Third Party & Independents Archives

During This Flu Season...

Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.’”

During the Presidential campaign, there was a big outcry that George W. Bush “failed to get enough flu vaccines.” Instead of explaining that the shortage was not a failure of the free market but lack of vaccines that the FDA has deemed “good enough”, Bush echoed the government-will-fix everything mantra and said that he was doing everything he could to get Americans these vaccines. In the meanwhile, Americans had to sacrifice for the “common good” and pass up non-essential vaccines.

Yet the reason for this shortage is that (1) American vaccines providers are regulated so heavily that there is virtually no free market in these goods; and (2) domestic and foreign suppliers have to go through the slow bureaucracy of the FDA before Americans are even allowed to consider purchasing their products. Given this realization, I found it rather ironic that today federal agents used tax payer dollars to stop citizens from obtaining flu vaccine they desired to purchase on the "black market". These same vaccines could have easily been permitted on the market with a "Not Approved by the FDA" label, but that would allow people a level of choice in their own health care that an "enlightened society" cannot permit. Under the dominant world view, a healthy citizen who wants a vaccines should follow President Bush's call-to-patriotism and refuse getting a flu vaccine, even while there are perfectly fine vaccines which no one is using sitting in a company's plant.

Those in the federal bureaucracy have convinced citizens that they would be lost without the benevolent paternalism of agencies like the FDA. The misuse of this power has led to shortages- and the same supporters of the paternalistic programs are now calling for more power in the hands of the same federal government to solve the problem. And when that solution leads to another problem- well, we can call a Congressional investigation and it can recommend creating another federal agency which derives authority from no enumerated power in the Constitution.

Posted by Misha Tseytlin at November 30, 2004 3:49 PM