Monday, September 12, 2005

More victims of Republican incompetence

As Paul Krugman points out in his latest article, FEMA is hardly the only government program who has been degraded by Republican cronyism and anti-scientific politicization.

Krugman points out that the Environmental Protection Agency and Corporation for Public Broadcasting have been hollowed out by political appointees. No surprise there of course since both agencies are longtime Republican bugaboos.

However, rampant Republican mis-management is also infecting agencies like Treasury and even the Department of Homeland Security that one might assume Republicans support.

Apparently if you believe government is the problem you don't bother to run it with any degree of competence. Why make an agency whose goals you oppose effective after all?

Another agency suffering under ideological and pro-corporate Republican rule is the Food and Drug Administration:

Serious questions have been raised about the agency's coziness with drug companies, and the agency's top official in charge of women's health issues resigned over the delay in approving Plan B, the morning-after pill, accusing the agency's head of overruling the professional staff on political grounds.

Now we see further evidence of FDA incompetence:
NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Months before the Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert in June about problems with Guidant Corp. heart devices, a company report to the agency showed that some of those units were short-circuiting.

And, as with FEMA, beureaucratic incompetence has also resulted in death, note the timeline:
As part of a lengthy annual report that Guidant submitted to the FDA in February, the company disclosed data showing that one of its widely used defibrillators, the Ventak Prizm 2 DR, was short-circuiting at the rate of about one a month, a rate that some doctors say was troubling.

A month later
, a college student who had one of those units implanted in his chest died of sudden cardiac arrest, the Times report said.

In June, the FDA issued an alert about the model, later updating it to say that the short circuits, while rare, posed a significant risk because they could render the device useless just when it was needed most. [Emphases mine-CK]

The news media still faithfully reports the death toll in Iraq, and is still eagerly tallying the death toll for Katerina. Now add to those numbers both the lives lost to faulty heart devices, unwanted pregnancies preventable by plan B, and lives ruined through BushCorp's refusal to recognize the scientific potential of stem cell research, as well as the as yet unrealized destruction caused by unchecked global warming. Add to those numbers all the family and friends affected by each disease, each death and the toll becomes staggering.

Is it too much to ask that government agencies be run by people who are not diametrically opposed to their purposes?

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