|No, We Can’t Trust the Government|
|to tell us the truth,
to be honest about research behind rules and recommendations,
to mandate vaccines that are safe and necessary,
to have our health records on a government database,
to send government “visitors” into our homes to tell us how to raise our children.
Conventional wisdom tells us “you get what you pay for.” But the Clinton Administration doesn’t want that maxim to apply to the taxpayers. When it comes to research about global warming, other environmental issues, gun control, vaccine mandates, and social programs, Clinton does not want the public to get the data we have paid for. By blocking access to that research, the Clinton bureaucrats can mold and distort the conclusions any way they want.
The Clinton spinmeisters have figured out that announcing policies, rules and recommendations without providing the research backup that allegedly justifies them is a neat way to advance liberal goals. They force the taxpayers to fund a study about some social issue, and then spin the results to favor liberal programs.
The pollsters learned this trick long ago. By slanting their choice of questions or the wording of the questions, pollsters can produce virtually any answers their clients want. Research data are not very different from polling data. For a conclusion to be credible, the backup data must be available for review by others, including who asked what, when, where and how.
The federal budget every year includes the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars for studies and research. The data are analyzed and reported by persons who may have undisclosed conflicts of interest or ideological biases, so it is foolish to put blind faith in their conclusions.
Yet for years, taxpayers have been prevented from seeing certain research data that we financed and, instead, what we get is a report on data that we are not allowed to examine for ourselves. Concealing mistakes and fraud is, therefore, no problem, and biasing the conclusions in favor of a liberal result is a process without penalty.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) tried to end this travesty by inserting the following provision into last year’s omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 105-277): “all data produced under an award will be made available to the public through the procedures established under the Freedom of Information Act” (FOIA). In other words, if taxpayers paid for the research through a federal grant or award, then taxpayers can see what they paid for, except for limited FOIA exemptions to protect legitimate privacy and commercial interests.
The Clinton Administration is fighting the Shelby law tooth and nail. The Office of Management and Budget has proposed two regulations (amending OMB Circular A-110) that would completely gut the Shelby provision.
The first proposed regulation, issued early this year, would limit public access to data relating to research findings that are actually published, and also force the public to pay substantial charges in order to access such data. But lots of federally-funded research does not result in published findings, and sometimes the unpublished findings are more important than what is published.
As bad as this first proposed regulation was, the Clinton Administration is now trying to gut the Shelby provision even further.
The second proposed regulation would block the public from accessing data we paid for unless the data relate to findings “used by the Federal Government in developing a regulation.” This proposal then defines “regulation” to include only regulations that are subject to the formal notice and comment procedure. This second proposal would exclude from public scrutiny the underlying data that allegedly justify the big majority of government policies and rules. It would exclude vaccine recommendations and many policies about the environment and guns.
Adding insult to injury, this second proposed regulation even suggests completely disregarding the Shelby provision for regulations that have an alleged impact of less than $100 million. Many of the most harmful government regulations have a monetary impact that is arguably less than $100 million.
Supporters of the Clinton regulations argue that the research process would be compromised if the public can compare the researchers’ conclusions with their data. In fact, it’s only the mistakes and distortions in the researchers’ conclusions that would be threatened.
Public identifications of bureaucratic and even scholarly errors are frequent. It was two private citizens, not government investigators, who exposed the FBI lies about inflammable gas used at Waco. It was the public, not the experts, who had to tell a new TV game show that it erred in insisting that Lake Michigan is the second largest Great Lake rather than Lake Huron.
Less than a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cited unpublished data in recommending that virtually all infants should receive the rotavirus vaccine. Then recently, the CDC reversed itself and said that no one should receive this harmful vaccine, citing reasons that may have been evident in the unpublished data all along.
Mistakes in Vaccine Mandates
Vaccine-caused injuries recently forced the Clinton bureaucrats to make four sensational announcements that have embarrassed the bureaucrats’ plans to force all American children to submit to government-dictated medical treatment.
On July 15, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) halted the use of the oral rotavirus vaccine, which is given to infants to prevent one of the major causes of diarrhea, after reports that the vaccine caused a bowel obstruction in some infants that required surgery to repair. The bowel obstruction, called intussusception, results when one portion of the bowel slides inward, like a telescope, into another part of the bowel and causes blockage. A previously healthy infant suddenly screams in paroxysms of pain.
In its initial trial, the rotavirus vaccine appeared to cause intussusception at 30 times the average rate, which should have called for additional tests. But instead of testing further, the CDC went ahead with its recommendation and the vaccine manufacturer subjected babies to more than a million doses of this unnecessary, expensive, and inadequately tested vaccine.
While the risk of intussusception may have been mentioned on the package insert, it was not on the vaccine information statement given to parents. The arbitrariness of government vaccine mandates is shown by the fact that, for the previous year, CDC was recommending that the vaccine be given to all infants, and then suddenly a CDC spokesman started saying, “No one should now be giving rotavirus vaccine to anyone.”
The second sensational vaccine announcement came on July 9, when the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and the AAP issued a joint statement cancelling their previous recommendation to inject the hepatitis B vaccine into all newborns while they are still in the hospital. PHS and AAP now recommend that vaccination of newborns be limited to those who are at risk of getting hepatitis B from their infected mothers.
Their remarkable backtracking from the universal mandate for newborns probably resulted from the widespread publicity given to the many cases of vaccine damage causing lifetime injury or death reported on ABC’s 20/20 and at the May 18 hearing conducted by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources. PHS and AAP continue to recommend the hepatitis B vaccine for infants at 2 to 6 months of age, even though few of them are at risk.
Meanwhile, 42 states require the hepatitis B vaccine for schoolchildren, although teachers and health care workers are not required to receive it. The legislator who sponsored the hepatitis B mandate in Ohio admitted that he did so at the request of a vaccine manufacturer lobbyist, while Governor Christine Whitman is trying to impose a New Jersey requirement administratively, without legislation.
In another announcement the same day, PHS-AAP issued a joint statement that revealed the risk to children of vaccines containing mercury and called on the FDA to “assess the risk of all mercury-containing food and drugs.” A mercury product called thimerosal is used as a preservative in many vaccines, even though the FDA last year banned its use in over-the-counter products for safety reasons.
Under the current CDC schedule, most infants receive a total of 15 doses of mercury-containing vaccines by the time they are six months old, many given simultaneously. The fact that the FDA has prohibited the use of thimerosal for most products, but continues to allow its use for vaccines, sounds like political corruption in the vaccine approval process.
The National Vaccine Information Center has been criticizing the use of mercury in vaccines for many years. Contact lens solution bottles routinely advertise that they contain “no thimerosal,” yet any damage to adults from contact lens solutions must be minuscule compared to the same product ingested by or injected into infants.
The fourth announcement came on June 17, when government officials voted to withdraw their recommendation for the use of the live poliovirus vaccine, and to recommend the “exclusive” use of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine. Since 1979, the only polio cases in the United States have been caused by the live vaccine because, taken by mouth, it travels through the child’s body and can cause polio in a parent changing the diaper.
The unjustified delay in converting to the safer polio vaccine is due to mandatory vaccination laws that require the public to use a certain product. The government still demands that babies be given four doses of polio vaccine, even though, according to Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., “The Western Hemisphere was certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as polio free in 1994, and no case of polio has been reported in this region since 1991.”
Whether universal vaccine mandates are good for children is becoming increasingly controversial, but it is certain that these mandates serve two other goals:
the pharmaceutical corporations whose profits depend on universal mandates rather than on sales to those at risk for disease, and
the original Clinton national health plan to put the health records of all Americans on government databases so that the government can dictate (or deny) health care. We are long overdue for a Congressional investigation into the validity of research and licensing standards for vaccines, the results of clinical trials (if any), the motives of the vaccine policymakers, and the conflicts of interest of those responsible for the recommendations.
Hanky-Panky Behind Vaccines
After parents whose children had been severely damaged from vaccines attended a couple of congressional hearings, we might have thought Bill Clinton’s response would have been, “I feel your pain.” Not on your life. The Clinton Administration instead floated plans to gut the federal trust fund that compensates the families of children who are injured or killed by reactions to vaccines.
Surgeon General David Satcher told a House committee on August 3 that Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala might recommend that a large portion of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s $1.4 billion trust be turned over to vaccine research. That would be a cruel betrayal of the parents who financed this trust fund by a 75 cents per dose assessment on vaccines and were promised compensation from it in exchange for virtually eliminating the pharmaceutical companies’ financial liability for injuries caused by their products.
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 11,000 complaints last year from doctors or parents. In presenting their claims of vaccine damages, parents must face a battery of 17 full-time, veteran Justice Department lawyers assigned to argue against them. These lawyers have been successful in denying compensation to all but 1,300 of 5,300-plus families. The Clinton Administration has tightened the screws to make it more and more difficult for parents to get any compensation.
Since most children today get up to 33 immunizations before they can be admitted to public school, parents are starting to ask a fundamental question. Which is the greater risk: getting and being injured by the disease, or being injured by the vaccine that purports to protect against it?
For example, serious adverse events after receiving the hepatitis B vaccine, including 48 deaths, are reported three times as frequently as actual cases of hepatitis B in children under the age of 14. And, the only polio cases in the United States since 1991 have been those caused by the oral polio vaccine, whose use was discouraged only a few weeks ago!
Adults are free to assume risk for reasons of their choice: health, safety, protection of family or property, entertainment, or even excitement. But risk is not something that government, in a free society, should ordinarily force people to accept.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has written Secretary Shalala a letter charging that “federal vaccine policy results in the violation of informed consent, and is based on incomplete studies of efficacy and potential adverse effects of the vaccines.” The AAPS letter points out that federal vaccine “recommendations” are transformed into “mandates by state health departments,” and that schools often require many vaccines “as a condition of attendance.”
These adverse events include not only immediate reactions to the vaccines, such as seizures and even death, but also possible long-term effects from damage to a child’s immune system. We urgently need an independent study to discover if there is a relationship between vaccines (especially when so many are given to infants in multiple doses) and the dramatic recent increases in autism and asthma. (USA Today, Aug. 16, 1999)
The peremptory demand that all infants be immunized, regardless of whether they are at risk, is now being imitated by the U.S. Armed Forces. In May 1998, the Department of Defense mandated anthrax vaccination — requiring six shots in the first 18 months followed by annual booster shots — for all 2.4 million service personnel.
Serious questions have been raised about the vaccine’s safety. (USA Today, Aug. 4 & 6, 1999) The vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1970 after being tested on only 26 human recipients, and the long-term effects are unknown. Israel does not force its military to take this vaccine. Neither does France. Neither does England. No country in Europe or Asia forces this vaccine on its soldiers.
There is so much opposition to the anthrax vaccination among the military that morale and combat readiness are suffering. This vaccine policy has caused an ominous exodus of some of our most experienced pilots from the reserves and the Air National Guard. There is something drastically amiss when hundreds of servicemen with exemplary records are accepting court martial, dishonorable discharge, pay reduction, and time in the brig rather than obey an order to be vaccinated.
So who is profiting from this gigantic vaccine mandate? The Pentagon contracted with a single supplier, BioPort Corp., and recently agreed to pay $10.64 per dose even though the contractual obligation was only $4.36 per dose. ABC News reported that Admiral William J. Crowe Jr. owns 22.5% of Intervac, which gives him a 13% share of BioPort, even though he hasn’t “invested a penny” in the venture. (ABC News, Mar. 12, 1999) Crowe was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bush, but made big news in 1992 when he gave Clinton “cover” for his draft dodging. Clinton rewarded Crowe with the prize plum of appointment as Ambassador to England.
The Pentagon badly needs Congressional supervision, and Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced separate bills to halt the mandatory anthrax vaccinations.
‘Big Sister’ Is Watching
Are the American people willing to allow government agents to come into their homes to “advise” them how to care for their babies? What if the announced purpose of these home visits is to look for child abuse under the assumption that all parents are suspects?
The plan to send “home visitors” into the homes of all first-time parents is one more example of the pervasive liberal push to monitor law-abiding citizens under the pretext of catching criminals. The model for universal home visitation is Healthy Families America (HFA), a program developed by the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse (NCPCA), now known as Prevent Child Abuse America. The HFA program calls for 50+ in-home visits annually per family for those considered most “at risk.” The home visitors are paraprofessionals and volunteers who are called “trained,” but may have only a high school education. These recruits are supposed to educate parents on “proper parenting practices” and to monitor child development. NCPCA materials make it clear that parents should never spank their children, and state that “no child needs a spanking, spanking can be dangerous.”
The agency’s contact with the family may be initiated before the mother gives birth and continues through age five. The home visitor links the families to other health and social services until the child enters school. HFA claims to be voluntary, but the NCPCA’s stated goal is “to provide home visiting services to all new parents.” Special attention is given to those deemed to be “at risk.” A family’s level of risk is determined by screening the hospital, and sometimes even clinic, records on 15 risk factors. The long list of risk factors includes the age of the mother, divorce, late prenatal care, previous abortions, and depression. Some of the definitions are so nebulous that almost any parent could be labelled “at risk.”
It is unlikely that all the women being screened have given “informed consent” to this government monitoring. Some consent forms are part of hospital admission procedures and are easily misunderstood, and most expectant mothers are in labor when they enter the hospital. The fact that assessment workers (who have reviewed the mother’s medical records) possess intimate information about the women they are soliciting makes the “voluntary” nature of the program suspect.
In 1992, NCPCA adopted Hawaii’s “Healthy Start” program as the national model for child abuse prevention, and HFA programs are currently operating in 40 states under various names. Vermont’s HFA program plan states that “the purpose of home visits is to assess the family’s needs and to evaluate the family for child abuse potential.” It is not difficult to imagine that many parents might be labeled “at risk” due to the home visitor’s inexperience, inadequate training, or overzealousness. Indiana’s HFA program has grown from a quarter million dollars five years ago to $40 million today, with 58 sites in 91 counties, and HFA literature makes it clear that the goal is “all families.” Indiana’s sites use electronic data collection systems that gather an extensive array of client data.
Last October, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) wrote a Dear Colleague letter to other House Members warning that HFA “sets a dangerous precedent” and represents “the village mentality run wild.” He described the program as “Big Brother intervention as we have never seen it before,” noting that “Americans have never experienced such intrusion in their family lives.”
Rep. Hyde’s letter notes that all HFA program data will be kept in a nationwide computerized tracking system called the Program Information Management System (PIMS), and could eventually be combined with preschool and public school tracking systems when children enter the education system.
Sending government “visitors” into private homes to monitor child rearing and enter family information on a government database is part and parcel of the Clinton Administration’s drive for totalitarian control over our daily lives. It’s time for a total repudiation of all the totalitarian impulses of the Clinton Administration.