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by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
I was under the impression that the United States Congress was charged with the responsibility of enacting laws and other legislative functions. I was not aware that the United States Congress was supposed to be sticking its nose into what I would call other people’s business.

Take for instance, the baseball doping scandal, sure they had Roger Clemens and a host of other super athletes up on the hill to give their versions of who shot John, but is this really the responsibility of our Congress? I mean some of the panel members posed for photos with the baseball greats and got autographs. This doesn’t look like much of an investigation to me; it looks more like a photo opportunity than anything else. If I’m not mistaken I think we have a baseball commissioner whose job it is to see that the game is played fair and square and that drug testing is done on a routine basis to check for steroid abuse. I don’t see where this falls under the authority of the Congress.

Then we have Spy-Gate or whatever you want to call it, the investigation into the spying of other professional football teams which was allegedly authorized by the coach of the New England Patriots. Here again Congress gets their panties in a wad and convenes hearings in another matter which as I recall again should be the concern of the NFL commissioner. Another photo opportunity for members of Congress.

Last but not least, is this ridiculous item that just surfaced. If you watch the news at night rather than MTV you probably have noticed that there is a proliferation of advertisements for various and sundry medical products. The demographics for the news must have determined that those of us that watch the news need diapers, can’t have sex, have false teeth, hemorrhoids, restless leg syndrome and various skin conditions too numerous to mention. They also advertise a drug called Lipitor.

The spokesman for Lipitor for several years now has been a Dr. Robert Jarvik. Dr. Jarvik is the inventor of the artificial heart and started describing the benefits of Lipitor in 2006. The congress is now probing the use of old Dr. Jarvik and has reached a conclusion that forced Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, to remove Dr. Jarvik from the ads. Their rational was simple….”We are concerned that consumers might be misled by Pfizer’s television ads for Lipitor using Dr. Jarvik. Dr. Jarvik’s appearance in the ads could influence consumers into taking medical advice from someone who may not be licensed to practice medicine in the United States.” The statement went on to say that Americans with heart disease should consult with their own doctors and make medical decisions based upon their advice rather than commercials.

Hello? Do you think that Congress is unaware that Lipitor isn’t an over the counter drug and that you have to have a prescription from a real, let me say it again, a real doctor in order to obtain any of this medicine? I hardly think I can stroll into my neighborhood pharmacy and say something like… “I saw Dr. Jarvik on the tube last night; he convinced me I needed some Lipitor, give me a bottle of it, please…” You try it and let me know what happens.

Ok, so perhaps Dr. Jarvik doesn’t practice medicine any longer. He did at one time.He probably doesn’t need to practice medicine any longer. He is not called Dr. Jarvik for nothing. He did go to medical school and he is a doctor. Whether he is a practicing doctor or not is unknown. So, his being a spokesman for this drug differs from other commercials where some person dresses up in a white coat with a stethoscope draped around their neck and tells us about a new drug or treatment? This is different? How so, pray tell? I love those drug commercials where the guy strolls through the nurses’ station in his white jacket and looks very serious into the camera and tells you about something or another, then at the bottom of the screen there is a little line that says … ‘These are paid actors’.

I can recall a time when doctors endorsed cigarettes on television. I guess they were doctors, who could tell? My point is, if what Dr. Javik could be construed as misleading, then ok why not have the FDA or some other federal agency that controls these things do their work and investigate whether or not these commercials should continue to be on the air? Isn’t that one of their primary functions?

No, I smell another photo opportunity in the making. We’ll see a big room with a panel of twenty or so congressmen and congresswomen looking very serious while asking another series of inane questions to people about their industry. Their aides will be standing silently behind them poised to run errands or whatever at the slightest movement of their highnesses hands. The tables will be covered with a hundred photographers set to snap any photo of anyone who says anything about anything no matter how stupid or immaterial it might be. No one smiles; it is a rule that you must have a perpetual snarl on your face. You, the congress person have assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner and there must not be any evidence of levity in these so serious proceedings.

We’ll save those laughs for the hour after the hearings adjourn and then we meet in the hall and can get photos and autographs. “Please sign this for my grandson…he’s a big fan of yours……hahahahahah……so good to see you again…..smile.”

What a waste of taxpayer time and money…..
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

March 20, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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