The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hardened Criminals

Selling dangerous products to an unsuspecting populace has a long, proud history in the United States and around the world. So I hope no one thinks I'm just singling out China, given the number of times I've written about them in the last month or two. Merck's drug Vioxx, which had the company downplaying their own evidence of the drug's dangers-- ultimately costing them something like a billion dollars in compensatory damages (too bad the GOP has been a little too occupied with criminal activity to deny people the right to fight against the companies in court).

As you can see, I'm mostly ticked off about the role of America's corporations and leading conservatives in fighting to maintain the deadly status quo. When I talk to a particular conservative relative about anything business-related, his standard position is that companies "just do what they're meant to" by pursuing profit and nothing else. Simplistic? Sure. Amoral? You bet. But so many treat the (still nonexistent) free market as a religion-- and misusing religion as so many do, use it as nothing more than a justification for their own misdeeds-- that the US is becoming a sort of 'global enabler' of human rights abuses, consumer fraud, and intentional income inequality.

Oh, and maybe giving a big boost to organized crime:

China's Cabinet is drafting measures for stronger supervision over food safety, the government said Wednesday, as authorities announced busts on criminal networks that exported phony Viagra, bird flu medicine and anti-malaria drugs.

In the investigation into counterfeit drugs, police in five cities and provinces arrested 19 suspects in May 2006, closed six factories and seized 40 tons of materials used to fake the flu treatment Tamiflu, which has also been used to combat bird flu. The raid followed a tip from the U.S. Customs office in Beijing, the statement said.

The suspects were selling the drug to customers in the United States and elsewhere via the Internet, it said.

Tamiflu, you may recall, has been in very short supply domestically (although it seems to be of dubious merit anyway), undoubtedly causing worried Americans to seek it out elsewhere. Add to this the stories of factories that are literally using slaves to manufacture goods, and yes-- definitely a strong argument against the evils of regulation and for the ultimate benevolence of (imaginary) free markets.