Monday, July 1, 2013
The CDC Is Out of Control
In the recent movie 'Contagion,' the good guys are the doctors and other professionals at the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In real life, we mostly hear about the CDC during flu season and whenever there's a new contagious disease scare.
So no one would have expected the CDC to suddenly become the scourge of demon rum, peddling junk science to advance a neo-prohibitionist agenda, but that's exactly what's happening. Their most visible campaign has been in Pennsylvania, where they're dishonestly pushing a position that isn't even credible, that liquor privatization will inevitably lead to significant upticks in alcohol abuse.
According to a new story in The Weekly Standard (so new it's dated July 8th), that's just the beginning. Between the stimulus bill and Obamacare, billions are being funneled to the CDC to do health promotion. That's a very broad mandate and for reasons unknown, CDC has decided to throw a lot of that money at alcohol, not by funding alcoholism treatment programs, or information programs urging people with alcohol problems to seek help, but instead by, as Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot put it in 1933, trying to make purchasing alcohol “as inconvenient and expensive as possible.”
The article points out why it is probably illegal for CDC to even take sides on a controversial political issue like Pennsylvania liquor privatization.
The CDC has been politicized before, as when they dragged their heels in the early days of AIDS, supporting the Reagan administration's denial agenda.
If the administration wants to do something useful involving alcohol, they might do well to send some of CDC's money to the Treasury Department's Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which has an actual job to do, which it has had trouble doing due to an explosion of new label approval applications. Used to working with large corporations who have a vested interest in staying within the rules, the TTB is now working with hundreds of small producers, some of whom don't know what they're doing, some of whom are deliberately trying to deceive the public, and most of whom try to push the envelope wherever they can.
President Obama is known to enjoy a beer now and then, but there appear to be many in his administration who harbor the old Progressive belief that humans can be improved, even when they don't want to be, through the benevolent intervention of the government. That's exactly what led to Prohibition the first time around. No one should be looking forward to the sequel.