Sunday, November 15, 2009

one voice - wrong voice

In academia, when multiple students hand in papers with identical sections, the automatic assumption is that either one of them copied from the other or both copied from a third source. The best that can happen is an "F." The worst is that the student is expelled from the institution. Imagine what would happen if 20 or 42 students handed in essentially the same paper?

That is more or less what happened in congress. An article in The New York Times reports that a written statement by Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina on the health care bill was identical to one by Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer. And 20 Democrats and 22 Republicans used very similar language in statements they presented. Coincidence? Not likely. It turns out that the language was provided by lobbyists for Genentech, one of the world's largest biotechnology firms that just happens to be a subsidiary of a Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche. Wilson & Luetkemeyer weren't even creative enough to make the words their own. They just parroted the lobbyists. 40 other representatives joined in the chorus.

Now, we wonder why health care reform has gotten nowhere. It is clearly because the discussion is controlled by those with large amounts of money and clear agendas that have little to do with controlling cost or providing the best health care possible. If these representatives had handed those statements in in many universities, they would be out before the end of the week. Let us at least call them on their irresponsibility and push them to represent us rather than the moneyed interests of big pharm and the insurance industry.

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