the thin cushion of publicly funded entitlement programs like unemployment, medicaid, welfare and disability.
Enron seems almost amateurish by comparison. They only had policies of secrecy while our corporation can enact executive orders with the power of law. John Graham will decide what is sold and consumers will fork over the money hoping for the best…and getting the worst.
*References: Ernst and Grizzle, J Am Pharm Assoc, 41 (2), 2001
Categories: St. Louis Post-Dispatch