Free Markets, Free People
Rick Perry got some deserved heavy fire for something he attempted as governor of Texas. That is, he attempted to mandate a vaccine for sixth grade girls designed to help prevent cervical cancer.
Last night Michelle Bachman, trying to revive her flagging campaign, lit into the Texas governor for attempting to establish the mandate by executive order:
“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just wrong,” Bachmann said. “Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan.”
Two points here that need to be considered. One, as some defending Perry are saying, we mandate shots for kids right now before they can attend school and there are some who suffer adverse effects.
True. But here’s the difference – they’re for communicable diseases that can spread quickly in schools and cause all sorts of problems up to and including death. Most Americans realize the difference between a program designed to prevent the spread of a communicable disease and one that isn’t. They accept the need for the shots to prevent communicable diseases among children as well as the risk associated with them.
The HPV vaccine is designed to help prevent a non-communicable disease. It isn’t a “public health” matter or threat the same way the communicable diseases are. So the vaccine should be optional in terms of whether or not a person decides to chose to be vaccinated.
Additionally there are some pretty bad side effects if a child has a negative reaction.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) has been reported after vaccination with Gardasil® . GBS is a rare neurologic disorder that causes muscle weakness. It occurs in 1-2 out of every 100,000 people in their teens. A number of infections have been associated with GBS. There has been no indication that Gardasil® increases the rate of GBS above the rate expected in the general population, whether or not they were vaccinated.
There have been some reports of blood clots in females after receiving Gardasil®. These clots have occurred in the heart, lungs, and legs. Most of these people had a risk of getting blood clots, such as taking oral contraceptives (the birth control pill), smoking, obesity, and other risk factors.
As of June 22, 2011 there have been a total 68 VAERS reports of death among those who have received Gardasil® . There were 54 reports among females, 3 were among males, and 11 were reports of unknown gender. Thirty two of the total death reports have been confirmed and 36 remain unconfirmed due to no identifiable patient information in the report such as a name and contact information to confirm the report. A death report is confirmed (verified) after a medical doctor reviews the report and any associated records. In the 32 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine and some reports indicated a cause of death unrelated to vaccination.
It is obviously unclear if Gardasil was the culprit here, but then it’s also unclear it wasn’t. However, it does seem rather interesting that 68 youngsters died after its administration. That many young people dying in close relation to the administration of the vaccine is at least highly suspicious.
You could write it off to bad screening … why was it administered to those people who had risks of getting blood clots. But that’s irrelevant if it is mandated, isn’t it?
Unless the mandate specifically states such exceptions, everyone, to include those with the risks outlined, are going to get the vaccine and health care workers aren’t going to bother to screen, are they?
And of course that brings us to the real problem. The mandate. Sort of hard to be outraged about ObamaCare’s mandate when you’ve been mandating things yourself, and without even a legislative okay – not that that would justify a mandate. However, the point is Perry decided to do this with an executive order, thereby placing the entire fiasco squarely on his shoulders.
The point, of course, is what he did is not exactly in keeping with what he claims he wants to do as president, i.e. “get Washington (government) out of our lives”. His action in this case was exactly the opposite. And while, as he claims, his intentions were good, we all know the road to hell – and serfdom – are paved with good intentions.
“At the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer,” Perry said. “At the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life.”
Not your job, Governor, at least in this context. And especially by executive order mandate.
Compound this mess with the fact that also a hint of political cronyism involved:
“There was a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate,” Bachmann said. “The governor’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company.”
The company in question is Merck and his former chief of staff was indeed it’s chief lobbyist. And we know that sort of former relationship buys access in political circles. And we also know that fosters cronyism. None of that may be the case here, but politicians running for president can’t really afford that sort of implication, can they?
Perry shot back that he was offended that anyone would think, after raising $30 million dollars that he could be bought off by a $5,000 campaign contribution. Well he wasn’t running for president then was he?
Lots of questions. Less than satisfactory answers to this point.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, “Romneycare” still stands as my answer to any question Mitt Romney might ask. If you think Perry’s answer was unsatisfactory about the HPV vaccine, I’ve still yet to hear one from Romney about his mandated health care for MA.
President Obama has an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal (a carefully chosen venue to project a “pro-business” lean, I’m sure) in which he touts an Executive Order he is signing which orders a review of all federal regulation ostensibly to bring them inline with today’s realities and help root out those which stifle job creation.
On the surface, nothing at all objectionable in the premise. Obama claims the purpose of the effort is to ensure that what regulation is kept represents “common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.”
Fine and dandy. I’d love to see that applied to the letter. I just have no real confidence that this is anything other than show (a visible move toward the center) or that bureaucracies will pay it any attention. Of course that’s something we’ll have to see and monitor.
But … again, backing government out of much of the present regulatory regime (“unduly interfering” in Obama’s words) would indeed be a help.
More on the stated premise:
But creating a 21st-century regulatory system is about more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract. As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. It means using disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices. And it means making sure the government does more of its work online, just like companies are doing.
Again, wonderful words (“more affordable, less intrusive” and more choice instead of “restricting those choices”) in an op/ed, but I have to say despite Obama’s claim this has been the aim of his administration the last two years, I’d dispute that. Look at the route the EPA is taking right now in terms of trying to impose a regulatory regime on greenhouse gases. Or how the Interior Department has unilaterally blocked oil and gas exploration.
Certainly simplifying the regulatory regime, removing conflicting and overlapping rules, eliminating redundant reporting requirements and moving much of what can be done on-line to that venue would help. But while that may make things more understandable and less onerous to do, it doesn’t really mean that intrusive regulation is going to go away or even be lessened.
We’re back to how you define such regulation and what level of intrusiveness you believe is too much. There’s no doubt that the Obama administration believes in a level of intrusion far greater than do most on the right. An example of the difference can be found in the article itself:
One important example of this overall approach is the fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks. When I took office, the country faced years of litigation and confusion because of conflicting rules set by Congress, federal regulators and states.
The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of rules into one aggressive new standard. It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty; for consumers who will pay less at the pump; for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil; and for the environment as we reduce pollution.
Of course on the other side of that are those saying “since when is it a function of government to decide what gas mileage a car must get?” The entire premise that it is a function of government is built on belief in a “justified” level of intrusion far beyond that which any Constitutional scholar would or could objectively support (that’s assuming he is a scholar and an honest one). In fact the example perfectly states the obvious difference between big government advocates and small government advocates. BGA’s think it is government’s job to dictate such things – that it is a function of government to do so. SGAs believe it is the market’s job to dictate such things and that government shouldn’t be involved in these sorts of things.
So in essence, while the Obama op/ed has all the proper buzz words to attempt to sell it as a pro-business, small government move, it is in fact simply a restatement of an old premise that essentially says “government belongs in the areas it is now, we just need to clean it up a little”.
This really isn’t about backing off, it’s about cleaning up. It isn’t about letting the market work, it’s about hopefully making government work better. And while Obama claims to want to inform us about our choices rather than restricting them, I’ll still be unable to buy a car that doesn’t meet government standards on gas mileage even if I want one.
Now that may not seem like something most of us would want – few if any of us want bad gas mileage and the cost it brings – but it does illustrate the point that government regulation really isn’t about providing choice at all, it is and always will be about limiting them. And all the smooth talking in the world doesn’t change that. It’s the nature of the beast.
So when you hear wonderful things like this…
Our economy is not a zero-sum game. Regulations do have costs; often, as a country, we have to make tough decisions about whether those costs are necessary. But what is clear is that we can strike the right balance. We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.
…just remember the reality of regulation and understand that all the great sounding words you hear coming from the administration about regulatory overhaul are most likely based on a completely different premise than the right has. And as all of us have learned from the 2 years in which this administration has been in power, never, ever, ever just go by what they say they’re going to do. Always judge them on what they actually do, because rarely do they ever do what they say in speeches or op/eds like this.