Agribusiness Freedom Foundation  
Home arrow Sentinel e-Newsletter arrow January 2008 arrow POPCFL
Main Menu
About AFF
Latest Op/Ed Release
Sentinel e-Newsletter
Newsletter Signup
Staff Bios
Make A Contribution
Contact Us
POPCFL PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Friday, 04 January 2008
AFF Sentinel Vol.5#01
The knack some people have for stifling innovation and progress is amazing. It is a common thread among big-government, left-leaning activists. Somehow, they are either ignorant of the effect their chosen policy positions have on progress or they are willing to pay the price for achieving a nearly zero-risk, government-controlled, "fair" society. That that price entails slowing innovation to a crawl, significantly higher costs to consumer/taxpayers and a lower standard of living for the "masses"seems not to concern those oh-so-concerned, ultra-compassionate liberals. Ironically, their "compassionate" approaches only really help what are referred to in humor as "sharks."

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial noted that Medtronic recently voluntarily pulled parts from one of their medical devices off the market: the wire leads that connect an implanted defibrillator to the heart ("Stopping Medicines Machines," 1/02/08). They did so because the deaths of five people - out of 268,000 people with the devices -- might be related to failure of the finer wire leads cardiologists had been requesting. I repeat, five out of 268,000 people with heart problems already. That is an infinitesimal number, roughly 20 in a million - unless you are one of the five or a trial lawyer. The morning after the withdrawal announcement, the Journal noted that trial lawyers began filing suits against the company.

The Journal noted that Medtronic's withdrawal might have been driven by "legal and political calculations" in a "post-Vioxx" world. In other words, trial lawyers are a major factor in reducing choices for patients. In their drive to extract dollars from companies using the slightest opening, trial lawyers are taking lifesaving devices and drugs away from the Average Joe. After all, any health care or device entails some risk.

Hence, my new term POPCFL: Professional Outage Profit Center For Lawyers. No chink is too small, no purpose too important - all risk must be eliminated, the public good be damned.

The beef industry has learned first hand the way trial lawyers think. Bills in Congress - one proposed amendment (Tester) to the Farm Bill was defeated in the Senate - would make it easier to sue packers so trial lawyers can extract ransoms. "" is an attempt to turn cattle into the next profit center for trial attorneys, like smoking or asbestos.

One of agriculture's preeminent populist proponents of government control is in the middle of the medical device fracas - Sen. Chuck Grassley (R- Ia). Medical device makers have consulting agreements with physicians who operate on patients. After all, who better to know what's needed and proper design than doctors who operate. Grassley is pushing legislation that would make public the financial details of all such consulting agreements. And while the Journal reports the companies don't mind, doctors do. Publication of such information would "create a registry of the deepest pockets for trial lawyer" targeting, the Journal notes.

Collaborations between doctors and device manufacturers are what drive innovation. If doctors can't be fairly compensated for research and development participation - left-leaning Grassley terms fees "kickbacks" -- the result will be fewer new devices and fewer lives saved.

The contracting and marketing agreements the livestock industry use specify the innovations and best management practices everyone in the production chain follows to improve the end result. The exchange of improvement information up and down the chain is similar to the interplay between physicians and medical device manufacturers developing new devices. Fascinating that Grassley is involved in both current Farm Bill legislation that would outlaw such agreements for both livestock producers and packers and legislation to make them problematic for doctors as well. Maybe Grassley would allow both industries to have agreements as long as no one makes any money and the government makes the decisions.

The Journal gives the trial lawyers and Sen. Grassley the benefit of the doubt, saying that while their intent might not be to strangle innovation or scare patients off life-saving devices, it is a "consequence of their opportunism." Perhaps ...but such consequences are inevitable from flawed policy approaches dictated by failed government models. The continued attack on the profit motive as an incentive for nearly everyone -- except trial lawyers -- is socialist thinking that has failed in real-world tests to produce the best outcomes. It brings everyone down to the lowest common level where no risk, no progress and high cost exist - with compassionate outcomes for trial lawyers.

 Email your comments to the author


Last Updated ( Monday, 18 February 2008 )
< Previous
designed by