GOVERNMENT ON STEROIDS
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
March 14, 2011
In a letter to James Madison dated December 20, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive. It places the governors indeed more at their ease, at the expense of the people.” The intellectual love of liberty that filled the mind of Jefferson and led him to distrust government power has no counterpart in Barack Obama. While Jefferson well understood the dangers of energy in government and sought to “bind” government actors “down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution,” President Obama views energetic government as his ally and ignores all constitutional constraints on the exercise of federal power. In addition to the massive expansion in federal intrusion into the private sector resulting from his health care and market reform laws, President Obama has unleashed the bureaucracy, funding it to heights never before achieved and encouraging it to become efficient in enforcing regulations of all kinds and in collecting fines. If we analogize the federal bureaucracy to an obese and sedentary man, we may view Dr. Obama’s treatment not to involve reduction in caloric intake but, rather, administration of steroids, enabling greater consumption of the fat of the land and greater activity to find that fat.
In mid to late 2010, the Obama Administration began a practice that bodes ill for the survival of the health food and dietary supplement industries. Historically, the FDA has regulated labels and labeling of foods and dietary supplements and has imposed a prior restraint on nutrient-disease claims, forbidding all claims that a nutrient in a food or dietary supplement could treat a disease (even if true) and forbidding without advance FDA approval all claims that a nutrient in a food or dietary supplement could reduce the risk of disease (even if true). Those prior restraints violate the basic premise of the First Amendment: to disarm the federal government of power to censor truthful speech. Prior restraints are particularly odious because they prevent truthful communication indispensable to the exercise of informed consumer choice. So it is that our grocery and health food stores are largely free of information concerning the latest scientific discoveries on the positive and negative effects of elements within foods. Literally tens of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles explain everything from the potential benefits of Coenzyme Q10 on prolonging the life of those suffering from congestive heart failure to the potential benefits of Vitamin D in reducing the risk of various kinds of cancer, yet that information is barred from the market by federal speech police. The effect is to deprive Americans of information that, if present, would lead to healthful choices, decreasing the incidence of preventable disease, including life threatening illnesses. As I explain in Global Censorship of Health Information, paternalistic government is costing Americans their lives.