By John Stone
I always supposed that the concept of agency capture, in which government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control or the Food and Drug Administration are taken over by the culture industries from which they were meant to be independent, was a bad thing. I understood that the usual posture of such bodies was simply to pretend that it was not happening and that there were regulations in place that were actively protecting the public interest (despite appearances). That was until I encountered the website of Dorit Rubenstein Reiss and her unpublished paper (most of her papers appear to be unpublished) ‘The Benefits of Capture’. According to Reiss :
“Observers of the administrative state warn against “capture” of administrative agencies and lament its disastrous effects. This article suggests that the term “capture”, applied to a close relationship between industry and regulator, is not useful—by stigmatizing that relationship, judging it as problematic from the start, it hides its potential benefits. The literature on “capture” highlights its negative results—lax enforcement of regulation; weak regulations; illicit benefits going to industry. This picture, however, is incomplete and in substantial tension with another current strand of literature which encourages collaboration between industry and regulator. The collaboration literature draws on the fact that industry input into the regulatory process has important benefits for the regulatory state. Industry usually has information no one else has, and has more incentive to give that information to a friendly regulator. Furthermore, working with industry can substantially improve the impact of regulation; voluntary compliance is cheaper and can be more effective than enforced compliance, and industry can help regulators minimize negative unintended consequences. This paper suggests that instead of engaging in name-calling, we should focus on identifying when a close industry-regulator relationship will work in the public interest, and when it is likely to undermine it. That is an empirical question.”
Dorit Reiss, associate law professor Hastings campus University of California, first came to my notice the other week commenting on Rabbi Handler’s article about vaccination in the Jewish Press. I was fascinated to see how all my comments (and those of other contributors to Age of Autism) seemed to be swiftly removed after I challenged her on certain points. Then I discovered that she had responded in Harvard Law Review to Mary Holland, advocating that parents of unvaccinated children should be made liable for infection. Barely a month ago probably no one in the field of vaccine safety advocacy had ever heard of Dorit Reiss now she seems to be everywhere, and passionate proponent of the vaccine industrial machine in all its guises and rampant institutional ambition.
The bottom line to all this, of course, is where is she coming from, to which there is an answer. Reiss is on the Parent Advisory Board of ‘Voices for Vaccines’ , the Scientific Advisory Board of which includes Alan R Hinman, Paul A Offit, Stanley A Plotkin and Deborah L Wexler . The website states that Voices for Vaccines was re-launched in 2013 and is “an administrative project” of the Task Force for Global Health. The Wiki entry for Task Force reads :
“The Task Force for Global Health, is a non profit organization affiliated with Emory University. The organization was co-founded by global health pioneer and former CDC Director, Dr. William Foege and two of his former CDC colleagues, Carol Walters and Bill Watson. It was founded in 1984 as the Task Force for Child Survival. The Task Force was initially tapped to serve as a Secretariat for a consortium of global health organizations: UNICEF, WHO, The Rockefeller Foundation, The United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank. These organizations sought Task Force support for a collaborative effort to improve child wellness and survival strategies. With the Task Force as Secretariat for the network, they resolved to work together to develop and implement a plan for global immunization efforts and measures to promote and maintain healthy children and families.
“Over its 28 year history, The Task Force has expanded the role of neutral convener and collaborator to address a broader range of global health challenges. In doing so, the organization changed its name to The Task Force for Global Health in 2009. Today, The Task Force has programs in three critical sectors of global health: Health System Strengthening, Immunization and Vaccines (the Task Force Center for Vaccine Equity), and neglected tropical diseases. In each sector, The Task Force works with partners and communities around the world to provide resources to improve global health for those in need. The organization works in 91 countries, collaborating with organizations such as WHO, as well as partnerships with industry to provide much needed medicines and communities to educate about disease prevention.
“The Task Force for Global Health is a nonprofit, public health organization, recognized as a 501(c)(3) corporation. The organization is based in Decatur, Georgia, near our partners at CDC, The Carter Center, CARE, and Emory University Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.”