A secret plan to fight... something

From here:

WASHINGTON - By creating a federal agency shielded from public scrutiny, some lawmakers think they can speed the development and testing of new drugs and vaccines needed to respond to a bioterrorist attack or super-flu pandemic.

The proposed Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, or BARDA, would be exempt from long-standing open records and meetings laws that apply to most government departments, according to legislation approved Oct. 18 by the Senate health committee.

In other words, drug companies would have a safe haven where they would be able to do any kind of medical research whatsoever, free from any kind of oversight or public scrutiny. Better yet --

The agency would provide the funding for development of treatments and vaccines to protect the United States from natural pandemics as well as chemical, biological and radiological agents.
That's right... you and I would be writing a blank check to the drug companies for this super secret, unaccountable, undocumented research.

Then there's this:

The bill does provide for limited compensation. However, another provision would grant drug companies immunity unless "willful misconduct" can be shown.
Which, you know, would be a very easy legal burden to meet, given that all the records of the agency would be classified and nobody from the public could ever get access to them.

The National Vaccine Information Center, an advocacy group, called the legislation "a drug company stockholder's dream and a consumer's worst nightmare."
See, if I were paranoid, I might just think that with a top secret national security research haven like this available, drug companies might be tempted to just stop doing anything at all on their own hook and do it ALL on the public tit. Then ANYthing they create, any product at all that comes out of this, will be protected against any kind of legal repercussions that might ensue, unless "willful misconduct" can be proved, which of course it can't, because nobody will have any access to any of the records involved.

Geez. It's a good thing my government doesn't do stuff like create secret military bases all over the world to illegally detail and torture people in. It's a good thing there is no obvious, inherently corrupt and steadily, horrifically increasing bias in our government towards wealthy, influential corporations, especially the drug companies. I mean, otherwise, I might think this could be a really really BAD thing.

What strikes me as oddest about this is, well... it seems to me that, essentially, if the government sets up this agency, it will basically end up socializing drug research and production in this country. And socialism is a bad thing, according to the Republicans who are pushing this bill... right?

Ah, but wait:

Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said drug company concerns about liability are real.

"There's really no financial incentive for them to get into the market, sell to the government at a reduced rate and then open themselves up to losses that could potentially bankrupt them," Call said.

And then:

"We must ensure the federal government acts as a partner with the private sector, providing the incentives and protections necessary to bring more and better drugs and vaccines to market faster," Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said when the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved the bill.
See? It's not socialism at all! In socialism, the government controls certain essential processes and industries, presumably for the public good. But with this new agency, the government would just FUND the research, and PROTECT the research (from... um... us, I guess). They wouldn't CONTROL anything! So that makes it better!

"So... I'm sorry, doctor, I don't mean to be unpatriotic, but just what ARE you injecting me, my wife, my children, and my dog with?"

"That's classified data, citizen. But rest assured it's for the good of the nation."

"Ah. So you don't know what's in the hypo either, eh...?"

Personally, I think they should put Michael Brown in charge of the whole thing. Because we all know that couldn't possibly go wrong.

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