Two stories today make it clear that, in the words Paul Krugman in the NY Times:
I don’t think many people grasp just how raw, how explicit, the corruption of our institutions has become.
The first story is about the American Conservative Union, who claim to be the “nation’s largest and oldest conservative grassroots lobby.” This “grassroots” organization asked FedEx for a check for $2 to $3 million in order to buy the ACU’s support in a legislative dispute. When FedEx refused, the ACU flipped sides and supported their competitor, UPS. If you really want to see how “pay to play” works, read the letter from the ACU offering to support FedEx if they pay. Then read the letter the ACU signed after FedEx refused to pay.
What makes this doubly ironic is that when the ACU was confronted by the evidence, their response was to deny that UPS paid them any money. So I guess it is all right since they only signed the letter supporting UPS to spite FedEx for not paying.
The second story is about Joseph Biederman, the Harvard psychiatrist who conducted the primary studies that led to the explosion in the use drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder. It turns out that he was being paid off by the drug companies. In fact, he proposed studies to the drug companies (which they would pay for), complete with assurances of the results of the studies (even before he bothered to perform the studies). In other words, he was asking for money to perform studies that would have the results that the payer wanted. Of course, the big pharma companies gladly paid for these studies, so they could hook our kids on drugs.
Unfortunately for them, these “studies” are now falling apart. There is an article in the July issue of Scientific American about the long term dangers of these drugs, even though Biederman’s studies claimed that they were safe. For example, it has been established that these drugs stunt growth in humans, in direct contradiction to Biederman’s findings. How much did they pay him to do that study?
The second story also has an ironic twist. During a deposition in February 2009, Biederman was asked his rank at Harvard, and responded he was a full professor. When asked if there was a rank after that, Biederman responded “God”.