I'm sure many of you saw something about the recent study commissioned by the New York Attorney General's office, which tested dietary supplements from four major retailers of them- Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens and General Nutrition Centers, and which found that eighty percent of them contained major adulterants, and many of them contained none of the promised ingredients at all.
As many of my readers will know, I have a very keen interest in people who believe things that are false. This dates from the late 1960's and one of the things I have followed since that time is the "health food" and "dietary supplement" business.
I first want to say that the entire history of health food fads and dietary supplements in this country, from the mid-nineteenth century and people like the Kelloggs and Sylvester Graham, through Gaylord Hauser, the Rodales, and the aforementioned General Nutrition Centers, right down to the present, has featured consistent fraud and deception. This has never changed, and it obviously goes on to this day.
Now, I would like to bring up a seemingly unrelated subject: deregulation, the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people, brought to us by Saint Ronnie Reagan. A decades-long Republican fight to prevent regulation of dietary supplements has produced the following result: someone who is sincere and wants to make a product that actually contains what it claims can obviously not compete economically with companies that feel free to sell any kind of ground up garbage as medicines. And this is the entire story of deregulation: making former crimes legal simply renders it impossible for anyone who is honest to compete with crooks. We thus have a situation in our country where, except for inherited wealth and the minuscule number of people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, the only way to get rich today is to be a crook.
Anyone who knows anything about health fads could have probably guessed that a lot of these products were fake- and, after all, with many of them, even if you get the real thing, it doesn't do a damned thing anyway. But the systematic protection of the most despicable of business practices by Republicans is sufficiently familiar to us that I guess this is really only a very minor example of it. It is staggering that so many Americans view these people as their friends, after all they have done to prove otherwise.