Saturday, February 19, 2005

Power to the Person

Larry Salzman and Alex Epstein weigh in on the issue of Eminent Domain:

To such government officials, the fact that an individual earns a piece of property and wants to use and enjoy it, is of no importance--all that matters is "the public." But as philosopher Ayn Rand observed, "there is no such entity as 'the public,' since the public is merely a number of individuals...the idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others."
Matthew Dery, another property owner in Kelo warns that "People who've never experienced this sort of treatment at the hands of the government should realize that this could happen to them. You take for granted that, in America, you own your property until you choose to sell it, but that's not the way it is in New London or in Connecticut. If the City [is] allowed to get away with [it] . . . , [t]he knock at your door could be next."

And Alex Epstein again on the FDA:
The lesson to be drawn here is that drugs are neither "safe" nor "unsafe" as such; they carry different risks and benefits for different people. As a result, whether an individual should take a given drug or not is a contextual issue. It depends on the available knowledge about his genetic profile, the properties of the drug he is considering, and the resulting risks and expected benefits. It depends on the risks and benefits of his other options, including the often deadly option of inaction. These are some of the factors that an individual and his doctor must take into account if they are to make an objective decision
Unfortunately, individuals and doctors today cannot make such decisions--not consistently--due to the FDA's coercive power to keep drugs off the market. The basic premise behind this power is that individuals cannot judge for themselves what drugs to take given their individual circumstances and risk preferences, and thus the government must make collective determinations of risks and benefits--and enforce them on everyone. "To argue that people ought to be able to choose their own risks…" says former FDA commissioner David Kessler, "is to impose an unrealistic burden on people."
The era of the government collectively and coercively declaring which drugs are safe for Americans to take must come to an end, to be replaced by a new era of individual judgment and liberty. Many changes must be made to achieve this, but a first step is clear. While the government must continue to prosecute fraud in the manufacturing and marketing of drugs, it must end the FDA's power to keep pharmaceuticals off the market. more...


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