Constant's pations

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Monday, January 10, 2005

EPA vs FDA: What if Donald Rumsfeld had been running the Normandy Invasion?

Part I -- EPA v FDA: Why does the same government have divergent review standards?

Today I heard some lovely news. Apparently someone has been making some solvent that is apparently not working out.

In fact, is could actually cause some problems. This remains to be seen.

My concern is that the current approach EPA uses is very different than that of FDA. Specifically, it looks as though EPA uses the “use it until someone says something” approach; while FDA takes the more conservative approach and says, “Prove it is OK and we’ll think about letting the public use it.”

Let’s go back to the early days. When there was no EPA or FDA. To the time of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

Those were some very ugly days in Chicago. In fact, all over the country people were working in horrible conditions. And when they got sick, they usually didn’t have enough money. At worst, they had to work even when their limps were cut off by the meat machines.

In theory, the world learned from the bad days of The Jungle Society improved. Things got better.

So, today I’m a little puzzled. What’s happened? Why does EPA take such a divergent view from FDA on how it approaches things?

I’d really like to have a simple explanation and reconciliation between the two methodologies. Specifically, if the standard of “prove it is OK and then we’ll use it” is good enough for FDA, why isn’t that also applied to cleaning products that workers are exposed to?

I’m sure there’s some twisted logic to justify the inconsistency. Some weird regulatory mind-set that justifies doing one thing in EPA, and an equally convoluted approach in FDA.

I personally don’t care what the General Counsel or the various departments’ Inspector Generals have found. Nor do I care that “it’s been like this for so long” or “this is what Congress in their infinite wisdom have agreed to do.”

Brilliant. All these years, and two very different approaches. Excellent. It’s time for Congress to have some joint hearings on drugs and environmental regulation: To iron out the inconstancies.

To come to a really good, clean story as to why product safety for drugs is one standard; while the opposite assumption is taken on food safety.

I’m sure we’ll hear the consultant-PhDs who are getting paid a lot of money by their various lobbying groups to come up with a very nice story for their respective area of interest.

However, I would hope that there bee some challenging questions how logical standards that apply to FDA could be so opposite to that which is equally logical.

Bottom line

In my opinion, it is ridiculous to ask the world to believe the US has a “fine standard” of health care under FDA; while the EPA uses such a radically different approach.

What’s needed is a similarly rigorous approach in EPA as that is applied to FDA. Indeed, what is most absurd about the current state of affairs is that “products most needed for one’s health” are more likely to be delayed under FDA; while products that could cause serious physical damage appear to take the opposite route: That they are presumed to be OK, until someone demonstrates otherwise.

I’d like to see workers protected. This means making sure that drugs are tested before New York ACS uses them on Children. And also this means making sure that cleaning solvents are safe on rats before the public is asked to breath in their fumes.

If you’re going to have a standard for the product under FDA that the product be safe before use, that standard should be similarly applied to EPA-related products.

I suspect industry and their lobbyists have another view. Remember the tales of woe in re cigarettes. All those years, problems were known, but publicly things were denied.

It would be nice if those games were of the past. It remains to be seen whether we have real reform, or more of the same.

I remain ever confident the Congress will accept the inconsistency, all the while blaming others for the lack of leadership.

If you want the world to assent to America’s vision of “where things need to be taken,” then the simple thing would be to show that American values its workers health not just when they are sick, but when they are working.

We await the convoluted logic to justify the most absurd results. We look to Iraq as a case in point: how much can go so miserably wrong. Congratulations, America. You’re showing the world why there is little confidence to believe America is part of the solution; and giving others greater confidence that alternatives are needed.

The world watches what happens not just in Indonesia, but also in the halls of Congress.

A country’s credibility is enhanced when its actions match its principles. America continues to be the land of “Believe in a fairy tale, but don’t dare ask us to explain our inconstancies.”

And America wonders why it is so despised. America’s solution to the “stand up to the arrogance” is to lock people away, chain them to the floor, and handcuff them to iron bars. Then explain away the photos as “contrary to public opinion.”

Paul O’Neill when he was with Bono in Africa talked about the importance of clean water. The President fired him for, now what is self-evidently, a truism in the wake of the Tsunami. Let’s hear from Paul O’Neill, what his thoughts are on the Tsunami, and some probing questions contrasting what O’Neill was saying, with what is going on in Asia.

The only thing that has really changed is America suddenly worries that AlQueda might step into the power vacuum. If AlQueda threatened to step in a provide leadership in Congress, wow wouldn’t that really be something.

Oh, wait. They already did that. They did that on 9-11. And what do we have from Gonzalez? More absurdity, lawlessness, and arrogance. The very things which AlQueda was fighting in Saudi Arabia.

But don’t be fooled. America is now seeing the value of Bin Ladin. Some have suggested that Bin Ladin is better alive than dead. The logic is that “since he is alive there will be no power vacuum.” The next step is to then compare Bin Ladin to Arafat. How far we’ve come since 9-11.

Indeed, in Afghanistan the DEA is now getting stepped on. DoD and State are crafting plans to ensure the opium continues to flow. Nobody wants to upset those war lords. All their support for democracy must continue; if the US interferes with the drug-trades, the Afghani war lords might actually support…Bin Ladin, who the US now supports.

So let’s have a straight story. Why are we fighting to protect drug traffickers in Afghanistan, but fighting them in Columbia? Is the real answer that Bin Ladin is making the first move; and the US is simply reacting to Bin Ladin?

That logic doesn’t work in Iraq. The US knew there was no connection between 9-11 and Saddam. Despite all the time to “get ready” for an Iraq invasion, the US argues “it had to go with what it had.”

What!?! The US chose to launch an invasion; but now the US wants to argue “we had to go with what we had.”

Why was there no build-up like there was in WWII prior to the invasion of Normandy?

Alas, the current JCS likes to say, “Whatever we do can be explained as rational.” Yet, I see nothing rational with forcing the country into combat all the while your reserve forces were already known [or should’ve known] were woefully below their combat readiness.

Part II – Don Rumsfeld Arrives at the Beaches of Normandy

There’s a story about “what if Lindberg had one the election instead of FDR.” Quite an interesting concept.

Let’s ask, “What if Rumsfeld had been in charge of the Normandy invasion?”

  • The US, despite the chance to build-up the troops from 1941 to 1944, would launch the attack in 1942, arguing “We will win because we surprised them.”

  • The first day of the invasion, the US would run as fast as it could into Berlin, but do nothing about the needed fuel supplies that Patton would need to sustain his thrust through Germany.

  • Two days after getting bogged down on the beaches of Normandy, Rumsfeld would deny that the US had any plans or feedback that the number of troops required was 5-fold higher than what was actually used.

  • The plan, albeit flawed, would’ve been touted as a “grand example of American ingenuity, the problem is the Germans are not cooperating.”

  • Germany would still occupy France. The ships crossing the sea would’ve been sunk by German snipers firing paper-wads. The troops, not having enough armor to protect their boats, would be forced to glue pieces of V-1 scrap metal they found on the streets of London.

  • Despite still unable to secure Paris, the Americans would create an election for the Vichy government officials in Southern France, all the while the German-descendants in northern France were arguing over whether they might join a trading alliance with the US.

  • The Press corps would be given front-line access to the victories, but be investigated by the forerunner of the CIA for reporting the truth about the poor plan, ill-equipped troops, and inability to continue providing logistics support as the US troops entered the beach head.

  • All the money spent on securing the US border would’ve been spent in FDR’s hometown on meatpacking upgrades, that were actually kickbacks to political hacks who had previously invested in FDR’s privately financed direct sales to the Germans through offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands.

  • If anyone dared investigate the dire situation, Rumsfeld would’ve directed FDR to imprison them with the Japanese in internment camps, going so far as to question their patriotism, loyalty, and Americanism for speaking out against a flawed plan.

  • Rumsfeld would be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and decry all negative news as “Contrary to Public Opinion.”

    I invite the public to offer more to this list. Pass it to your friends. Add your own.

    Remember, those who fail to learn from history are destined … to retell it another way …until all the messengers … are beaten into ploughshares.