Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tales of a Phony Capitalist Part I: Rick Perry's Gardasil Problem (Updated)

Update: Surprisingly, Erick Erickson agrees with me on this one. Then again, he wrote about the whole sordid affair back when it actually happened, so he doesn't have a lot of wiggle room. This from his article entitled "Let's Use Teenage Girls As Lab Rats For A Monopoly":
But I don’t think it is sound public policy to be forcing the profit stream of a pharmaceutical company onto an unwilling public when the company has a monopoly on the drug and seems clearly to be behind the efforts to get these laws passed.

In the last few days since Rick Perry announced for president, much has been made of his ill-fated attempt to force the Gardasil vaccine on every 6th grade girl in Texas (he backed down after public opinion turned against him). Gardasil prevents two major strains of HPV, an STD which often causes cervical cancer. Health aficionados are concerned that the vaccine was relatively new and untested. Parents are concerned that this might have legitimized sexual promiscuity among teens. Proponents of small government are concerned about the "individual mandate" that this would have forced upon Texans.

None of that matters to most Americans. Perry quickly saw the light and backed down. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. Harm and foul. Michelle Malkin nails the true problem, albeit briefly:

Cronyism. Most noxious of all, Perry wraps his big government health mandate in the “pro-life” mantle. But the do-gooder theater is a distraction from the business-as-usual back-scratching and astro-turfing that are Obama hallmarks. Perry’s former chief of staff Mike Toomey is a top Merck lobbyist. Toomey’s mother-in-law headed a Merck-funded front group pushing vaccination mandates. Merck’s political action committee pitched in $6,000 to Perry’s re-election campaign in 2007 and Merck discussed the vaccine with Perry staff on the day they donated.
As with all good political scandals, there is no absolute proof. But in this case, it's pretty easy to read between the lines. Did Rick Perry really want every 6th grade girl in Texas to receive this vaccine because he was concerned about women's health, or was he simply greasing the skids for Merck to rake in huge profits selling their government-mandated vaccine to every schoolgirl in the state? The very Merck which later inflated his campaign coffers? If the latter, this puts Perry's prolific fund raising in an entirely different light. It appears that Perry dabbled in the exact same type of cronyism that Obama used to get his health care bill past the health insurance companies. Something that should make any true believer in limited government think twice about jumping on the slush fund powered Rick Perry bandwagon.

And therein lies the difference between Sarah Palin and Rick Perry. Palin has spent her career fighting corruption by taking on the entrenched, moneyed interests, while Perry has spent his kowtowing to their demands. If Rick Perry should win the nomination, our country is truly lost.

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