In the hopes of not typecasting myself as simply an attacker of the Bush administration, I think it is time to break ground on a new topic: vitamins and supplements. Yes, while an immoral war rages miles away from home and the administration scurries around trying to stop the bleeding at home, I think it is time to discuss an issue that will probably fly underneath the radar screen of most observers.
On January 20th, 1985, the Dan Marino-led Miami Dolphins were defeated soundly in Super Bowl XIX by the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana. While I can not remember the exact score, I can remember that I was sick with the flu. That was nineteen years ago and is not too big of a deal in and of itself. What I do believe is somewhat interesting, is that I have not had the flu since. There is but one reason for this in my opinion: vitamin C. I am not talking about a couple hundred milligrams that come as part of a multi-vitamin. I am talking about thousands of milligrams per day.
The merits of vitamin C have been well known for some time. In 1747, Scottish naval surgeon James Lind discovered that a nutrient (now known to be vitamin C) in citrus foods prevented scurvy. It was rediscovered by Norwegians, A. Hoist and T. Froelich in 1912. Vitamin C was the first vitamin to be artificially synthesized in 1935. A process invented by Dr. Tadeusz Reichstein, of the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich. The most recent studies have shown that it may fend off everything from Alzheimer's to stress. In short, there is credible evidence to support my claim that I have not been sick in nearly 20 years due to my taking high doses of vitamin C. Additional proof of the healing powers of vitamin C was shown to me when a former neighbor of mine told me that as a young boy, (prior to the days of polio vaccines), he was treated with vitamin C at Duke University while suffering from the disease. He was completely cured. A good source of information on the topic of vitamins and supplements is MaryClinic.com. Dr. Charles C. Mary, himself a colon cancer survivor based only on the intravenous taking of vitamin C, heads this New Orleans based clinic which has become a haven for those who have been failed (or fooled) by traditional medicine.
While discussing the value of vitamins and supplements is probably an issue only a handful of LRC readers might wish to discuss, the pending legislation that would call for stricter monitoring of the industry should be important to freedom lovers who are tired of governmental interference. Currently, I pay about $5 online for 100 capsules of 1000 mg vitamin C. In addition, I take several other supplements that give my knees and back much more relief than would ibuprofen. These additional supplements are a bit more expensive, so I spend about $30 a month on vitamins and supplements. Senate Bill 722 seeks to end that, calling for more FDA oversight, and consequently an estimated increase of 70% to consumers of these products. This oversight is necessary in the eyes of some lawmakers because apparently, some people who use the Internet and shop at health food stores can not read. On the bottle of every supplement made, packed, and shipped, read words similar to this: "WARNING: This product has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. Consumers are cautioned to read all labels and follow all directions. You should always consult with your physician before using this or any such products." In other words, "Use at your own risk." Unfortunately, we now live in a time in which individuals can not make decisions for themselves. We are living in a time in which seemingly normal adults are not considered competent enough to discern whether a little bit of St. John's Wort might be good for them. It is incredible that there are some who think that "pro choice" should mean the ability to abort an unborn child at any time, but not the ability to choose what vitamins to take. It should not come as any surprise that this bill was co-sponsored by none other than Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, and Charles Schumer after having been sponsored by Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin.
Recent data show that 16 deaths were attributed to dietary supplements in 2002. The American Medical Association has reported that approximately 106,000 deaths a year can be attributed to prescription drugs while thousands more have been caused by over the counter drugs. It seems that America, instead of being called the "Land of the Free," is now the "Land of the Over Reaction," for just like 9-11 brought knee-jerk reactions from those in Washington, so did the deaths that were only partially linked to ephedra. Apparently, that is what those in Washington are sent there to do: ensure that no one dies of ephedra, or no student gets left behind, or perhaps no small business owner gets ahead.
Currently, the bill is in committee. While I am no parliamentarian, I realize that this bill becomes an easy insert into all manner of other legislation. For example, President Bush ran into problems when he tried to hammer home Patriot Act II. Instead of passing the entire bill, bits of it have been incorporated into other similar pieces of legislation like H.R. 3037, "The Antiterrorism Tools Enhancement Act of 2003"; H.R. 3040 and S. 1606, "The Pretrial Detention and Lifetime Supervision of Terrorists Acts of 2003"; and H.R. 2934 and S. 1604, the "Terrorist Penalties Enhancement Act of 2003." With Senate Bill 722, it is an easy fit into the Agricultural Appropriations Bill. The smokescreen of choice for all of this legislation is "safety," but the true intention is the power grab that typifies Washington.
While it is always entertaining to discuss when it was that the American politician lost his grasp of the Constitution, I think some attention needs to be paid to what it is that they are called by the media. I can remember a time in which politicians were called just that: politicians. It seems that over night, they became "law makers," as though they produce corvettes, curtains, or cocktails. Evidently, the word politician had far too many negative overtones. Now that the much more benign label of law maker is being used, it seems the goal of every congressman is to pass legislation. It is not important whether the legislation deals with spam or supplements. Sadly, the politicians only have the power because "we the sheeple" have given it to them.
If you are interested in combating this bit of legislation, you can go to Puritan.com to get more information. There is a form letter that you can tweak to your liking and send to your representative or senator.
May 18, 2004
John Schroder [send him mail] is a graduate of the Naval Academy and a former Marine infantry officer. Having resigned his commission, he is to begin doctoral work in political science this fall at Louisiana State.