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GM ignition deaths, derelict regulation, who is ultimately behind it all Pt. 4

Road leading to GM world headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, where failure to repair a 57 cent ignition part has resulted in over 100 deaths and over $1 billion in costs for massive recall repairs.
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Continues from Part 3...

Includes: Obama’s public health regulatory policies in lock step with the pro-corporate regulatory criteria handed down by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, confronting corporate-created Daubert Rules, the Data Quality Act, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the public’s obligation, and the way to reform the country’s derelict public health regulatory system, from outside Washington

Obama’s regulatory agenda is straight out of the halls of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis

Not only has Obama shown he is no different than Bill Clinton, in regards to his views of public health regulations versus corporate priorities, but he is also no different from virtually any prior Republican administration.

Heading the keynote speaker slot for this past March 20-21, 2014, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis’ two day conference on “Risk, Perception, and Response,” was Barak Obama’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) from 2009 to 2012, Cass Sunstein, who’s keynote speech was: “Choosing Not to Choose.” (a corporate public relations’ spin on avoiding regulation.)

Cass Sunstein, a law professor, and longtime Harvard associate of Barak Obama, has been a firm backer of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis’ (HCRA) mantra of cost-benefit analysis of public health regulations— which continually downgrades regulations to protect the public’s health, in order to protect profits margins of corporations.

And Sunstein’s views are no different than other Republican-placed head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), such as John D. Graham, founder and director of the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis before becoming the head of the OIRA under Bush in 2001, or of Jim Tozzi who headed the OIRA under Reagan in the early 1980s, when the office was first established.

In his position as head of the OIRA— which oversees all regulatory decisions of all the public health and safety regulatory agencies— Cass Sunstein has performed as one would expect one to perform, who follows the corporate values of the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis.

Of the hundreds of regulations issued during Sunstein’s tenure at the OIRA, “three-quarters were changed at OIRA, often at the urging of corporate interests, according to an analysis from the Center for Progressive Reform, a liberal-leaning group that monitors federal regulation. For rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, the figure was closer to 80 percent, the group found. In virtually every case, the rule was weakened, the group claimed.”

Like John D. Graham and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Sunstein believes in “cost-benefit” safety regulations designed to minimize the cost of “market risks”— human lives— for the best interest of industry profits. Which puts a price tag (and a cheap one at that) on human lives, and risks to human health and to the environment, in accordance to their “corporate value.”

“Sunstein has argued that regulations should focus not on how many lives it saves, but how many years of life it can preserve. He wrote, ‘[o]ther things being equal, a program that protects young people seems far better than one that protects old people, because it delivers greater benefits.’ This has been dubbed by critics as the ‘senior death discount.’”

One of the fundamental problems with Sunstein’s “brave new world” analysis— from a lawyer without any biological or medical background— is that the very same products that are going to harm the elderly are also going to harm the youth of this country. And in terms to exposure (other than pharmaceutical drugs), the youth are going to be far more chronically exposed, and end up being far more at risk than the elderly, in their increasing exposure to non-regulated-for-safety high-tech products.

And, every political and public health journalist in the United States who had written eight years earlier to protest placing John D. Graham as head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for the Bush Administration in 2001, knew that Sunstein would perform the job exactly as Graham had— according to the dictates of cost benefit analysis of the Harvard Center or Risk Analysis. And not one of them said one word against it. Because, to all of them, their priority was to protect the reputation of a Democratic president over the safety and security of the American public. And that is the sad and pathetic reality of what U.S. journalism has come to today-- protecting political parties and not the American public.

Don't Put the Fox in Charge of the Hens, LA Times, July 19, 2001 (warning about John D. Graham)

In fact, in March of 2009, the Chicago Tribune, published a glowing tribute to Cass Sunstein, putting him on the cover of their Sunday "Trib" magazine, along with Barak Obama and the economist Auston Goolsbee. Praising their neo-liberal, free market, deregulation agendas, in the article "Obamanomics: The Education of a president, The Chicago School way" (3/22/09).

Meanwhile, Obama had nothing but praise for Sunstein’s tenure at the OIRA from 2008 to 2012:

“Cass Sunstein has shepherded our review of existing rules to get rid of those that cost too much or no longer make sense, an effort that is already on track to save billions of dollars. With these reforms and his tenacious promotion of cost-benefit analysis, his efforts will benefit Americans for years to come.”

Obama praised Sunstein for his “cost-benefit” regulations that derailed or watered down over 75% of public health safety regulations, which saved $billions for U.S. corporations. Allegedly speaking for the American public, Obama claims the money saved by corporations “will benefit Americans for years to come.”

Obama still doesn’t get real costs and benefits of public health regulations

What Obama still doesn’t get, and will never get at this point, is that the amount of money saved in the short run— by stopping public safety regulations— is dwarfed by the amount of money that could have been saved in the long run, to actually benefit the American public— by taking the responsible steps to protect the public’s health from exposures to hazardous industry products that are producing an unprecedented numbers of new cases of cancers, autism, and diagnoses of Alzheimer’s, along with a host of other debilitating disease conditions. Literally costing $trillions per year, which could be saved, if responsible public health regulations were installed.

These, and most other, disease conditions, whose costs are bankrupting the U.S., are at least 90% preventable, as communities across the world, that are not chronically exposed to the multitude of unregulated hazardous industry products that Americans are chronically exposed to, are testament to.

And this has nothing to do with these communities across the world having “special” DNA. They have the same DNA, and the same susceptibility to cancers, and every other major disease conditions, as Americans. Only their DNA is not abnormally altered by a steady barrage of foreign, and totally abnormal, manmade hazards chronically impacting upon it.

According to the U.S. healthcare industry, cancers, and virtually all other major diseases, along with fetal abnormalities like autism, and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, are overwhelmingly the result of the “supposedly” inherently faulty DNA of those that get these disease conditions. Which is a very convenient way to protect the industries and their products that are actually responsible for causing well over 90% of these conditions. And, a “theory” that also just happens to take a page right out of playbook of the tobacco industry.

To show just how far the U.S. healthcare industry has come to an alliance with corporate America over the past several decades— back in the 1970s the tobacco industry was proposing just such an explanation for lung cancer among those that smoked. They claimed that it wasn’t the cigarette smoke that caused the vast majority of lung cancer cases, but the inherently faulty susceptibility of the DNA of those that just happened to get lung cancer from smoking cigarettes.

Back then it was called the “blame the victim” theory. Today, the U.S. healthcare industry’s “explanation” for the outrageous rises of preventable diseases and fetal abnormalities in the population is supposedly just the result of the U.S. healthcare industry’s “better surveillance” capability to identify these problems. That these disease conditions were always there, and always in the same numbers as today, as a result of the public’s inherently faulty DNA, and not the result of increasing hazardous product exposures altering the public's inherently sound DNA.

Do you believe them?

The reality is that U.S. doctors who subscribe to this new “blame the DNA” explanation, and cover for the industries, actively or passively, whose hazardous products are delivering an endless stream of patients to their doors, are themselves significantly responsible for the surge of these, mostly preventable, disease conditions in the population.

And if you’re interested in some of the real causes of conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s, and backed up by the studies and the facts, and not the usual corporate PR distortions, you can also see: “Product safety regulations could cut health costs by $1 TRILLION per year, Pt 1” at:

Reform the regulatory system or accept the inevitable: corporations dictating the safety of your health

Currently, the U.S. regulatory system that oversees the public’s health and safety is a complete mess.

A result of decades of progressively allowed corporate and political corruption that has whittled away and compromised the intended purpose of public health and safety regulations— which is to protect the public’s health and safety over and above corporate profits. Not, as Clinton and Obama interpret it: as equal to, or in deference to, corporate profits.

And if the present situation is allowed to stand as is, occurrences like the GM ignition starter deaths are only going to increase, along with the continual downgrading of the public’s health, and the accompanying increasing and crippling debt it is causing the nation— which is dwarfing any of the profit advantages gained by not properly regulating industry products for safety.

Reform, if it ever comes, is only going to come if and when the public decides that the American system is going to work for them, instead of working for corporations and Wall Street, and the politicians they bankroll. Right now, and the way it has been for decades, safety regulations have not been what the public wants, but what the elite in this country want— and it doesn’t matter if they’re Democrats or Republicans.

And if and when reforms are addressed, the reforms needed will have to be major ones— in restructuring the public health regulatory system, and not just patch-up jobs or personnel changes that come with a new political administration, which do nothing to alter the underlying chaos that is increasingly putting the American public’s health and safety at risk.

Real reform is going to have to include a new group of regulators who are not corrupted by industry and political influence, scientific criteria used in regulatory agencies that are not corrupted by industry and political influence, and accountability paid by those who continually, and with reckless endangerment, place the public’s health and safety at risk of injury and death by abusing the regulatory system, which is directly the result of corrupted industry and political influence.

Reversing Daubert Rules, removing the Data Quality Act, changing the OIRA, and breaking up the HCRA

The Daubert rules, the Data Quality Act, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) are four major components of the present, broken, public health regulatory system that have added hugely to its dereliction of intended purpose.

The Daubert decisions/rules should be reversed on multiple counts.

The original Daubert court case was fraudulently handled from the start. The defense witness for Merrell-Dow, the Atlantic Legal aligned scientist, Dr. Steven H. Lamm, blatantly misrepresented his written testimony to the lower court by proposing that his dismissal of, otherwise, correctly applied, scientific evidence— that clearly showed a drug involved in the birth defects of the boys seeking justice for the damages visited upon them by their mother’s use of the drug while pregnant— was allegedly “unbiased,” and attempting only to reveal “sound science,” when Lamm’s intention was for the exact opposite purpose— to undermine sound science and protect the pharmaceutical corporation on trial paying his salary.

And Lamm’s motives— if at all capable of being debated in this first part of the Daubert case— were clearly revealed in the pattern of similar written testimonies Lamm took part in after Daubert. Also on behalf of Atlantic Legal’s pro-corporate agendas, which clearly showed an obvious and blatant conflict of interest with industry motives— to paint actual sound science as “unsound science.” (See part 1)

Second, the 18 scientists organized by Atlantic Legal committed fraud from the outset in their amicus brief to the Supreme Court, when, in their introduction, under the heading, INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE, stated: “We appear solely as individuals, on our own behalf, to inform the Court of our views….” They were in fact appearing specifically not on their own behalf, but specifically on the behalf of the interests of Atlantic Legal that organized them, and on behalf of Atlantic Legal’s interest in changing admissible expert scientific evidence in the courts to protect its corporate clients. Which Atlantic Legal now takes full credit for on its website, to now attract corporate clients, who are now in a better position of defending their interests in court — thanks to Atlantic Legal’s impact on swaying the Supreme Court to pass Daubert rules. (Daubert amicus brief) (Atlantic Legal taking credit for Daubert decision)

Third, the Supreme Court had no right at all in giving trial judges the role of “gatekeepers” over deciding what constitutes sound science over “unsound science,” based upon the methodology of the expert scientific research, upon which judges, who have zero background in the sciences or medicine, are subsequently completely ill-equipped to pass judgment. Just as scientists and doctors have no business or legitimacy dictating to lawyers or judges how to practice law.

And finally fourth, the Daubert decision and its new rules limiting expert scientific evidence in the courts has resulted in blocking actual sound expert scientific evidence. And has resulted in a 2-fold, 100%, increase in summary decisions for corporations— infringing on the public’s constitutional right to a jury trial.

The Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to a jury verdict. And to get a jury verdict, you need to be tried before a jury— which is being denied by judges acting as “gatekeepers” of scientific evidence they have no capacity to pre-analyze for juries, as to its veracity, or non-veracity.

As for the Data Quality Act, this is a federally applied version of the Daubert rules, designed by its corporate backers to stop regulatory agencies from initiating health and safety regulations on hazardous industry products. And if the Daubert rules are reversed and denied to be constitutional, as they should be, then the Data Quality Act should also be stricken from the law.

Additionally, since the Data Quality Act (DQA) was never voted on or passed as a legitimate piece of legislation—since it was fraudulently pushed through, hidden as a “stealth rider” in a budget bill— it should not be given the consideration of a legitimately passed law.

While if there was poetic justice in the U.S. justice system, Jim Tozzi, who created the DQA, would be arrested and incarcerated— in a summary decision without a jury trial— in a maximum security prison for complicity in the deaths of at least 200 children and countless other U.S. citizens he has been responsible for the death of, through criminal reckless endangerment, by blocking critical public and safety health regulations over the course of his decades-long career— regardless if he didn’t leave his "fingerprints" behind.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has to be significantly restructured.

Created by Reagan, and refocused by Bill Clinton in his Executive Order 12866 in 1994, and praised by Obama in his own regulatory Executive Order in 2011, the OIRA, which oversees all the federal public health and safety regulatory agencies, has the power to squash any public health and safety regulatory suggestions that come through its office, and is a flat out slap in the face to any conceivable concept of democracy.

The OIRA was designed by corporations, and is doing exactly what it was designed to do— stop, or severely undermine, at least 75% of public safety regulations issued from federal regulatory agencies from being implemented.

Furthermore, its decisions are made by one political appointee, who also just happens to be a lawyer or an economist or a statistician, and ignorant in the areas of science, biology and medicine, upon which the regulations that come through this office are based.

And even if the head of the OIRA had a scientific background, it is ludicrous, and criminal, to allow one person— and a politically appointed person at that— to have control over accepting or denying proposed public health and safety regulations that impact the entire U.S. population. And constitutes nothing short of placing a dictator, beholden to no one, at the head of the U.S health and safety regulatory system, who is squarely in the pocket of the agendas of corporations who lobbied for the creation of the office and the abuse of its powers from the start.

The OIRA should only be involved in coordinating the regulatory decisions submitted to it by the separate public health and safety regulatory agencies.

And like the top bureaucratic positions of federal regulatory agencies like the FDA, EPA, etc., the OIRA should not be headed by political appointees, as is currently allowed.

Instead, the ORIA, and all U.S. federal regulatory agencies, should be headed by a board of scientists and doctors, who are voted in by the scientific community. And who are additionally vetted for industry conflicts of interest by an independent Congressional investigating committee, with seats set aside for actual public interest reps (not industry front groups or corporate funded “public interest” environmental groups) to observe— such as from the Center for Progressive Reform or The Environmental Working Group— to ensure the best possible degree of transparency for the election of these critically important public service positions.

The obvious weak link in the present regulatory system is that the OIRA, and the federal regulatory agencies it oversees, are susceptible to any and all political and corporate corruption. And because of this, these critical regulatory groups have to be restructured to act as independently, and as autonomously, as possible— to create a firewall from political, corporate and militaries pressures, which have nothing to do with the job of regulating and assessing sound scientific research on the potential hazards of industry products, required to protect the public’s health.

And to apparently have to state the other obvious fact— the public’s health is a constant, which means its vulnerability to potential hazardous industry products does not change depending upon which political administration is in power, or what special interest pressures are imposed upon it from corporations or the military. And because of this obvious fact, the regulatory boards that oversee the public’s health and safety have to be removed from the seesawing corruption of political, corporate and military influence.

As for the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis— to put it simply and bluntly, this organization was created by corporations in 1989 by a blatantly pro-corporate, anti-regulator, John D. Graham, and it has been working for corporations, and against regulations to protect the public’s health or the environment’s security, ever since.

This organization, which sets the risk standards for all the federal health and safety regulatory agencies, as well as advising corporations on how to avoid having their products regulated, is the furthest thing possible from a legitimate risk assessment group. And it hides its illegitimate motives behind the outwardly respectable image of Harvard University.

From its inception, it has put forth risk assessment criteria designed to protect corporate interests, not the public’s health. And no legitimate scientist or doctor would endorse the relative risk assessments that the HCRA dictates to U.S. health and safety regulatory agencies to follow.

And unless all ties are cut with this fraudulent organization— which is in lock step with the philosophy of the pro-corporate and anti-regulatory views of the Atlantic Legal Foundation that set the foundation for the Daubert Rules, and all the unsound science that has been steadily built upon it— the public’s health and safety is only going to be increasingly, and criminally irresponsibly, compromised, and placed in increasingly states of real risks— not corporate PR slanted “non-risks.”

Additionally, and conveniently overlooked, the free market "justifications" Atlantic Legal hides its motives behind ignores two fundamental principles, steeped in reality, which completely negate Atlantic Legal’s credibility.

One, that free market theories of deregulation are no longer relevant, because they refuse to consider how hazardous high-tech industry products have progressively become since the founding of the United States, upon which free enterprise (non-regulation) philosophies were based. And that not now regulating products for safety, and/or hiding behind fraudulent concepts of “sound science” to achieve the same results, is allowing U.S. industries to build up an economy of products that are concurrently destroying the health of the U.S. population— creating a house of cards economy that can only implode upon itself the longer it is allowed to continue.

And two, Atlantic Legal, which proudly promotes its roster of outwardly respectable physicists to write amicus briefs to block the public from getting justice in the courts, ignores one of the fundamental and universal laws OF physics— the law of entropy, which acknowledges that as a system grows larger and more complex, it moves increasingly towards chaos. And the only way to stave off chaos is to increase regulations.

Over the course of evolution, nature has done just this— with creating increasingly complex, and increasingly effective, biological regulatory systems for each progressively complex species, in order to stave off disease and premature death. And in societies, the end result is no different. You either increase responsible regulations as your society grows in size and complexity, or your public suffers the consequences— which is exactly what is going on now, and well beyond health and safety issues.

Changes are only going to be initiated from outside the system

As things stand now, the U.S. regulatory system is not only corrupted thoroughly from within, but those that have the opportunity to make the critical changes needed, are themselves corrupted by the same corporate influences.

So, unfortunately, and though this was not how the system was designed to work, if the public wants changes, the public is going to have to initiate changes itself, from outside the system.

And while for decades independent public interest groups have been trying to accomplish this, and have been making select degrees of progress on individual issues, they have done nothing to alter the progressively corrupted structure that lies at the foundation, and from which the problems are ultimately derived.

And until you get to the source of the problem, and force the government to make the fundamental changes needed to the public health regulatory system— from which hundreds and thousands of problems spring forth— you can be kept busy for the rest of your life fighting individual causes, but the progress made will be ineffectual to alter the steady course progressively being made worse every year under a corporate-controlled U.S. public health regulatory system.

And even though there are very smart people out there, and some very conscientious public interest groups vigilantly working to keep corporate corruption in check, their effectiveness is limited because they have not organized under one large, umbrella group, with one major, and clearly focused purpose— to de-corrupt the present political and corporate-corrupted regulatory system, from which the society’s major health and safety problems ultimately all begin.

And until they do, and form the nucleus of such a group, and then solicit membership from the greater population, and start to organize on multiple fronts to apply pressure to force changes, the needed reforms are never going to come.

But the effort will be well worth it. Because once real and lasting reforms are enacted, that separate regulations from political and corporate influence, then hundreds of problems will begin to right themselves from a system that will finally begin to work for the benefit of the society, for which it was intended.

But for those that believe their only responsibility is going to the voting polls every four years, they had better think long and hard about the votes they cast in the next election. Because if, for example, they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton (if she runs), mainly because she’s a woman, just as many voted for Barak Obama, mainly because he’s African American— which is just as ignorant as not voting for someone because of their sex or race— they had better be aware that Hillary Clinton’s and Barak Obama’s policies, in regards to high-tech industries and public health regulations, are an exact carbon copy of Bill Clinton’s, who’s policies created some of the worst damages to the public’s health and the environment’s stability, and which continue to adversely impact the public and the environment to this day.

If the U.S. public really wants real reform— and is sick and tired of being abused by the system as it stands now— it is going to have to start voting for candidates based upon the candidates’ original ideas (if they have any) and actual plans for change (if they have any), and for those individuals they align themselves with (like not a Michael Taylor at the FDA)— instead of thinking of the political process as some kind of popularity contest, and every four years allow themselves to be swept up by the hype of personalities.

And if there is no one available that proposes real, needed changes, beyond “feel good political platitudes,” or surface social agendas that do nothing to address the fundamental problems needing reform, it is better not to vote than to vote for the least offensive option. Because not voting shows the government that it does not have the popular vote, and that gives any organization that organizes outside of Washington that much more clout to force through changes which do have the public’s support.

How critical is restricting the U.S. public health regulatory system?

For anyone entertaining even the most nominal notions of a sustainable economic future in America, that, at the same time, is not destroying the public’s health and the environment’s stability, you can kiss that notion goodbye if you don’t first restructure the current regulatory system, which has to set the foundation for any conceivable, sustainable, economy to exist.

And if think you can ignore this first critical step, and just continue to try and buy your way out of the accruing and mounting health problems facing the public, as the country has been doing for the past decades, you, along with Barak Obama, haven’t a clue about how health really works.

The only way to create a truly sustainable economy— and not a lip service one, as defined by Barak Obama, and just about every other current Democrat and Republican in Congress— is to start with a foundation of products that are as biologically safe as you can make them, before releasing them into the market. And at the same time, begin to remove and replace, and regulate for safety, those products that are currently on the market, that are not biologically safe.

And not to continue on the same criminally irresponsible path that both Republicans and Democrats have followed for the last several decades— under the excuse of, some form or another, free enterprise economic theory— which has been pushing continuously for deregulating hazardous industry products, when the government should have been doing the exact opposite.

For decades, the U.S. government has not bothered very much, or at all, about whether products are biologically safe— only if they can generate immediate profits for immediate rewards, while letting the healthcare system mop up the problems left in their wake.

—Or in promoting “energy-efficient” high-tech products, marketed to allegedly reduce global warming conditions, when in fact this has been used an excuse to coerce the public into buying newer, high-tech products whose energy costs to produce, to fix, or to replace when they prematurely break, are so high, and so beyond their conventional, non-high-tech originals, that they totally reject any claims of energy or economic efficiency.

—Or to encourage saturating the market with high-tech upgraded products every two or three years to artificially replace perfectly functioning higher-, or lower-, tech products, regardless if the public wants them or not, to artificially sustain an unsustainable, and continually rising, buying market that is progressively draining energy reserves, increasing pollution, and bankrupting the middle and lower economic classes.

And while there is nothing wrong with corporations becoming financially successful, there is something fundamentally wrong with corporations becoming financially successful by making the public sick, or by putting them in harm’s way, or by destroying the environment, or by putting people out of work, or by putting people into debilitating debt.

If the American public actually wants some kind of realistic, sustainable future— which is also not increasingly destroying its health and the environment that supports it— and rejects the corporate-directed future we are presently following, as just a “fait accompli” of how America must do business, the American public is going to have to take a long hard look at itself, and finally begin to admit its flaws.

That the country has grown older and matured, whether it likes to admit the concept or not, and can no longer act under the same concepts of unlimited growth and unlimited freedoms of choice to do whatever it wants to do anymore. Because it can no longer escape the inescapable— that the price tag that comes with that kind of juvenile thinking and irrational short term planning is its own accelerated demise.

Now, only if you can lay down a first priority foundation of creating biologically safe products, and build up your economy from this, and only this, truly sustainable foundation, can you begin to create a new, modern economic theory that takes into consideration the new, modern stakes at play. That biological safety has to be the first baseline priority to consider in any product development— economic or energy saving— and not the last, or as an afterthought after products are already released into the market and the environment.

Because only then can you have any chance of creating a truly sustainable economy, that is also a truly cost–beneficial one for the American society.

And no amount of political speechmaking, and no amount of public relations writers from the left or the right, and no amount of lawyers, and no amount of disingenuous scientists with impressive credentials from impressive universities can change that fact.

For another look at the regulatory problem, and how to potentially begin to change it, see also the article: “Antibiotic Misuse, Part 4: Fixing the corrupt U.S. regulatory system”

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