I thought of this little example to show that good government is a gamble.
Currently, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is a great example of horrible government. They get more than half of their operating budget from drug companies that are seeking FDA approval. Essentially everything people worry about without regulation of drug companies has happened under the FDA, because all the companies have to do is pay to play. There are plenty of dangerous drugs approved, and countless safe alternatives nixed, or simply not reviewed by the FDA. Big pharmaceuticals win by paying off the government, the little guy loses by having unsafe drugs on the market, or not getting their safe drug approved.
Commission E is Germany’s version of the FDA. They have reviewed hundreds of natural herbs to determine their effectiveness against diseases and ailments, and recommend when to use the herbs, in what way, and how much to use. This does not make Commission E money, they do it because that is their task as a government agency.
These are two government agencies, from two different governments. The FDA has become corrupt, wasteful, and harmful to the general public of the USA, while Commission E appears to be relatively neutral, and has helped people by suggesting natural cures. Neither one of them has much to worry about in the way of consequences for being wrong. Neither organization must meet the demands of the consumer. Each simply rely on the political process to make them work. Sometimes this proves affective, sometimes it proves disastrous.
But notice my example of good government comes from Germany. If you will recall, just 70 years ago the German government had started a global war, was wreaking havoc across Europe and Africa, was systematically murdering millions of Jews and Gypsies, and would leave its dark mark on the world for at very least, decades to come. Government can help people by recommending the proper herbs to eat and use in natural healing. It can also carry out genocides. But it is going to take a hell of a lot of cured sick people to make up for the tens of millions of lives ruined by the not-so-distant-past German government.
It is not impossible for government to do something good, but the odds are against it. And the good it does seldomly outweighs the bad it does.
At least in the private sector a business must attract customers and investors; corruption is unattractive. And guess what, much of what was publicized by Commission E was research already done in the private sector.
The difference between the depths to which a government can go, versus a business, is simply that a government can monopolize and kill competition with force. Without government for hire, businesses cannot do the same. If they care about their bottom line, engaging in mafia style tactics will be too costly on a scale as large as government does it. Even if they did try to bully their way to the top, the company’s reputation would suffer too much (and profits slip too much) to be able to establish monopoly control over the media, law enforce, justice system, and consumers. The only reason they can do so now is by using the budget of the United States government (almost $4 trillion each year) to do the policing, spew the propaganda, prosecute the enemies, “lose” the criminal file on the cronies, deregulate their business, over regulate their competitors, or force the public to buy a product.
And without a single government agency to pay off for approval (the FDA), it would be difficult for a company to buy good reviews from the hundreds of competing online and in print publications, organizations, and non-profits who evaluate drugs, and publish findings on healing remedies. The market for information would bring to light the risks of certain drugs, and turn profit from selling information on positive natural alternatives. Competition among these groups would keep the information reliable, and advertisers would keep the information cheap.
The point is that government can do good things, but does such bad things that it is impossible to outweigh them with the good. And even so, it is a gamble whether they will do anything good at all. If a business does something bad, you are not forced to give them your money anyway.