THE NEW TOTALITARIANS
By Attorney Jonathan Emord
May 10, 2010
The typical regulatory agency rests atop a mountain of rules it has created, enforces those regulations selectively, and denies the property and liberty rights of those it accuses without ever having to prove that the rule violations have caused harm to anyone and without ever having to account for the agency’s abuses. When law punishes those whose actions do not cause provable harm, the law is a tyrant.
There are some 83 federal agencies that enforce tens of thousands of regulations over American industry. There is no business that is free from federal regulation. The influence of regulators over Americans’ business affairs is far greater than that of any politician elected to office. Indeed, regulators have the luxury of ruling without need for election, without need for real accountability to Congress, and without ever having to answer in a serious way for agency abuses. The heads of the independent federal regulatory agencies are the New Totalitarians.
To be the head of an independent regulatory agency is to rule with imperial power over a segment of the American marketplace. No elected official possesses comparable power (none has, as do the agency heads, combined legislative, executive, and judicial power). The directors and commissioners who reign in their appointed positions are dictators who accuse, judge, and try. Their word is law and to violate it is to face their wrath, including fines, injunctions against sale, and incarceration. Consider one example from among several I could offer.
A number of years ago I watched a veteran who was awarded three purple hearts for being shot repeatedly while fighting for his country be denied his life’s savings by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). My client, a senior citizen, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. After unsuccessfully battling the disease, he prepared to die. With his attending physician’s blessings, he discontinued chemo and radiation treatments and went home to pass away. On the recommendation of a friend, he began consuming an herbal tea that he made himself. The tea made him feel a lot better. Incredibly, months passed by and he survived, getting stronger and not weaker contrary to the medical predictions. Then his cancer appeared to go away bit by bit. While he attributed his good fortune to the tea he made and drank voluminously, there is not one shred of scientific evidence to support its cancer curative effects.
At first, he and his family were amazed that while the treatments he received for his cancer were noncurative, the tea seemed to be doing what the drugs did not. Overwhelmed by the good news that he had been healed and confident that the tea cured him, he told his relatives his story. They asked him for the tea. He mixed the herbs at home and made batches for them but found that he could not afford to keep giving it away for free, and he did not want to part with the recipe which he confidently thought a true cancer cure. He was careful to tell people that he really had no idea whether the tea was the cure for his cancer but that he could not think of anything else that could have saved him.
He then took a step that proved fateful. He was told by a net savvy friend that he ought to post his story on the web and sell the tea along side it; then everyone could try it for themselves and see if it worked. He decided to do it, but was careful to state on the web site that his experience could be unique and that he did not have scientific proof that the tea cured his cancer or could cure anyone else’s. He thought he was doing people a favor by making it available. He thought if the tea cured his cancer, it might cure someone else’s.
He had no scientific proof to support his claims, but he did not realize that he had to have such proof to present his story and sell the tea. He did not claim to be a doctor. He did not claim that he had scientific proof. He only relayed his story. He was well meaning. If he sold all the tea he had for the price he asked for it, he would never become rich. If he erred, he did so without any intent to bilk people of money; he offered them their money back.