Elections have consequences

by Paul William Tenny

I can't be any more blunt than that. Bush had his way with the various federal agencies during his reign that left many of them purposefully ineffective and at best, dysfunctional. It shouldn't be any surprise to you that given the choice of looking out for the health and safety of the public, and protecting a corporations bottom line, Republicans will throw you under the bus without even being asked to.

Please, bare with me while I go on for a moment before I get to the point in question (an FDA action related to misinformation in commercials.)
The Food and Drug Administration was gutted under Bush and if memory serves, at one time, had as few as 1/3rd the number of inspectors as the agency did under President Clinton. Lead in toys, food with industrial plastics from China, and now peanuts contaminated with salmonella -- a bacteria most often found in feces.

Did I mention I was writing about commercials and truth in advertising? Poop should have given you a clue.

Since elections have consequences, one of them under a Democratic President tends to be stronger regulation and safety enforcement. The FBI and FDA are criminally investigating the peanut company and the owner will probably be serving time in prison down the road. Regulations and internal agency policies will be studied and updated if necessary, more inspectors will be hired, and things will hopefully get better.

Along that front, the FDA took the unusual step of forcing pharmaceutical giant Bayer to spend tens of millions of dollars on commercials correcting a fair bit of misinformation they've been getting away with under the previous administration.

Apparently the contraceptive market wasn't big enough for Bayer, so the company started claiming that Yaz also had wonder powers to cure acne and prevent premenstrual syndrome in an attempt to expand its customer base. (Source)

I've never understood why companies are allowed to so blatantly lie to the public about their products with no repercussions, or why we so easily dismiss and accept them as a legitimate way to sell their products. All commercials feature actors that don't use, know or care about the products they are selling. They are 30-seconds of pure fiction where people are paid to lie to us in the hope that we'll buy their junk.

That kind of propaganda when sold by the government tends to be viewed as highly immoral and somewhat illegal, but our culture while constantly bitching about having commercials interrupt our shows, spend a day at least once a year watching and celebrating them as a form of art (Super Bowl.)

While I'm thankful that the FDA is finally doing its job, I'm not sure I see the point in drawing the that particular line in the sand. Isn't it absurd to only go after a company for lying a little bit too much, but not address the inherent dishonesty in commercial advertising?
in Television


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