It’s hard to get across to students and laypeople that there often isn’t very much deep motivation for what government does. Instead, what we see is repeated patterns of behavior whose justification is that they’ve always done it this way.
Two cases in point:
- The NSA spies, and has always spied (somewhat) on Americans.
- The FDA approves what it likes, and bans anything it doesn’t (rather than just letting sleeping dogs lie).
At the same time that the NSA is secretly and illegally obtaining information about Americans the FDA is making it illegal for Americans to obtain information about themselves.
You can’t make stuff like this up. The FDA is banning — immediately — home collection kits that allow you to have your genetic material tested for genes that have been linked to disease.
… The FDA wants to regulate genetic tests as a high-risk medical device that cannot be sold until and unless the FDA permits it be sold.
The reasoning violates the First Amendment:
Reading an individual’s code is safe and effective. Interpreting the code and communicating opinions about it may or may not be safe–just like all communication–but it falls squarely under the First Amendment.
But, of course, the FDA isn’t about the First Amendment. It’s about banning things. It always has been.
And, this all relates to a second point from Why Is Macro So Hard: discouraging the collection of data that might be useful:
The FDA also has the relationship between testing and clinical validity ass-backward. The FDA wants to say no to testing until clinical validity is established but we are never going to discover clinical validity until we have mass testing.