September 17, 2002
6:38 AM   Subscribe

"One nationally renowned academic ... was recently called by an administration official to talk about serving on an HHS [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] advisory committee.... To the candidate's surprise, the official asked for the professor's views on embryo cell research, cloning and physician-assisted suicide. After that, the candidate said, the interviewer told the candidate that the position would have to go to someone else because the candidate's views did not match those of the administration."
The overhaul of the U.S. public health advisory committee system begins with politics and ends with canning those who disagree with George W. Bush. The public interest is somehow left out of the process.
posted by PrinceValium (21 comments total)
 
This is probably the most relevant part of the article:

"No one should be surprised when an administration makes changes like this," Pierce said. "I don't think there is anything going on here that has not gone on with each and every administration since George Washington."

I don't happen to like this administration's views, since I think stem cell research/therapeutic cloning are some of the most important issues facing this country, but it has always been thus, and will always be thus.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:47 AM on September 17, 2002


Granted, pardonyou?, but didn't the Republicans go apeshit just over a week ago when the evil America-hating Democrats defeated the nomination of a Federal judge because his views were too far from that of the majority in Congress? How is one a "depravity of the process" and the other is considered "just the process?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:57 AM on September 17, 2002


How is one a "depravity of the process" and the other is considered "just the process?"

Yes, you're right. They are both "just the process." I would say the same thing to the Republicans regarding the judicial nominee. That doesn't mean I think it's the best system, but it is the system we have. My point was just that the main post insinuates that this is some new strategy unique to the current administration, when that is obviously not the case.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:16 AM on September 17, 2002


Hoi. Again?
posted by hama7 at 7:17 AM on September 17, 2002


That doesn't mean I think it's the best system

Like it or not, is is the best system. There is no other medical or health care system that even comes close.

The only criticism of the best health care system is that it's expensive. Well, you get what you pay for.
posted by hama7 at 7:23 AM on September 17, 2002


I would say the most telling part of the article is this:

"A third committee, which had been assessing the effects of environmental chemicals on human health, has been told that nearly all of its members will be replaced--in several instances by people with links to the industries that make those chemicals."

Sounds like how Republicans do everything. Need to look at air quality? Ask the polluters to write up the legislation. Who cares about those pesky chicken little environmentalists. Need a new energy policy? Ask the people who produce oil and coal to write the policy. Who cares about renewable energy? Why bother bringing in people from those industries.

This is not the sort of thing one should just roll over and say "it has always been thus, and will always be thus."

This administration does not give a rat's patootie about the health and welfare of its citizens, and this decision is just another painful example.
posted by terrapin at 7:27 AM on September 17, 2002


not if superchristopher reeve has anything to do about it! "If we'd had full government support, full government funding for aggressive research using embryonic stem cells from the moment they were first isolated, at the University of Wisconsin in the winter of 1998 -- I don't think it unreasonable to speculate that we might be in human trials by now."

also fwiw: The reformers argued that the "spoils" system resulted in a government that was bloated, inefficient, weak, and prone to corruption. They insisted that it encouraged partisan and personal gain to take precedence over principles and the common good. (via raaka :)
posted by kliuless at 7:29 AM on September 17, 2002


So, how many MetaCitizens here (of the ones who are unhappy with the current administration) will be working and campaigning for a presidential candidate from one of the other parties in 2004?
posted by Red58 at 7:32 AM on September 17, 2002


Now we all know both parties take advantage of the spoils system. In my humble opinion however Democrats tend to hand out favors in terms that don't directly affect me the citizen (i.e. Clinton throwing pardons around before leaving office). While the Republicans use favors to impose views and subsidize their connections with public money. Again this is a generalization and not gospel but how I usually see things.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 7:41 AM on September 17, 2002


Red58: I will, definitely. I made the decision to do so right after that whole Pledge of allegiance flap, when Bush made that shockingly transparent remark about how he would only appoint Supreme Court justices who shared his particular beliefs in God. Which, of course, makes a total mockery of that whole no-religious-test-to-hold-office deal in the Constitution. Up to that point, I did not like Bush at all -- I voted for Gore --- but I really felt that it didn't make much of a difference to my life who was in office; after that, I decided that George Bush probably wouldn't consider an atheist like me to be a Real American, and that it was in my best interests not to have him as my president. I will definitely do something in the next two years to help an opponent's campaign.
posted by textureslut at 7:42 AM on September 17, 2002


Well, you get what you pay for.

Well, along with co-pay, and your share of the surgery bills, and the follow-ups, and they may not cover certain conditions, or certain organ replacements, and there's a five-hour wait for your doctor, and...
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:43 AM on September 17, 2002


The public interest is somehow left out of the process

That is a little disingenuous. Elected officials make decisions (and appoint committees) all the time without consulting their constituencies. The public expresses their opinion through ELECTING these people in the first place (as well as threatening not to re-elect them). So you may disagree with the current policies, but saying that the public is left out of the process is incorrect.

Now the question of if the current administration actually won the election is a whole other issue :)
posted by jsonic at 8:10 AM on September 17, 2002


Well, John Q, no system is perfect.

No illness is planned. I would much rather have the best doctors that money can buy than the best doctors that the state can scum up.

The notion that the diagnosis and cure for every illness should be provided by the state is folly.

There's a reason that people in the most dire medical need come to the United States for treatment. (see the two most recent developments of conjoined twins)
posted by hama7 at 8:18 AM on September 17, 2002


hama7: "The notion that the diagnosis and cure for every illness should be provided by the state is folly."

The notion that only the rich deserve full treatment is inhumane.
posted by ?! at 8:49 AM on September 17, 2002


I would much rather have the best doctors that money can buy

You're welcome to spend whatever you wish on doctors. No one has ever suggested otherwise. Except you.

than the best doctors that the state can scum up.

But you'd prefer a doctor who whores himself out to highest payer? (See the rhetoric cuts both ways. And sounds just as silly).

The notion that the diagnosis and cure for every illness should be provided by the state is folly

Almost certainly folly, since the notion only exists in your own fervid brain, dear.

As to the WaPo article, there's a name for the politicization of science. It's called Lysenkoism.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:54 AM on September 17, 2002


red58: I'll be working on change myself. The problem is America's lack of choice when it comes to politicians.

Dr_Octavius: The Republicans also give their share of pardons.
posted by ?! at 9:02 AM on September 17, 2002


Elected officials make decisions (and appoint committees) all the time without consulting their constituencies.

Of course, but that's not what I meant. A committee on public health is supposed to use their specific expertise to research public health. This isn't really on par with handing out pardons to financiers in Switzerland, or haggling over the inheritance tax; stuff that really doesn't affect ordinary people. This is about will my loved ones be safe from X, Y, or Z communicable disease. I linked to and highlighted this issue because it is so crucial to the lower and middle classes.

October, thanks for the Lysenko article. Not until the discussion to this thread did I realize its parallels to the creationism/evolution debate; science being ignored for the sake of politics.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:16 AM on September 17, 2002


pardonyou?: "That doesn't mean I think it's the best system..."

hama7: "Like it or not, is is the best system. There is no other medical or health care system that even comes close."

It's worth noticing that everything in pardonyou?'s post seems to be in reference to the political system of appointments, not health care. And so it's hardly surprising that no medical or health care system comes close...
posted by nickmark at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2002


Sounds like a science vs. psuedo-science and politics argument to me.
I saw several post that "both sides do it" but I've yet to see an example of a liberal administration replacing science with psuedo-science to advance their position.
Can anyone point me to even one really good example?

I know our country's history is replete with examples of our dear fundies pulling this kind of crap but for the life of me I can't think of an example of a liberal admin doing the same. Show me.

Or am I wrong in that this is a science vs. psuedo-science politicization and if so how?
posted by nofundy at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2002


nickmark: you are witty.
posted by goneill at 11:22 AM on September 17, 2002


This nomination made me wince:

Lois Swirsky Gold, a University of California risk-assessment specialist who has made a career countering environmentalists' claims of links between pollutants and cancer

Sounds like she is going to be very helpful to the big corporations of America. Unfortunately she probably won't be too helpful to any community dealing with polluted rivers, wastelands, or wells. I can hear her now, "Just because 1/4 of the children of Smallville are dying of leukemia, there is no evidence that chemical plant outside town has any liability. It is just a coincidence."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2002


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