It is obvious to the rational individual that one should not present an argument based on ignorance, whatever the subject. I have seen an increase in this, however, at an alarming rate on social networking sites, blogs, even print and television media. I’d like to present evidence of this and then propose an alternative argument.
It has been suggested that the FDA is a necessary arm of the federal government. Most people who make this assertion do so without proper supportive evidence, using only vague references to ‘tainted meat’ or news stories which exploit the death of a few people who had the unfortunate experience of consuming some virus-ridden cantaloupe. Unless one has been living in confinement, one has been exposed to some such ‘support’ as to why agencies such as the FDA are so indispensable. It is been my observation that if federal laws really worked, these outbreaks of food poisoning would not have occurred. A common defense of this argument is generally the reliable either/or fallacy:
“Yeah, so let’s just imagine how many more cases there’d be without watchdog agencies like the FDA!”
Don’t let’s. If we are going to have to rely to our collective imaginations to justify the existence of a ‘watchdog’ entity, I’d prefer to imagine it being euthanized. The argument is established around the assumption that the individual states would be incapable of carrying out this sort of consumer oversight, and there is no evidence to bear this out, save yet the old reliable defense using Orwellian scare tactics. We were well programmed in school that the federal government was indispensable. I abandoned this deceptive concept long ago. I offer every other failed and/or bloated government programme and agency as evidence on which my skepticism is based.
I assert that the federal government and the FDA is responsible for most of the problems we all encounter in the way of food shortages, inflated food prices and widespread outbreaks of food poisoning.
Let us go back to when all of this began, shall we? Back in 1906, Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle led the call to a public outcry after ‘exposing’ unsanitary conditions in the food packaging industry. At the time of publication, there was already plenty of government ‘regulations’. An act prohibiting the adulteration of foodstuff and drink had already been passed in 1890. The passage of auxiliary laws was indicative that the fed was doing a less than impressive job of enforcing legislation, but it didn’t seem to faze the public. Between 1880 and 1906, 103 bills had been introduced in Congress to control interstate traffic in food and drugs, but none were passed until the Pure Foods and Drugs Act was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt in – you guessed it- 1906. It was at this point that the fed could have
mandated federal guidelines regarding such concerns which the states would have been required to follow. But that would’ve been too easy. It instead viewed the resultant public clamor as an opportunity to exercise even more control over the individual and sovereign states. What followed were a litany of various amendments, none doing much to curtail the occasional outbreak of poisonings and deaths. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 was next, wherein state legislation was important in covering areas outside the scope of the federal act. The stipulation begs the question:
What purpose did the act serve that the states couldn’t enact independently?
The big thalidomide scandal in 1961 eventually led to the introduction of the Food and Drug Act in 1962. Ambulance chasing attorneys began profiting from wrongful death lawsuits through the emotionally distraught survivors of everyone from a deceased toddler foolishly given Phenylpropanolamine, to idiots who willfully smoked cigarettes until their lungs caved in. This resulted in higher prices for drugs (remember, the companies had to recoup their losses, and the cash settlement wound up being paid by the consumer) and even more regulations which made it harder for a business to turn a profit.
The fed has succeeded in solving none of the problems surrounding the main issue and I submit that, conversely, it has gone a long way in promoting them. More on that in a moment.
Harking back to Sinclair, it is universally agreed that he freely combined fact with fiction to make his books more dramatic. After all, he was in the business of selling books. He was a well known polemicist, constantly creating a controversy in order to sell more volumes of his work. Nonetheless, most of his work is highly regarded and taken at face value as being representative of the hard truth, even though most of his assertions remain unsubstantiated. He was also a self-avowed Socialist. Yet as late as the 1970s, Sinclair’s inaccurate rendering was still being regarded as ‘required reading’ in public schools. The purpose for this is unclear, other than to scare the hell out of impressionable youngsters and convince them that nothing, short of the federal government, could set things straight.
Fat chance. It has indeed made matters worse.
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first act was to establish the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. It was one of many reforms which would eventually end up backfiring. The purpose of the bill was to artificially drive up the cost of food. Small farms suffered the most. Agricultural agents were appointed to survey crops and force farmers to limit their production. My father recalls the time that my grandfather, being forced to plow a portion of his crop under, referred to Roosevelt as a ‘crippled old bastard’. The family of twelve was poor. Roosevelt succeeded only in making them poorer.
I’m amused these days how those in the ‘progressive’ movement, being the ones most supportive of invasive federal legislation, have embraced the ‘green movement’ fad of buying local whilst federal regulations have tied the hands of local growers to the point that small farms are more trouble than they are worth. Who needs the headache? And don’t even think about suggesting that your kids try making extra money by selling lemonade on the roadside. Not unless you want to get fined for violating local ordinances, all stemming from the control of an over-zealous FDA.
But think about it: if local growers were encouraged to produce crops and set up more roadside produce markets, without having to jump through all of the various hoops erected by the fed, the state and the county, the effects of potentially harmful harvests would be more localised and thus easier to contain. Instead, cantaloupes kill people in eighteen different states.
The FDA is redundant and needlessly costs the American taxpayer millions of dollars every year.
And Congress can’t figure out where to cut spending?
Let me up there.