“Between early February and mid-March, the U.S. lost six crucial weeks because regulators stuck to rigid regulations instead of adapting as new information came in. While these rules might have made sense in normal times, they proved disastrous in a pandemic.” [Alec Stapp/The Dispatch] When it’s all over, the CDC/FDA testing fiasco is going to go down in the history books, and not in a good way. “We only need to take a look at South Korea to see how we could have been in a better position if we’d let private industry play a larger role in testing.” [Jeffrey Singer/NBC News] “People have talked about ‘drug lag’ but here is a highly quantifiable measure of ‘diagnostic lag’: the excess deaths and hospitalizations the US will suffer thanks to CDRH [the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health] blocking a standard test. The sheer cost of what the FDA has done is now universally perceptible, undeniable.” [Balaji Srinivasan; earlier here, and this at Cato]
From a new Trevor Burrus article on which policy ideas might significantly reduce firearms death rates, and which almost certainly won’t:
Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform: First of all, the CDC is not “banned” from studying gun violence. Here is a 110 page CDC study on gun violence from 2013. The CDC is banned from advocating or promoting gun control, which makes sense because such advocacy is not science. Advocacy from the CDC is problematic, such as when it advocates state-controlled liquor sales, and the imprimatur of the CDC can confuse as well as illuminate.
Updating last Wednesday’s post — about how the federal Centers for Disease Control has advised that women of childbearing years not drink a drop of wine, beer or spirits unless they are on birth control — I did a longer post Friday at Cato at Liberty. Excerpt:
And yet I would have expected no less from a CDC headed by Thomas Frieden, formerly Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s public health czar in New York City. Under Frieden, an arch-enemy of salt, sugar, and guns, the CDC to the detriment of its focus on communicable disease has involved itself in topics from playground safety to suburban housing sprawl; has boldly employed federal tax dollars toward lobbying for changes in law; has set itself against all evidence that e-cigarettes (“vaping”) can serve as vital harm reduction for persons who would otherwise smoke; and much, much more.
“Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they’re using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome.” [Liz Szabo/USA Today (“CDC: Young women should avoid alcohol unless using birth control”), Tracy Clark-Flory/Vocativ (with headline above)]
Rebecca Kukla, professor at the Kennedy School of Ethics, had the following comment, quoted in the Vocativ piece:
We don’t tell pregnant women not to drive cars, even though we are much more certain that there’s a nonzero risk to their fetuses from each car ride than from each drink. The ideal of zero risk is both impossible to meet and completely paralyzing to try to meet. The idea that the pleasures and routines that make up women’s days are mere luxuries that are not worth any risk whatsoever is patronizing and sexist, and it would also turn their lives into complete hell if really taken to its conclusion. It also imposes a much higher risk reduction bar on pregnant women than on parents of small children, for no apparent reason.
We have had numerous occasions over the years to remark on the direction in which Obama appointee Thomas Frieden has taken the Centers for Disease Control.
More: Alexandra Petri, Washington Post (CDC’s warning “incredibly condescending”).
Actual cigarette smoking among teens, the kind that requires inhaling carcinogenic products of combustion, is down a startling 25 percent in one year and nearly 42 percent since 2011. The reason is the rapid substitution of vaping or e-cigarettes, which hold singular promise as a harm-reduction measure for those drawn to the nicotine habit. Great news, right? Not if you listen to Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control, who’s doing his best to disguise good tidings as bad so as to stoke the officially encouraged panic about vaping. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera nails Frieden on the issue [h/t @jackshafer], providing a model of appropriately skeptical press scrutiny of someone who hardly ever gets subjected to that. More on Frieden; David Henderson on how FDA hostility to vaping could slow the shift from more-toxic alternatives; related, Greg Gutfeld on California ads trashing e-cigs.
P.S. Andrew Stuttaford thinks Frieden’s not in denial, he knows better.
Last month the Cato Institute hosted a panel celebrating Repeal Day
with me, alcohol policy expert Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Stacia Cosner of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Cato Digital Marketing Manager Kat Murti as moderator.
On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, supposedly ending our nation’s failed experiment with prohibitionism. Yet, 81 years later, modern-day prohibitionists continue to deny the laws of supply and demand, attempting to control what individuals can choose to put into their own bodies….
Some links related to the discussion:
- All the panelists quoted from Daniel Okrent’s excellent history of Prohibition, Last Call. You can find out more about the book at the author’s site.
- I quote from a speech by the late Christopher Hitchens delivered ten years almost to the day before our panel. It is excerpted in this David Boaz post.
- Radley Balko wrote a 2003 Cato Policy Analysis, “Back Door to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking“. More: The federal Centers for Disease Control, as I noted, has been an agency of choice for public health campaigners because of its legacy of scientific credibility, yet this credibility is itself put increasingly at risk as the CDC lends its name to propaganda. Jacob Sullum provides examples from the agency’s elastic application of the term “binge drinking” to the trouble it seems to have acknowledging that minor alcohol consumption does not seem to correlate with poor health outcomes;
- As I mention, the Prohibition episode was important in eroding constitutional protections against various law-enforcement tools, especially search and seizure, the law being inherently aimed at contraband goods. The same is true of the nascent Drug War undertaken following the Harrison narcotics act of 1914. You can read about one of the resulting Supreme Court cases here.
- The role of exorbitant cigarette taxes in contributing to New York’s giant black market in cigarettes came to wider public notice following the police custody death of Eric Garner on Staten Island; more here, here, etc. The New York Post reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the city law department to refrain from filing an intended press release over a would-be landmark suit filed over untaxed cigarettes the week of the Garner grand jury decision, because it interfered with City Hall’s efforts to downplay the role of the tobacco black market.