Musings from Southern New Mexico

Month: September 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

Legislate on Snake Oil

Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) form a potent coalition defending the impotent concoctions of the snake oil industry.

I understand that the purveyors of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM, for short) have always had a friendly ear in Congress. That is, a friendly pocket. In addition to those individuals, the recent fashion of acting the part of quasi-Libertarian kook has taken the lower house by storm. Among the numerous incongruous ideas that Antiregulators blather about is that all regulation is bad. In particular, regulation with the potential to cut into the profits of decent wealtho-Americans is simply unacceptable. Clean water and a safe work environment are only the tip of the iceberg of disasters waiting to befall those who would let down their guard.

In such an environment, then, I would take a step with which the anti-governmentarians couldn’t reasonably take issue. Granted, reason is hardly a disqualifying factor for producing excremental arguments on the basis of “Freedom! Or something.”

My proposal is this: any treatment that the FDA does not currently look at may continue to receive the preferential status it currently enjoys as a “health supplement.” But the poultice, potion, or tincture of [insert natural or mysterious sounding name here] would be clearly labeled as a “Quack Medicine.” As well, physicians would be required by law to report any noted effects suspected to be the result of quack concoctions. Ironically, some quack medicines which purport to contain minuscule doses of the ichor of exotic plant or animal parts would actually lose their preferred status as a true quack medicine if the mixture were found to actually contain any of the substance.

I used to give my child colic pills that proved effective. I was shocked to see that the pills were supposedly homeopathic. They were similar to antacid tablets, in their chalky consistency. They felt similar in the mouth as well. The non-scientific conclusion would be that the producer was using an actual effective treatment, but bypassing any quality control or other FDA regulations by slapping on a nonsense label.

Just a thought that will never come to fruition so long as quackery is so damned profitable…

Excerpt from The Battle of Shiloh: Personal Recollections from Generals to Privates

A year or two ago, I listed to an audio book called “The Battle of Shiloh: Personal Recollections from Generals to Privates.” What struck me most, oddly, came in the last few minutes. Describing a reunion taking place nearly a half century after the epic battle, two former soldiers, one from each side, gave the closing speeches at the Sunday service:

After many a joke and story of the battle, the people adjourned to the church for services, the church being filled.

General Basil Duke, one of the Shiloh Park Commissioners, gave a fine address, giving his experience in the Battle of Shiloh where he was wounded. He was in Morgan’s command of the Confederate Army. Among other things, he said, “We fought in the Civil War for the cause we thought was right. We believed the rights given to us under the Constitution were being taken away from us.And you must admit that our love for our homes and property is as dear to us of the South as it is to you of the North.The people of the North believed that to divide the United States would destroy this nation. Time has proved under the providence of God that the judgement of the North was correct.For had we succeeded in establishing the Confederate States of America, no doubt later on other states would have felt aggrieved on some question and would have seceded and in time, had our cause won, this nation would have been divided into a great many small principalities governing themselves. Now the issues for the will of this great nation are as dear to us of the South as you of the North. General Duke closed his address by saying that, “we all rejoice at the fraternal feelings now existing between the North and the South and hope that ever these bonds of love and goodwill between us may grow and cement us together, stronger and stronger. And we shall continue to prosper and enjoy the rights and privileges of this great nation.”

W. F. Crummer of Chicago Illinois, on behalf of the boys in blue and their friends responded, contrasting the scenes of forty seven years ago with those of today. He said in part, “It was a beautiful Sabbath morning, April 6th, 1862. The birds were singing among the trees, and nature was putting forth her verdure of green when suddenly the boom of cannon, the shrieking of shells and the rattle of musketry heralded the beginning of one of the most terrible battles of the Civil War. I will not take the time to relate all my experiences of that battle, but simply say this: that when on Monday evening, we had regained our camp, we found a few Sibly tents all riddles with shot and shell and while you ex-Confederates here had possession of our camp, you took my knapsack, my blanket, the Testament my mother gave me, which I hope you read and profited thereby. You are welcome to that. But one thing you took made me feel badly and that was the picture of the girl I left behind. And I am here today to ask you to return that picture. The scene of that awful field of carnage and bloodshed changes, Today, after forty seven years have rolled by, the birds are singing in the trees and nature is putting forth its green as then. And all is peaceful. And instead of cannons and bullets greeting us, you meet us with open hands and extend to us a cordial greeting and your boundless hospitality. Our hearts are moved and we thank you most heartily. We rejoice with you that today we know no North or South or East or West, but one country reunited country with one flag and one nation, the grandest nation on the Earth. We trust that we shall always remain a happy and prosperous people, both North and South working together for the good of the entire country. …”

I find it interesting that those who actually witnessed the spilling of blood, including their own, were able to come together afterwards. But with the Southern Strategy, Nixon was able to dredge up the vestiges of “Lost Cause” mythos and its accompanying racism to achieve the phenomenal success of duping the victims of economic attack into supporting the same economic attack by covering it in a veneer of “States’ Rights” along with a gentle wink and nudge and whispered reference to “those people.”

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