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Friday, February 26, 2021

The FDA, then and now

The FDA building, where dedicated federal bureaucrats work hard to make sure we don't get lifesaving vaccines too quickly. (Public domain government photo.)

The Food and Drug Administration is one of my least favorite federal agencies. It's one of the aspects of the U.S. government which makes me wonder why almost everyone I know who expresses a political preference is a Democrat or Republican, rather than a Libertarian.

Robert Anton Wilson, no fan of the FDA, wrote over and over again about how the agency treated Wilhelm Reich. Here are a few words from the "Taking the Name of the Lord in Pain" chapter of Cosmic Trigger 2: " ... I had read about Dr. Reich, when the Food and Drug Administration invaded his laboratory, smashed his equipment with axes, burned all of his books and threw him in jail."

If you read the rather long entry about Reich on Wikipedia, you can see that while this summary removes a certain amount of nuance (the FDA supposedly only supervised the destruction of Reich's equipment and books, rather than taking part), RAW's summary omits details which makes its actions even worse. Not only Reich but an associate, Dr. Michael Silvert, were sent to prison (Silvert killed himself after being released). And the U.S. Supreme Court -- you know, the tribune of the people, which steps in to protect our constitutional liberties -- declined to hear Reich's appeal.

Only a relatively few people apparently thought any of this was worth making a fuss over. The American Civil Liberties Union (in those days, an organization concerned with civil liberties) did issue a press release criticizing the book burning.

Fast forward to 2020-2021, and with half a million Americans dead from the pandemic, and tens of millions wishing they could get a damn vaccination shot already, the FDA has kept itself busy by trying to impede the testing necessary to track the disease and slow its spread, and by trying to hold up the distribution of vaccines as much as possible.

If you think that's an exaggeration, then I will submit you haven't been following press coverage of the FDA very closely. You can, for example, read a New York Times account of May 15, 2020, relatively early in the pandemic, of how a test backed by Bill Gates was used to learn more about the spread of the virus, until the FDA ordered a halt in testing. 

As for my claim that the FDA is holding up vaccines, feel free to offer your own explanation for why the Oxford AstraZeneca has been authorized by the World Health Organization, the United Kingdom, all of the member nations of the European Union (27 countries such as Germany, France, etc.),  India, Mexico and probably some other countries I have forgotten. But here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, I am not free to take it, even if I am brave enough to take a vaccine that's been in use for weeks around the world.

When the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical company applied for an Emergency Use Authorization at the FDA on Feb. 4 to distribute its vaccine, the FDA decided to wait more than three weeks before it convenes a panel to discuss the matter. The meeting, in fact, is being held today. The current seven-day average for COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. is 2,174.  So that's what, 40,000 deaths or so while the FDA considers the matter? The 3,000 deaths from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack were used as an excuse to turn the U.S. into a police state.

As with all of the Wilhelm Reich stuff, only a relatively small number of apparent oddballs seem to think there is anything wrong with the FDA's actions and lack of actions, libertarians on Twitter and the like. It doesn't seem to bother anyone in the Biden administration or anyone I have heard about in the U.S. Congress. 

1 comment:

Hugh said...

It's my view that the FDA and the problems with it that you mention are part of a larger problem with government as we know it. Agencies like the FDA assume that individuals are not equipped to make decisions for and protect themselves. The same goes for virtually every other agency whose role involves placing restrictions on free associations. (At the risk of touching on taboo topics, it's what's bothered me during covid. If there is a private entity willing to serve a private individual, whose business is it to prohibit that relationship?)

In one of his essays, RAW points out that the terms heretic derives from Greek for, to choose. So in essence, a heretic is one who chooses. It's no surprise then, that government has always sought to squash heretics.