Friday, July 13, 2007

Surgeons general silenced for political reasons? Gasp!

The other day, a group of former surgeons general (including the Colonel Sanders-looking guy from the Life Alert commercials) testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about their work and reports being silenced by various current and former administrations. Of course, it's no surprise that the Bush administration has stiff-armed its chief medical scientist; right-wing ideology has always trumped scientific consensus (global warming and stem cells, anyone?). But there were surgeons general from both sides of the aisle at the hearing, so it's not an pachyderms- or asses-only problem.
It seems to me that there will always be political pressure to silence medical research. So here's a solution: make the Surgeon General an independent entity. (S)he will still be the principal adviser to the President, but will not be subject to Executive branch control and censorship. In practice, this should work out well for all parties. The American people will have access to quality information (like the fact that abstinence-only sex education is the dumbest idea this side of letting Cheney's oil pals write the energy policy), the Surgeon General will be treated as an actual scientist should be treated, and the administration would be able to answer extremist critics by saying that they will not interfere with an independent entity. It's not too hard, folks.

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