Archive for July 20th, 2011

Regulation is a Power Struggle, not a Morality Play

I just wrote BoardAd that “Provigil is officially only a narcolepsy pill. Ritalin is the ADD pill, and it has been a Schedule 2, meaning it is addictive, for forty years. But Provigil is more closely regulated because it works too well.”

If this had been written to him by anybody but me, he would naturally have asked if I didn’t need some medication myself. But this is simply how the world works.

Regulation of drugs or guns or anything else, in the real world, is a power struggle.

It is true that the average doctor or brass hat policeman is fully and honestly convinced that his ideas about controlling guns or drugs is entirely objective. He has, after all, devoted his life to the public good.

Which is why you have them as specialists in things like law enforcement and medicine, but you pay people like me to deal with reality.

As committee staff, I was perfectly aware that both sides on each issue believed down to the toes of their shoes that they were the good guys.

So while others start with the assumption that a person who is expert in a field has a more objective opinion, I start with the reality that the last person who is objective on any subject is the person who has devoted his life to it.

No one wants to hear this.

When people look at a judge their first thought is that he is a successful practitioner of law and is an expert, one who has given up a lucrative law practice which a lawyer of his abilities could probably command,  in order to devote himself to the Law.

This is a very comforting idea. None of us want to be wheeled into the Emergency Room while having it in mind that the doctors are biased in what they do. If we are on trial, none of us wants to think that the judge has anything but Justice on his mind.

No one wants to pay a crippling fortune for tuition with the idea that the expensive professor has exactly the same mind set every other professor has.

After all, these are the areas where we do NOT understand what is going on. We want desperately to believe that when it comes to stuff we cannot understand, the people who do understand are no different from us, except for their higher knowledge on the subject.

It’s a scary world if that is not true.

But if you realize that each profession has a set of steel hard prejudices, you can at least predict what they are for.

Provigil gives energy, the way Ritalin does. It makes people feel energetic and good.

There is no way in God’s universe that a drug that makes people feel good will ever go unregulated.

Provigil is amazing. You know the “do no operate heavy machinery” bit? Provigil has been used on jet pilots for over two days without sleep and had no ill effects!

It is true that an effective drug is usually fatal in an overdose.

But the white power that kills more people than any other is called sugar, and you do not need a prescription saying you are not diabetic to get it.

What is important here is not the facts, but the concept.

The fact is simply that if a person gets his power in the medical industry, things are really regulated first and foremost because they are effective, not because they are dangerous.

Regulation is a power struggle, but a person who is inside a field cannot recognize that fact.