Posts tagged FEMA
Teachers Will Be Armed in Arkansas
Clarksville High School in Arkansas will be the first high school to utilize state laws that allow armed security guards in schools to arm teachers.
Training is underway now that will facilitate teachers carrying concealed weapons when classes resume.
David Hopkins, superintendent for Clarksville explained: “The plan we’ve been given in the past is, ‘Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best.’ That’s not a plan.”
Twenty teachers, including volunteers and other facility are training with a private security firm to turn them into licensed guards. Those in the program will receive 9-mm Walter PPS and holster; including $1,100 for a total of $50,000 the school in spending.
To make sure these participants are full trained, they will receive 53 hours which is 5 times the requirements for security guards in Arkansas.
Hopkins said : “They’re not gonna be in a uniform, and they’re not gonna be wagging their gun on their side. We’re going to be very discrete about it, but yet we’re going to be trained professionals, and we’re going to be able to provide security for our kids in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.”
Instead of hiring an independent security firm, Hopkins asserts : “We’re not tying our money up in a guard 24/7 that we won’t have to have unless something happens. We’ve got these people who are already hired and using them in other areas. Hopefully we’ll never have to use them as a security guard.”
Students will not know which teachers are armed and which are not to ensure that Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are able to assist at a moment’s notice.
CERT is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These are trained members of each community educated in “disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.”
Donna Morey, former president of the Arkansas Education Association (AEA) said: “We just think educators should be in the business of educating students, not carrying a weapon.”
Arkansas and 6 other states; such as Ohio, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Washington State have adopted measures to place armed guards in public schools.
School districts in Florida, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Alabama and New Jersey have hired armed police officers to patrol and protect their campuses based on Vice President Joe Biden’s national recommendations last January.
Like those other schools, Sidwell Friends School, where President Obama’s two daughters attend, have 11 security officers and is seeking to hire armed police officers to patrol the campus.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) School Resource Officer program offers government certified law enforcement officers to patrol campuses as part of a national initiative.
Sheriff Douglas Harp of Nobile County, Indiana suggested deputizing teachers in order to carry handguns in classrooms just after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Last January, a scheduled Code Red lockdown was performed at Cary-Grove High School in Illinois.
This drill was complete with the firing of blanks into a hallway to give the students the very real impression that they were being attacked. Officials claimed that this exercise would help teachers and students “recognize the sound and react quickly should an active gunman situation occur.”
According the school website: “The drill will begin with a public address announcement about the lockdown. After staff have secured their rooms, Cary police and administrators will sweep the building to ensure all students made it into secure locations and assess any potential issues that may become apparent from the practice. Following this, a second PA announcement will be made informing students and staff that gunfire will be simulated so that they might be able to recognize the sound and react quickly, should an active gunman situation occur.”
They went on to explain: “Following the drill, a discussion will ensue between the students and their classroom teacher. We will utilize this feedback as a building and police department to assess our security and make any necessary adjustments to our building plan. Our sole purpose for utilizing the blanks is to fully prepare our students and staff.”
Parents whose children attend the school were concerned that the simulated gunfire was going beyond necessities. One parent said: “If you need to run a drill, you run a drill. They run fire drills all the time, but they don’t run up and down the hallway with a flamethrower.”
Students were upset by the crassness of the drill. Some participants pointed out that not all guns sound the same when fired. And a substitute teacher suggested that there be proactive training on what do to in such a situation instead of the terrifying drill that was conducted by school officials.
Jeff Puma, spokesperson for the high school explained that the administration is working with the Cary Police Department who recommended that this drill take place. Puma said: “It was their recommendation that we do this in order to create the knowledge necessary to keep our students safe in an active crisis situation.”
Puma said that the police referred to the students as “sitting ducks” while in their classrooms should a shooter enter the building. The police intimated that the students remain in their classrooms for “safety reasons” rather than try to escape through a window or run out a door.
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By Blake Taylore
Liberty, freedom, and owning oneself are always good things. How humans lost the acknowledgement and community support of their unalienable right to exist on earth, and own themselves is probably lost in history. And yet, there were always people, throughout history, who understood their own value as individuals, and how they had a right to own their lives, while deciding their own destinies, making their own choices, and keeping what they made. They understood nature’s laws; the human right to own themselves, and keep the fruit of their labor. They understood unalienable rights to be a gift from nature that every human can claim just for being born.
Unfortunately most people, early on, were tricked out of this innate gift of owning themselves. Yet, throughout the ages enlightened, and freedom loving humans fought to bring this truth to light, and to have their unalienable rights be acknowledged, and supported by their communities. Some freedom lovers fought for unalienable rights with their pen, some within their legal structure, and some by the sword. They all fought to have human-made governments obey the laws of nature that governed their unalienable rights.
But it wasn’t until the birth of America, when humans, educated with book and instinctual knowledge of what was right and wrong, would stand together, using both the pen and the sword, to build a nation with a foundational base of nature’s laws. Ever since the Declaration of Independence, America has been a symbol of freedom that many in the rest of the world looked to as a beacon of hope for liberty in their lives. Unfortunately, here in America, once again, throughout the recent decades, those who have based their lives on greed and power, buried the principles of nature’s inalienable rights, enslaving all Americans, stripping us of our privacy, dignity, rights, and wealth. We now all jump as high as TSA, FEMA, the now militarized police, or any other federal agency tells us to, without a blink of the eye. America has let the world down.
A true statesman and humanitarian, Dr. Ron Paul, simply states the road we are on verses the road we should be on, explaining both consequences and rewards. I feel no individual in office can fill his mighty shoes, but that is not necessary, as the time is now to advance the cause of Freedom and Personal Liberty and the person to carry that cause is you and I, as individuals uniting to create a critical mass, so often mentioned by Bob Schultz and others. The revolution is now in our hands and we each will decide how best to promote the battle for Liberty!
Transcript Location: http://www.campaignforliberty.org/national-blog/transcript-of-farewell-address/
Much thanks to Gary Franchi and Matthew Hawes!
Congressman Paul’s final speech on the House floor before leaving Congress
Below is the transcript of Ron Paul’s farewell address to Congress:
Farewell to Congress
This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor. At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36 year period. My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.
It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.
To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.
The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start.
How Much Did I Accomplish?
In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without Congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history.
All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer. A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going. One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite. And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues. As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.
The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke. This has made compromising, just to agree to increase spending, inevitable since neither side has any intention of cutting spending.
The country and the Congress will remain divisive since there’s no “loot left to divvy up.”
Without this recognition the spenders in Washington will continue the march toward a fiscal cliff much bigger than the one anticipated this coming January.
I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits. If liberty is what we claim it is- the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace- it should be an easy sell. Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled.
The Department of Homeland Security is telling Border Patrol agents in Arizona to run away and hide if they encounter a shooter in a public place.
Agents took a FEMA administered course called “IS-907 – Active Shooter: What You Can Do,” a 45-minute computer course telling the employees to either evacuate, hide out, or take action only if they need to.
Border Patrol agents in Arizona are not happy. The members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council think it is downright insulting to tell armed law enforcement agents to do the exact same thing as civilians. Only as a last resort are the agents even allowed to throw objects at the shooter.
“We are then advised to ‘call law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival (presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered),” the council writes on its website. “Shooting incidents cited in the course are Columbine, the Giffords shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting.”
The site continues, “Telling law enforcement officers that in all instances they are to run away and hide from some thug while innocent victims are butchered is simply inexcusable and pathetic.”
By Steve Watson & Paul Joseph Watson
A leaked directive issued to the Red Cross indicates that the federal government has prepared plans to evacuate Chicago during the NATO summit.
An email sent to Red Cross volunteers in the Milwaukee area notes that the NATO summit in May could “create unrest or another national security incident.”
“The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago,” the email, which was leaked to CBS News, reads.
A spokesperson for the Red Cross Chapter told CBS “Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service”.
While the Secret Service has not commented on the news, officials at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication have denied having anything to do with the directive.
Two weeks ago residents were startled by urban warfare drills conducted in downtown Chicago on the authority of the OMEC. Huge black hawk helicopters were seen flying low and in between buildings for hours. It now appears that these exercises may be linked to the secret preparations.
In addition, earlier this week a number of Chicago area residents revealed that they have been asked to leave their homes in preparation for major rioting.
The residents received letters from management that read:
“We are STRONGLY recommending that all residents find places to stay during the conference from May 18 through May 21.”
“In the event of a riot or the potential of one near the building, all access doors will be locked including the garage door,” the letter continues. “For everyone’s safety, we will be instructing anyone in the building to stay in his or her unit.”
The fact that, “The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago,” dovetails with reports earlier this year that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) put out a request for contractors to construct temporary emergency camps inside the United States which can be ready for occupancy within a 72 hour time period and used to house emergency responders as well as “displaced citizens.”
The camps are primarily designed to house emergency responders, but will also be utilized to shelter “displaced citizens,” who will be “given the first opportunities for employment within the camp,” according to the solicitation. The camps will be able to service up to 2,000 people at one time.
Scenarios based around displaced citizens were also part of the 2010 Operation Vigilant Guard exercises in Chicago which featured Polish troops training with the Illinois National Guard.
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(PRISON PLANET) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has followed in the footsteps of the DHS in looking to hire a private contractor that will monitor news coverage of the agency’s activities on a 24/7 basis.
“FEMA is planning to award a 100% small business set-aside contract to a media monitoring firm that can monitor, archive and measure all local news in “major Nielsen markets,” all nationally broadcast news and all cable outlets for their news coverage of FEMA activities in the field across the U.S., reports Government Security News.
The program is similar in nature to a Department of Homeland Security monitoring effort that stoked controversy and a congressional hearing after it emerged that the DHS had hired an outside contractor, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, to monitor social media outlets along with a list of websites, on a “24/7/365 basis,” in order to uncover “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department.”
This included monitoring remarks by residents of Standish, Michigan in “newspaper comment talkbacks, local blogs, Twitter posts, and publicly available Facebook posts,” to gage the response to a plan to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to a local prison.
Although the FEMA contract does not specifically mention the monitoring of blogs and comments made by Internet users, it does call for the program to “Monitor the effectiveness of public affairs messaging,” which implies that feedback from citizens regarding FEMA’s activities will be part of the process.
The FEMA contract for the monitoring service explains that the agency is looking for information on “media statistics including the audience exposure and publicity value” for news items related to FEMA.
Concerned about its reputation in the eyes of American citizens who are growing increasingly wary of big government, this is not the first time FEMA has reached out to try and massage its image following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which “evoked some of the harshest criticism the agency has ever faced.”
As we exclusively reported in 2006, a story that was later confirmed by KSLA news agency the following year, FEMA has created ‘Clergy Response Teams’ trained by the federal government to “quell dissent” and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law.
The program recruited pastors and other religious representatives to become secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for the implementation of martial law, property and firearm seizures, mass vaccination programs and forced relocation.
Even in the absence of such emergencies, the federal government has already announced that it is actively monitoring social media for signs of “social unrest”, in a bid to pre-empt any sign of civil dislocation within the United States.
Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security yesterday stonewalled a Congressional hearing into the DHS’ monitoring of news and social media by refusing to give specific answers on what measures were being taken to prevent the program creating a “chilling effect” whereby people would be afraid to leave negative comments in online forums for fear of retribution.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, who obtained 300 documents via a FOIA requestdetailing how the DHS was tracking websites like the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Facebook and Twitter, submitted a statement to the Subcommittee Hearing arguing that “The DHS monitoring of social networks and media organizations is entirely without legal basis and threatens important free speech and expression rights.”
Watch a KSLA report on FEMA’s ‘Clergy Response Teams’ below.
By Tim Watts
Once again, another shocking story that threatens the personal privacy of US citizens has been kept from us by our politicians and the mainstream media.
Did you know that a bill, HR 658, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, has just passed both the House and the Senate that authorizes the use of 30,000 spy drones over America? Like the anti-Posse Comitatus NDAA legislation that passed in November, this bill was not widely reported by the mainstream media.
Do not feel bad for not knowing about this, because, similar to the anti-Constitutional NDAA legislation, they purposefully tried to hide this from the American public. The corporate controlled mainstream media was once again complicit and was an integral accessory in this crime against “We the People.” The corporate mainstream media failed us all miserably once again.
Think about the enormity of this for a second… 30-THOUSAND drones flying overhead surveilling the US. If you divide that by 50 states, that is 600 drones per state! Most states don’t have even have one-third of that in counties, so 600 drones, or more per state is a bit overwhelming. And considering that some states are very small, such as Rhode Island and Connecticut, it won’t take that many to spy on those diminutive territories, leaving far more drones to cover the larger states.
This is an outrage, plain and simple. If you’re not pissed off about this, you’ve got shit for brains. There is no good reason why we should have 24/7 surveillance of American citizens. Of course the advocates for creating this intensified police state will proffer that this is needed “to fight terrorism,” but let’s examine that issue for just a moment.
We’ve only had two successful acts of terrorism in the US, both happening well over ten years ago. It’s not like we’re under a constant monthly or weekly barrage of terrorism, at least not from foreign threats. We’ve been terrorized by our politicians and our media plenty, far more than we have from foreign entities. That’s an undeniable fact. Again, just look at the record.
We had the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and then shortly after we had the anthrax attacks. As we look at both of those events, there is an incredible amount of evidence that points to a false flag operation, state sponsored terrorism by rogue factions within our own government, blamed on a foreign entity. See the NewsFocus reports on the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax attacks.
These plots succeeded solely because of US officials and their dereliction of duty, yet our Constitution and “We the People’ are the ones who have been made to suffer. The highly flawed 9/11 Commission admitted as much.
Senator Mark Dayton excoriated the Commission panel over bald faced lies in their report that attempted to cover up the numerous failures of protocol on that fateful day. Our top officials failed to do their jobs on 9/11, yet no one was demoted in rank and no one was prosecuted for their egregious ineptitude. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld all failed to act appropriately, and in fact, acted suspiciously outside the norm of their designated duties.
As far as the anthrax attacks go, they were actually tracked to a US military facility, at Ft. Detrick, Maryland. That’s right, the anthrax used in the attacks was made in a US Army lab. Once that story became public, they shifted their blame from foreign terrorists to designated patsies within the US defense structure. The story died immediately.
So, with all of this in mind, we have only had TWO “alleged” successful terrorist attacks in this country in eleven years time, and both were highly suspicious events that have been attributed to false flag attacks from rogue officials with the US government, yet for some reason, we keep passing law after law that rescinds our Constitution and Bill of Rights, to set up a virtual police state in the US.
Does this honestly make any sense to you?
For what it’s worth, we are actually fomenting terrorism with our highly bogus, bst War On Terror. We have formally invaded and brutally attacked three countries without provocation, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, plus we’re also bombing Pakistan and killing scores of innocent civilians there as well.
This reporter’s take is, TPTB are trying to escalate terrorism to justify their fascist takeover of the United States. They’re literally trying to piss off foreign entities to pick a fight. Again, they’re attempting to justify their assault on “We the People,” to establish a police state lockdown in America. This isn’t about fighting terrorism folks, it’s about keeping us under their heel, under a 24/7 watch.
Look at what’s happened in just the last few months… Congress passed the NDAA Act behind our backs, authorizing military use on US soil against American citizens. At the same time, President Obama has enacted the SIP, the Strategic Implementation Plan against domestic “extremism.”
If you speak out against the government for criminal activity, or for egregiously attacking our Constitution, you can legally be considered an extremist and a terrorist. Bad news for you, because now you can be hauled away and imprisoned for life, without a trial or your Habeas Corpus rights.
FEMA also has drawn up a new Contingency of Government plan that incorporates offensive military definitions and criteria that can be used against “We the People.” Add to this the fact that the FBI has enacted new absurd terrorism identifiers that make us all suspects. (Having more than seven days worth of food in your house makes you a terrorist suspect. Please see my three-part series on the NDAA legislation.)
Homeland Security is monitoring the web for anti-government sentiment and signs of social unrest
A privacy advocacy group has swayed Congress to hold a hearing next week into the Department of Homeland Security’s practice of monitoring social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as media reports and organizations, including The Drudge Report.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently obtained close to 300 pages of documents, as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, detailing the federal agency’s “intelligence gathering” practices on the web.
Among the documents were guidelines from DHS instructing outside contractors to monitor the web for media reports and comments that “reflect adversely” on the agency or the federal government.
As Reuters reported last month, in early 2010 contractors were asked to spend 24 hours monitoring news media coverage on popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks, as well as news sites including the Huffington Post and The Drudge Report.
The contractors were required to provide the DHS with feedback on any potential “threats and hazards”, as well as “any media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government and the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) ability to prevent, protect and respond, to recovery efforts or activities related to any crisis or events which impact National Planning Scenarios.”
The documents also state that the program should highlight “both positive and negative reports on FEMA, C.I.A., C.B.P., ICE, etc., as well as organizations outside of D.H.S.”
The documents obtained by EPIC indicate that following the exercise, a procurement official awarded an $11.3 million contract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in order to carry out the monitoring on a “24/7/365 basis”.
EPIC director Ginger McCall notes that monitoring what people are saying about government policies goes too far and has a chilling effect on free speech.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of political dissent has no legal basis and is contrary to core First Amendment principles,” she said.
“The language in the documents makes it quite clear that they are looking for media reports that are critical of the agency and the U.S. government more broadly,” said McCall. “This is entirely outside of the bounds of the agency’s statutory duties.”
DHS officials have admitted that monitoring of social networks for negative opinion was undertaken by the agency, but claim that the operation was a one off test and was quickly dropped as it did not meet “operational requirements or privacy standards,” which “expressly prohibit reporting on individuals’ First Amendment activities.”
EPIC argues otherwise and has presented evidence that suggests the practice is being held up by the DHS an an example that should be emulated.
“They are completely out of bounds here,” McCall said. “The idea that the government is constantly peering over your shoulder and listening to what you are saying creates a very chilling effect to legitimate dissent.
The Congressional hearing, DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy, will be held Thursday February 16th.
However, it is already apparent where the House subcommittee for intelligence and counter-terrorism stands on the matter. As reported by Reuters, the top two members of the subcommittee, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), wrote to DHS Intelligence Chief Caryn Wagner last month, pressing her to more carefully monitor users’ posts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to help detect “current or emerging threats.”
As we have also previously reported, The DHS has openly announced that it is actively monitoring social media for signs of “social unrest”, in a bid to pre-empt any sign of social dislocation within the United States.
In a debate hosted on MSNBC last night, Ron Paul was singled out repeatedly for criticism by NBC anchor Brian Williams for a number of libertarian views of the proper role of government in society. At times, Williams’ objections just seemed petulant – as if TSA agents were the first line of defense against terror, or as if FEMA, which notoriously dropped the ball just a few years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina, could do no wrong. This was not an exception but the rule for Williams’ questioning throughout the evening, so it’s not as if Paul had it any better than the others.
But there’s one area in particular where his line of questioning of Paul, the only physician on the stage, struck me as ignorant and wrongheaded: Williams’ argument on the loving, protecting arms of government around your medicine. Here’s the transcript of the exchange (emphasis mine), and note that Williams asks for 30 more seconds for a “devil’s advocate” response – as if he is one of the candidates debating instead of a neutral moderator:
WILLIAMS: Over to Congressman Paul, you’re known as the absolutist in the bunch, someone who has consistently opposed federal government from having any role — and I think by your definition — that isn’t explicitly laid out in the Constitution. So this makes people curious: Is there a line with you? Where do you draw it? Does this include things like making cars safe, making medicine safe, air traffic control controlling the jets above our heads?
PAUL: I think in theory, if you understood the free market in a free society, you don’t need government to do that. We live in a society where we have been adapted to this, and you can’t just drop it all at once, but you can transition away from it. On regulations, no, I don’t believe in any of these federal regulations, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in regulations. The regulation of the marketplace takes care of it. Just think if we had the regulations on the market that dealt with the bankruptcies? They’d have had to go bankrupt. We wouldn’t have been able to bail out the big banks and the big corporations and dump onto poor people. So the market would dictate it. You can’t commit fraud. If you need detailed regulations, you can do it at the state level. But the federal government is not authorized to nitpick every little transaction. The way they use the interstate commerce clause is outrageous, as far as I’m concerned.
WILLIAMS: Well, 30 seconds more for devil’s advocate here, because would you then put it on the drug companies to say, “No, we’re bringing this to market, trust us, it’s a fantastic drug”? All the pilots in the sky, to add to their responsibilities, their own air traffic control, in an organic way?
PAUL: What I said is, theoretically, you could — it could be privatized. But who ends up doing the regulations on the drugs? They do as much harm as good. They don’t take good care of us. Who gets — who gets to write the regulations? The bureaucrats write the regulations, but who writes the laws? The lobbyists have control, so lobbyists from the drug industry has control of writing the regulations, so you turn it over to the bureaucracy. But you would have private institutions that could become credible. And, I mean, do we need the federal government to tell us whether we buy a safe car? I say the consumers of America are smart enough to decide what kind of car they can buy and whether it’s safe or not, and they don’t need the federal government hounding them and putting so much regulations on that our car industry has gone overseas.
In this line of argument, it’s stunning how ignorant Williams is of the bureaucratic reality we face with drug policy decisions within the Food and Drug Administration. The exorbitant cost of research and development for new drugs is driven largely by the demands of the FDA, which requires rafts of testing and retesting. These policies delay lifesaving treatments for Americans who desperately want them, often for reasons and side effects which threaten only a miniscule portion of the population. As Robert Goldberg pointed out in a recent piece:
Though new and faster methods to determine a technology’s safety and effectiveness exist, Obama’s FDA still demands evidence collected with science and statistical methods developed in the 19th century. To be sure, in the last two years new medicines for AIDS, cancer, lupus and hepatitis have been developed.
Yet, these products should have been available sooner if not for FDA nitpicking. And now that they are finally approved, patients are finding it next to impossible to access several new drugs and genetic tests that would transform the quality of life and extend survival for such illnesses as lupus, prostate cancer, and organ transplantation.
Provenge, the first cancer vaccine, stalled at the FDA for years. Once approved, it faced 18 months of additional delay while the Obama administration figured out whether to pay for it. The gauntlet cancer patients face with Provenge is being extended to everyone waiting for a medical breakthrough under Obamacare. Before a medical innovation can be used or paid for, the government will now demand additional research demonstrating that a new product will be more effective and cheaper than existing technologies. Since most new products come from small start-ups with limited cash, such a requirement means life-saving innovations will not be available at all.
This is why Heartland supports the Free to Choose Medicine project, which will allow for more drugs to be available, faster, and at lower cost. This model would deploy consumer choice and empower those who in consultation with their doctor decide to bypass the old FDA model.
Free to Choose Medicine would employ a dual track: on one track, a newly introduced drug goes through the lengthy clinical trials and testing necessary to achieve the FDA’s endorsement. But instead of that being the only option, an alternative would be created: on this track, patients could with their doctor’s counsel choose to contract with drug developers for access to the drug prior to approval.
The drug will need to have passed the midpoint of Phase II testing, so we’d already have knowledge to make an informed decision on the risk and effectiveness of it. The upshot: patients, many of whom are in desperate need of new treatments, could gain quicker access to new drugs by a pace measured in years, not months. For those facing life threatening illnesses and pain, this would eliminate the bureaucratic barriers to them receiving the treatment they want and need. No one should face death because bureaucracy moves too slowly. And in advancing the argument that government is a problem, not a solution, for medicine, Paul is entirely right.