Friday was day four of the U.S. government shutdown. And what does a former government insider have to say about that? Plenty. In fact, while 80,000 “nonessential” federal employees continue to enjoy their paid vacation, I’m working overtime to bring you today’s issue.
[Ed. Note: This article was originally published Sunday, Oct. 6.]
The shutdown furloughed 14,000 National Institutes of Health (NIH) employees. (You may wonder why we have 14,000 jobs for paper-pushing bureaucrats, when nongovernment employees at leading academic medical centers around the U.S. do almost all of today’s real health research. And I do too. But that’s a question, and an answer, for another day.)
Here’s my immediate concern…
According to the blubbering mainstream press, we may lose the “war on cancer” because the NIH is “closed” for 40 hours. In fact, the level of propaganda and lies about the implications of the NIH shutdown is now approaching Biblical proportions. To the mainstream mewlers, we’re facing a fate worse than Noah’s 40-day and 40-night flood. But don’t forget — we have been fighting (and publicly funding) this costly war for 40 years.
So now the cowardly politicians are falling all over each other to keep NIH “fully funded” during the shutdown. And keep NIH’s waste flowing in an uninterrupted stream.
Most politicians are too stupid to know the difference between real science and political science. NIH is too much about the later. And not enough about the former. Having worked at NIH for two years in the mid-1980s, and with NIH for 10 years after that, I should know. And things have only gotten worse since I had the good opportunity and good sense to high tail it out of there.
But one former congressman had it right during NIH authorization hearings I witnessed 20 years ago. Congressman Ernest Istook (R-OK) got tired of being bamboozled by these NIH science bureaucrats for ever more money, despite the lack of meaningful progress against chronic disease. He cited back to them, chapter and verse, real statistics about heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s dementia.
In fact, he used a statistical trick that science bureaucrats like to use on Congress. He turned the tables and pointed out that increasing chronic disease rates were in direct proportion to increased NIH funding.
And he called these science bureaucrats, and I quote, “welfare queens in lab coats.”
Well, here we are, 20 years later with chronic diseases posing even bigger problems than ever.
Do you really believe that the cures that have eluded the NIH for this long will suddenly emerge in the next few days or weeks? Or escape — never to be found again — during a temporary government shutdown?
As much as the Washington fear-mongers would like us all to believe it to be true — that’s simply not how science works.
Besides, no real, self-respecting physician would withhold a cancer treatment, or any treatment, from a patient just because they were (temporarily) not being paid. Plus, thankfully, most doctors are not government employees. No, private physicians are not like our country’s bureaucrats, who start to wet their pants if they are late for a single meal, during a lifetime of feeding at the public trough.
After 40 years of floundering on cancer and other chronic diseases, how could anyone really think that not being able to do 40 more hours of the “same old, same old” could possibly make a critical difference? Especially when real, natural solutions have been hiding in plain sight all along.
NIH’s sister institution, the National Library of Medicine, also issued a “warning” that research information they make available to the health professions and to the public may not be “updated” during the shutdown.
Now, let’s put that into perspective…
It takes, on average, two years to develop a proposal for new research. Then, it takes another 18 months to get it through all the institutional reviews and funding committees. Then, another five years to perform the research. And finally, two more years to get it published.
Can a few more days here or there “updating” research possibly make a difference?
Furthermore, 90%of what gets published as “scientific research” today is basically worthless. It doesn’t advance our understanding of health and medicine in the least. And according to American Medical Association surveys, 91% of practicing physicians don’t read this medical research anyway. Instead, they get their new “information” from drug company salesmen.
So again, will missing out on the latest 40 hours of “updates” critically impact the quality of medical information? Let alone impact medical practice. Or health care?
Give me a break.
Well, how about all those “missing” inspectors at the USDA? Isn’t that dangerous?
Not really, if you inspect your own food. Wash your vegetables. Cook foods fully. And wash your hands and food preparation surfaces properly. Oh, yes. And buy locally grown foods. That will cut your risk too. In other words, use some common sense. It’s the one commodity really in short supply in the government.
And how about the FDA? What happens when it’s “missing in action” during the shutdown?
I call it a potential windfall!
Perhaps with the FDA momentarily out of the picture, we’ll finally get to hear the truth about the proven health benefits of dietary supplements. Instead of having to search between the lines due to twisted laws and regulations.
The government-industrial-medical establishment postures that they want medicine based on science. Except when it comes to natural medicine! The law forbids natural health companies from telling you the truth about all the scientific research on the ingredients in their natural products. (But you can count on me to keep writing about it.)
In fact, good, solid data shows that the public does better — with lower rates of morbidity and mortality — when big medical institutions are closed. Take Los Angeles County General Hospital as an example. It is the largest public hospital in the county. Research has shown for decades that countywide disease rates and death rates fall when the hospital is shut down due to public employee strikes.
And that raises another good point…
So many politicians seem to think it’s important to allow local public employees to unionize and strike whenever they want. This shuts down state and municipal governments around the country. So why does this same group of politicians think is it such a bad thing when the “nonessential” federal government shuts down and some nonessential government employees are “furloughed”?
Is it because they didn’t decide to strike? Instead, they were “forced” to take a paid vacation? (Yes, these furloughed workers will get paid in the end. In fact, after other government shutdowns over the last 25 years, “furloughed” workers get “back pay.” So essentially, today is just another day in federal paradise.)
I have not heard one sensible, truthful analysis of the government shutdown from one member of the mainstream media. Or from one, single politician.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Yet President Obama and his allies are busy telling citizens, “the only thing we have to use is fear.” Enough already with the melodrama, doom, and gloom.
You want to know what’s really scary?
Most people will never learn about all the dead wood that hides inside the federal government. The thousands and thousands of unelected bureaucrats who work for the relatively small handful of elected politicians make sure we never see the truth.
But here’s a good way to start.
The government spends one-third more than it extorts from the taxpayers. And it has 800,000 nonessential positions — by its own admission! Isn’t it obvious where to start cutting?
Take a look at the 800,000 jobs that even government “managers” have just called “nonessential.” Then, permanently eliminate every single one of them. Put them on permanent furlough. Can you or your business afford to have nearly one million nonessential positions on the payroll? So why should you be forced to pay for them, when you couldn’t do it yourself?
And go ahead, cut back on the NIH too, like everything else. Over the dozen years I was around there, I found all of two scientists (who had actually remained there for the long term), on the whole campus who could measure up to typical faculty members at an ivy league medical school, where I worked with a Nobel laureate for my doctoral dissertation. The rest were just “dug in” to keep the goodies flowing for a lifetime.
The beautiful grounds of the NIH are situated between three famous country clubs — maybe they should all just merge together.
So cut it back for good. And for the greater good.
What a healthy, new start it would be for the rest of us. And for our economy.
Always on the side of science,
Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D.
Article originally appeared here.