Government funding cuts seem to be the one overarching plot line tying the Trump Administration narrative together. We’ve seen this in the fiscal budget cuts and now in the most recent reveal of the Senate healthcare bill that could leave 22 million people without health insurance.
Throughout this narrative, the media has done an influential job of painting Trump as the great antagonist. He’s the Lex Luther to the American public’s Superman, looking to use any forms of Kryptonite necessary to uproot citizens’ well-being.
But, there’s one thing the media is ignoring. Corruption has infiltrated government agencies in more House of Cards ways than we’d like to admit. Although Trump’s ethics and actions themselves may teeter on the fine line of this misconduct — in some cases it could very well be that funding cuts and an overhaul of regulations are what resets the standards for right and wrong actions.
Now, I’ve written on the topic of Trump’s budget cuts and policy changes before, with the belief that they will not do any favors for the American public. And I stand by the belief that this administration’s actions are not even close to being the best course of action. But they’re nonetheless a step forward that the Obama administration was too afraid to take. And perhaps it’s about time that someone does.
First, let’s explore just how harmful Trump’s proposed cuts and other overhauls could actually be for an unprecedented number of Americans. Making the most headlines is the administration’s proposed 31.4% cut to the EPA, a loss of funding that could throw a hard punch at the agency’s programs focused on climate change initiatives and environmental actions. These cuts would impact everything from the cleanup of hazardous waste sites to state grants given for specific environmental work. Since we live and breathe on the land the EPA is focused on protecting and reviving — forgoing for a moment the discussion of it’s verifiable internal corruption — it’s not just the environment’s health that’s at stake. Our own health could be in jeopardy as well.
Closely linked with the EPA’s loss of funding is a proposed cut to the FDA. The agency is set to lose $83 million for its food safety programs that work towards ensuring that food is properly labeled, that corporations comply with regulations, and that food-borne illness outbreaks are quickly and effectively ended. Americans should feel safe with the food choices they’re making. A loss of funding could mean a lack in safety that no one should have to face.
Then, we cross into the sticky territory of litigation overhauls that the Trump Administration has called for with tort reform. These changes would apply to lawsuits filed by a plaintiff that has suffered some type of loss or injury at the hands of another, whether it be a corporation, doctor, or other defendant. The proposed changes include a $250,000 damage cap on noneconomic damages awarded, such as the pain and suffering endured from an injury. Critics of tort reform specifically call out the damage cap as something that would cause even more harm to a victim. They’d receive less money than deserved from an injury that may have changed their lives forever.
Tort reforms would also lower the current statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit from 10 to 3 years. To understand these drastic implications, it’s best to relate them to the recent lawsuits filed because of the reported link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. If a woman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years after she stopped using the talc-based baby powder that contributed to the illness, she wouldn’t be able to file a claim because the cancer would have been discovered two years outside the statute of limitations.
It’s difficult to deny that these funding cuts and policy changes would likely harm Americans in one way or another. Even acknowledging that there’s a chance the public could be harmed should make you throw your arms up in outrage. But, there’s another aspect that’s difficult to ignore and even more difficult to deny.
Corruption is the hidden antagonist in this narrative. It’s the double-crosser you believed was on the hero’s side, but you’ve finally come to realize it was all a ruse. If funding cuts are hazardous to the American public, it’s corruption that may be even more dangerous.
Again, let’s start with the EPA. For one, the agency was caught misusing $15,000 worth of taxpayer funding for employee gym memberships rather than for the programs focused on environmental efforts. Don’t you think our hard-earned money should actually be going to the programs that will benefit us and the environment rather than to boost a scientist’s fitness level? Yeah, me too.
There has also been the blatant disregard for Americans’ safety with collusion between the EPA and Monsanto, the company responsible for the sale of Roundup. Faulty chemical review procedures led to false claims that the product’s main active ingredient was safe for consumers.
Then we have litigation changes that also fall victim to this corruption because of lawyers focused on only making a profit. Proponents of tort reform have made the argument that these litigators will manipulate class action lawsuits for the dollar amount that’s likely tied to it.
Perhaps the greatest amount of corruption is found in the FDA because of the wrestling match between Big Pharma and agency regulations. Big Pharma equals big business, and the corporations have skirted regulations and spurred on drug lobbies to push a self-serving agenda. A prime example lies in the success of the lobbies to make the importation of prescription drugs illegal under the guise that it’s for the safety of the public and for the drug companies serving them.
If you take a look at prescription drug use statistics however, you’ll realize that it’s only big business that will benefit. One in five drugs approved by the FDA causes serious injury to individuals, and prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in America. Then, take into consideration that over 52,000 people died of drug-related overdoses in 2015. Even if death was caused by illegally obtained substances like heroin, it’s the marketing of prescription drugs by pharmaceutical companies and the over-prescription of pills that often starts the user down the path of destruction.
Rap artist and recovering drug addict Macklemore does an excellent job of highlighting just how far FDA corruption goes with the lyrics to his 2016 song “Drug Dealer.”
My drug dealer was a doctor, doctor / Had the plug from Big Pharma, Pharma
He said that he would heal me, heal me / But he only gave me problems, problems
So, you could argue that Trump is a villain and that every decision he has made negatively impacts the health and safety of the American public. But, maybe there are even bigger villains roaming the streets and causing destruction with every step they take, villains we have to eliminate by finally realizing the governmental chaos that’s been caused.
As the saying goes, “it takes one to know one.” Maybe Trump is the villain who knows what it takes to rid the country of this chaos once and for all.