Even without a daily COVID taskforce briefing, we’re not starving for incompetent discourse on Easter weekend. First Trump attacks the MSM hobbyhorse yet again with the usual logical fallacy about source integrity. Then Bret Stephens tries to again fill an intellectual vacuum defined by IMPOTUS*’s discourse inferno.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1249045314994081795 https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1249046469618864131

There’s just so much straw in Stephens’s attack on bureaucracy as he tries to suggest that the bogeyman is agencies rather than the agency of the executive branch, where implementing rather than invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) would have addressed the chaos still roiling the COVID-19 response. The culprit, rather than where the buck stops, is big government because it shouldn’t have been in the way of… wait for it… public health.

 From 2007 to 2019, the total number of employees in the Food and Drug Administration increased by nearly 80 percent to more than 17,000 employees, according to a Cato Institute report. That includes nearly 500 additional workers to review the safety of medical devices.

Has it helped? In March, Julia Ioffe wrote a must-read account in GQ of the F.D.A.’s almost-comical mishandling of an effort to roll out coronavirus test kits. First the F.D.A. approved a flawed test. Then they stymied an effective test by requiring its developer to submit his request not only electronically but also mailed in paper and via thumb drive. Then the F.D.A. demanded that the developer see if his test worked against other coronaviruses. Then the F.D.A. shut down a testing regime developed by the Seattle Flu Study because it lacked the correct licensing requirements.

Congress also had to overturn F.D.A. regulations in order to permit hospitals to purchase N95 masks previously approved only for industrial use. The country may need billions of such masks now. But as Reason magazine reported last month, federal regulators have told one would-be manufacturer that certification and approval might take between 45 and 90 days.
And this is government operating in an emergency. On Tuesday, New York City’s Health Department sent a stern letter to health providers, warning that there are no approved blood tests for use at point-of-care facilities to check for coronavirus antibodies, and that use of such tests “may result in regulatory action.” Everyone knows tests are far from perfect. But they are urgently needed to track the disease and could have been widely available in the U.S. weeks ago. Approval is now expected in a few days, which should at least raise a question about the point of delay.

Does all of this mean that we would have been better off without any government regulation at all? Obviously not. But it says something that among the most important steps taken in recent months to advance public safety has been to waive regulations enacted in the name of public safety. The effectiveness of government is rarely correlated to its size. In this crisis, the correlation has often been inverse.


History continues to address the 70-day delay/denial/dysfunction of the Trump White House, as the facts pile up.

Because it’s always somebody else outside the bounds of accountability.

Apparently the Trumpian approach has other aficionados.

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