Government to the Rescue
Republicans appear glued to their anti-government ideology. It seems for them that only freeing up corporations and super-rich Americans to do as they please will benefit America, that is, America defined as corporate business and the super-rich. Everyone else can breathe more polluted air, not be able to afford life-saving drugs and get killed in accidents caused by sleep-deprived truck drivers. Recent exposés:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencythreatened to withhold approval for 2016 Volkswagens and Audis because of discrepancies between environmental pollution tests and the far-higher levels of pollution that proved to be emitted on the road. It turns out that Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars have been built to deceive pollution emissions tests and that the so-called “defeat device” had been in operation since 2009. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned September 23, three days after the revelation was made public. Three cheers for the government regulator! But note that it took six years to stop Volkswagen and that the auto industry pressured Congress to ensure the U.S. Highway Administration didn’t have the requisite regulatory powers.
- When Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the cheap generic drug Daraprim, the price went from $13.50 a tablet to $750. Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told the New York Timesthat the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have same efficacy.” In another case, Cycloserine increased in price from $500 for 30 pills to $10,800 when drug was acquired by Rodelis Therapeutics. ButRodelis then agreed to return the drug to its former owner, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Purdue University, according to the New York Times. No government regulation rescue on pharmaceutical pricing yet, but Hillary Clinton announced a plan to give the federal government authority to negotiate prices through Medicare, and she publicly criticized companies that acquire generic drugs and put unjustifiable price hikes in place.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation opposed efforts in Congress led by Maine Senator Susan Collins to roll back new hours of service regulations so that truck drivers have the rest they need to safely operate commercial vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimatedthat the new rules would save 19 lives and 560 injuries, and prevented approximately 1,400 crashes.
Citizens cannot effectively pursue their health and welfare relying only on their own individual efforts. They need governmental institutions created through free elections to be empowered to work for the common good. The Volkswagen case, in particular, should put a nail in the coffin of mindless anti-government ideology.
Elizabeth Spiro Clark, Chair
PPC International Affairs Task Force