I guess the drama isn’t done yet: just recently America was treated to the first Congressional hearings where selected members of the Sackler family (owners of Purdue Pharma) made an appearance. It was via Zoom. Their motivation? The threat of a subpoena.
I can understand their wish to avoid the occasion. It was a rare bipartisan public paddling:
As awful as Purdue’s conduct may have been, it was overshadowed in the media just a few days later by new revelations about the Trump Administration’s role in suppressing the truth about COVID-19. We learned that one Paul Alexander, a shadowy political figure brought to the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the White House’s interests, had circulated emails that instructed CDC officials to deliberately downplay the mounting danger. Worse yet, the emails demanded that HHS officials encourage younger, less vulnerable Americans to go out and get infected with the virus.
It’s hard to believe, but apparently true.
I’m always a bit skeptical about high profile political spankings. All too often, their bark turns out to be far worse than the eventual bite. The Sacklers, having made a fabulous fortune off Oxycontin, now seek protection from the consequences under the bankruptcy laws. It looks like they may get it. It’s a tactic that Donald Trump has used repeatedly, when one of his business ventures collapsed under its own weight.
It’s all legal, but as the legislators made plain, arguably unethical. If businesses can get away with that sort of chicanery, what incentive is there for others to avoid such conduct in future?
Ironically, since the Sacklers have long been major donors and supporters of a number of worthy nonprofits, those institutions are themselves tainted for having taken the money. It’s like when a crime syndicate funds good works in the neighborhood in order to build good will. Maybe our money isn’t squeaky clean, but don’t forget who paid for your new ball field…
Some of those emails to CDC officials from the Administration are hard to swallow. An excerpt: “…Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd [immunity]…we want them infected….and recovered…with antibodies…”
I thought the whole point of the mad rush for vaccines is to avoid a scenario where so-called “natural” herd immunity requires millions and millions to die. It’s a far from foolproof scheme, by the way. The idea of encouraging healthy people and even children to risk infection — it’s beyond my understanding. Too much we don’t know about this new disease and its longterm effects on survivors.
So why did the Administration adopt it? A guess: as a desperate act on the part of a sagging political campaign with a lot on the line.
After all, few folks more prone to extreme risks than campaign strategists facing a loss.
Fortunately for the rest of us, the attempt failed. This time.
But now I’m wondering if they’ll get away with it.