Originally published December 28 2010
With food safety bill, U.S. government will spend nearly $1 million per person to prevent food-borne illness deaths
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
(NaturalNews) The recently-passed Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed in order to prevent food-borne illness deaths in the USA, will cost $1.4 billion over the first five years. But nobody thinks about the economics of the issue. How many people are we going to save by spending this $1.4 billion, even assuming it works?
To answer that question, let's look at the food illness fatality figures offered by the CDC:
• Out of the 5,000 food-borne illness deaths each year in the United States, only 1,809 are "attributable to foodborne transmission" according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol5no5/mead.h...).
• E.coli, which is often quoted in the big scare stories about food safety, only kills 78 people a year through food-borne transmission (52 plus 26, from the CDC's chart). Interestingly, according to the CDC's own numbers (from 1998), more people are killed from being struck by lightning each year than from e.coli.
• Listeria kills 499 people and Salmonella kills 553 people. But salmonella poisoning is easily acquired from store-bought chickens, of which two-thirds are contaminated with salmonella every day! Since the food safety bill doesn't even address chickens, cows or other animals because those are handled by the USDA, this salmonella fatality figure probably won't be reduced at all. (Salmonella comes largely from animals: Fowl, reptiles, etc.)
So how many people will the Food Safety Modernization Act actually impact? It's primarily going to address e.coli poisoning and Listeria contamination. So we're talking about a grand total of 78 + 499 people each year, or 577 people.
By the way, for comparison, consider the fact that 300 people die in the U.S. each year from penicillin allergies. Another 14,500 people die each year from taking NSAID painkiller medications. Nearly three quarter of a million people are killed by conventional medicine (drug deaths, surgical mistakes, iatrogenic deaths, etc, source: Death By Medicine). Congress does nothing to address these causes of death, of course. The focus is on the few hundred people who die each year from the common causes of food-borne illness.
So in order to prevent the deaths of 577 people each year for five years, the U.S. Congress is going to spend $1.4 billion!
But that's overly optimistic, it turns out. Because no food safety program is 100 percent effective in the first place.
Let's share a wild fantasy and imagine that the Food Safety Modernization Act might be a huge success and prevent 50 percent of those 577 deaths. That's a wild stretch, of course, especially since the bill doesn't even cover cattle, hogs and poultry, and that's where e.coli originates from in the first place.
But just for fun, let's assume a 50% reduction in food-borne illness deaths. That means, if you do the math on this, that spending $1.4 billion over five years would prevent the deaths of 1,443 people from food-borne illnesses. That's almost $1 million per person of taxpayer dollars being spent by the federal government for each food safety death prevented.
A million dollars per person. Is this really the best use of taxpayer money? It would seem that if you're going to spend this money in order to save lives, there's a way to save a hundred times as many lives with the same dollars...
This $1.4 billion, by the way, would be used to fund a huge expansion of the FDA which would unleash a whole new army of FDA agents who run around the country auditing farms and greenhouse operations, then arresting those who don't have their paperwork in order. It's like a whole new TSA, except their agents aren't confined to airports. They come to you and search your farm, your greenhouse or even your backyard garden operation (no, small farms are not automatically exempted from the food safety bill as was claimed by those who supported it).
Congress once again fails to understand economicsThis food safety bill was yet another "feel good" bill that nearly everyone in Congress supported. Who wouldn't want to be on the record voting for "food safety?"
But as usual, Congress forgets that it is spending other peoples' money. When you're spending the taxpayers' money, cost doesn't really matter, especially to those members of Congress who habitually think bigger government is the answer to every problem.
The real question, though, is the following: Is there a better way to spend $1.4 billion to save Americans' lives?
The answer is: absolutely!
For example, if you really want to save lives at a very low cost, all you need to do is hand out free vitamin D supplements to the population. Vitamin D3 supplements could easily be purchased for $10 for a 30-day supply (in volume). So a one-year supply of vitamin D would only cost $120. For $1.4 billion, you could provide a one-year supply of vitamin D for 11.6 million people, or nearly four percent of the U.S. population.
Because vitamin D prevents 77 percent of all cancers (http://www.naturalnews.com/021892.html), you could slash the rate of cancer fatalities during that year for nearly 4 percent of the U.S. population! At the same time, because vitamin D boosts immune function and provides greatly improved immunity, you would also sharply reduce deaths from winter colds and flu (which the CDC claims kill 30,000 people a year).
Vitamin D also helps prevent heart disease, obesity, kidney disorders and even psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, meaning that with this one nutrient, you could slash the rates of several of the most devastating and costly diseases known to modern medicine.
Statistically speaking, you would save far more than 577 lives per year and at the same time, you would greatly reduce hospitalization costs and expenditures to the point where the $1.4 billion spent on these vitamin D supplements is actually paid back through the savings in Medicare / Medicaid expenditures.
In fact, the payback on a vitamin D investment by the government for the population might be more like ten to one: For every $100 spent on vitamin D supplements, $1,000 would likely be saved in medical costs. This is a rough estimate, but you get the idea: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.
Instead of money going out the door, a vitamin D program would actually reduce overall government (and state) spending on sick-care management.
So if you really want to save lives and money at the same time, instead of handing another billion dollars to the FDA which will only use it against the people, it would make a lot more economic sense to invest that money in a low-cost, extremely safe and highly effective nutritional supplement that could sharply reduce cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and even mental disorders.
Why can't Congress understand economics and make rational decisions about smarter ways to spend money? The answer, of course, is because it's not their money. This is why governments that spend taxpayer dollars always end up betraying the taxpayers. If it's not their money, there's never any real incentive to spend it wisely.
Economics 101Congress has never really had a firm grasp on the fundamentals of economics, by the way. In spending your money, Congress acts with extreme arrogance, insisting that Big Government can solve your problems by spending more money -- any amount of money -- to keep you safe, secure and healthy. And they're going to force you into a sick-care system, have FDA agents auditing your backyard farms, and outlaw raw milk just to make sure you stay "healthy" in the way Congress wants you to (which really means keeping you sick, of course).
But as long as they're spending YOUR money, who's counting? It doesn't come out of the pockets of Congressional members, does it? They get paid the same whether they waste your money or not, so the motivation is to blow as much public money as necessary for them to take credit for passing new "safety measures" that sound good on paper but really represent an economic disaster.
It also brings up the question: How much is a human life worth when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars? Is it acceptable for the government to confiscate, for example, $1 million from the taxpayers to save the life of one person? If you answer "yes," then how about $10 million per life saved? How about $1 billion?
At what point do expenditures that are said to "protect lives" become economically unsustainable to the rest of the nation?
And if spending money is the way to protect people, then why not have the government hire a "personal shopping and food preparation coach" for each and every person in America who can do all their shopping and food washing to make sure they don't get e.coli poisoning? That would certainly save lives, too. As Big Government supporters might also add, it would "create jobs!" Sure it would, but government jobs don't count toward the economy -- they take away from the earnings of everyone else because they are funded with the confiscated tax dollars of the rest of the people who are actually working for a living!
Even government workers who earn a paycheck see their own paychecks reduced by the government to take out federal taxes that are used to hire yet more government workers somewhere else!
Risks are inherent in the worldIn all this, there's also the point that your safety is not guaranteed in our world. Everything you do has some sort of risk associated with it, and most people do very little to avoid risks in the first place. People drive drunk. They fail to wear vehicle seatbelts. They go skiing and break their legs. They smoke cigarettes, they eat Happy Meals, they drink diet soda and they coat their bodies with toxic cosmetics and personal care products on a daily basis.
The average American bathes themselves in over 200 synthetic chemicals before they even leave the house in the morning! They don't even value their own lives enough to live a safe, healthy lifestyle to begin with.
Real food safety is completely ignored by the federal governmentEven in the grocery store, there are all sorts of additional threats to your safety that this food bill doesn't cover. The food bill didn't say anything about the aspartame in diet soda and how it may contribute to brain cancer. It didn't mention the deadly ingredient sodium nitrite found in hot dogs and how it aggressively promotes cancer.
It also didn't cover the startling fact that the vast majority of all store-bought chickens are contaminated with salmonella right from the moment you buy them (http://www.naturalnews.com/028661_chickens_s...). Meat, you see, isn't covered under this food safety bill. And that's especially odd given that e.coli doesn't grow in plants -- it only grows in the guts of animals. It seems Congress failed to understand that simple biological point. They think e.coli magically appears in batches of spinach.
In fact, the grotesque and dangerous practices of the entire meat industry were completely ignored in the Food Safety Modernization Act. Instead, all the food safety problems are being blamed on plants. This means that $1.4 billion spent on food safety is actually going in the wrong direction! Instead of auditing greenhouses and small farms, the FDA food police should be going after the outrageously dangerous and inhumane practices of the factory animal operations such as cattle feedlots. That's where the food poisoning originates.
But, oh yeah, I forgot: The FDA doesn't cover that. It's the jurisdiction of the USDA. So why isn't Congress giving money to the USDA to inspect factory feedlot operations?
Because the corporations that run those feedlots have better lobbyists, of course. So Congress simply decided to throw the money at the FDA -- after all, the word "food" is in the agency's name -- and then take credit for "improving food safety" in the USA.
Keeping up appearancesWhen you're a member of Congress, you see, what's far more important than actually solving problems is to appear to solve problems. If wasting another few billion dollars gives you the ability to claim, during the next election, that you "voted for food safety," then that sounds great with voters. It might get you reelected so you can spend another two years wasting the taxpayers' money on even more Big Government programs.
That's the business of Congress, after all: Stay in office and keep claiming authority over the lives of the American people. And with the Food Safety Modernization Act, they now want to control what you grow, even as they do virtually nothing to improve the actual safety of the food you eat.
The truth of this whole scam is almost too much to swallow. In a nation where 100,000+ Americans are killed each year by FDA-approved medications, the government is going to spend $1.4 billion to try to prevent 1,443 deaths from food-borne illness while doing absolutely nothing to prevent pharmaceutical deaths.
No wonder the American people have lost faith in Big Government. Every time you take a rational look at what the government is doing, it all resembles a circus of morons competing to see who can take credit for coming up with the biggest lie that the American people will actually believe. And year after year, they somehow manage to out-do each other.
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