You know what happens when government gets out of the way of business? People die:
Massachusetts regulators in 2004 proposed a formal reprimand for a company now linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak, but they never delivered it after the company protested the reprimand could be “fatal to the business.”
The sanction by the Board of Registration in Pharmacy was included in a proposed consent agreement that was meant to resolve complaints against the New England Compounding Center in Framingham. The complaints included a failure to meet accepted standards for making the same steroid that’s been connected to the outbreak.
The agreement was among documents released this week by the state Department of Health that provide more details about past incidents at NECC, which was shut down in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak that has reached 17 states, sickening 312 people, 24 of whom have died. Compounding pharmacies like NECC custom mix solutions in doses or forms generally not commercially available.
The case ended without disciplinary action as part of a different consent agreement reached with the board in 2006.
The 2006 consent agreement was signed under Gov. Romney. Of course it was! But to learn a lesson from this case one needn’t finger-point, play the “blame game,” “politicize a tragedy” and do all of that other stuff Republicans say is wrong when it makes their side look bad but which they’re only too happy to indulge in when it serves them. Nope, we don’t even have to go that far, not here. Because the whole “get government out of the way of business” thing is the Republican Party mantra, it’s the central plank of their platform, it’s the very heart of Republicanism. It is an article of faith among Republicans that government is the problem, not the solution, it’s in the way of job creation, economic growth, prosperity, you name it.
Indeed, it is the key message of this campaign ad by Dr. Steve Dickerson, the Republican who will probably end up being my state senator, much to my chagrin. In his ad he tells us he’s not just a doctor but also a “small businessman,” and by virtue of this experience he knows that the government needs to get out of the way of small business. He says that, right in his ad. And there are 24 people who are dead now and hundreds more who are sick, all across the country, because some people in government decided to get out of the way of a business which by all rights should have been put to death eight years ago.
What’s that old joke? I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one? Yeah, that’s funny, sad and true, all at the same time.
Here’s the problem with that “get the government out of the way of business” stuff. Events always unfold proving that wrong. Always. There will always be a business whining about government regulations and government oversight, how it’s hurting them and how if it hurts them it hurts us because jobs and free markets and argle bargle blah blah. But what hurts us worse is when they unleash their contaminated medicine on the public, or their contaminated peanut butter, or when they ignore workplace safety laws. People die when that happens. Or, when they treat the economy like their personal casino. Or when a “small business” treats the public waterways like their personal sewer.
When family members die because a business did wrong the first thing people say is, “why didn’t the government prevent this from happening?” And when digging for the answer to that question, nine times out of ten you’ll find somewhere along the chain of events a Republican who felt that government was just too much in the way.