Grassroot Perspective – May 5, 2003-Rule Doesn’t Aid Privacy; FDA Chief’s Novel Mission: Cut Americans’ Drug Costs; Teaching the Virtues

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Rule Doesn’t Aid Privacy

By Sue A. Blevins

Source: USA Today, 4/10/03

“What would you call a federal regulation that gives more than 600,000
doctors, insurers, and data-processing companies permission to share
your medical records without your consent?” asks Sue Blevins, president
of the Institute for Health Freedom. “The U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) calls it a medical privacy rule.” Her recommendation: “Rather than implement a new rule that eliminates patient consent and gives greater decision-making power to the federal government, medical privacy should be ensured through private contracts between patients, doctors and hospitals. Such contracts should be enforceable under state laws, with damages awards going to patients – not governments.”
Full text:

For a good history of how the medical privacy rule evolved, see Blevins’ article in the Christian Science Monitor. Full text:

– FDA Chief’s Novel Mission: Cut Americans’ Drug Costs

By Leila Abboud and Laurie McGinley

Source: The Wall Street Journal, 4/16/03

Dr. Mark McClellan, a physician and the first PhD economist to serve as
commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, ” is trying to make
health care, especially prescription drugs more affordable” by speeding
the approval process, The Wall Street Journal reports. “His goal, he
says, is to make the FDA’s drug-review process quicker and more
efficient, thereby reducing the escalating costs of drug development.”
Toward that goal, he is bringing in more economists to assess the costs
and benefits of FDA regulations, moving quickly to have an independent
review of the drug-review process, and changing the guidance for reviews
of cancer products. Full text online at Wall Street Journal, subscription required.

Above articles are quoted from Galen Institute, Health Policy Matters, April 18, 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Teaching the Virtues

By William J. Bennett

William J. Bennett is a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation,
co-director of Empower America and chairman and co-founder of K12, an
Internet-based elementary and secondary school. He has a B.A. from
Williams College, a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Texas and
a law degree from Harvard. In 1981, President Reagan chose him to head
the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in 1985 he was named
Secretary of the Department of Education. In 1989, President Bush
appointed him director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He
has written and edited 14 books, two of which — The Book of Virtues and
The Children’s Book of Virtues — rank among the most successful of the
past decade. His latest book is Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War
on Terrorism.

Teaching the Virtues

When I was Secretary of Education under President Reagan, I visited an
elementary school in Raleigh, North Carolina. As I did at many of the
120 schools I visited during that period, I taught a lesson there on
George Washington. Afterwards, I asked the kids if they had any
questions, and one little guy raised his hand and asked, “Mr. Secretary,
when you and President Reagan and the other people get together at
meetings of the Cabinet, do you really eat Jelly Bellys?” He’d heard
about Reagan’s penchant for Jelly Belly jelly beans. I answered, “Yes,
the president has a bowl of jelly beans at the meetings, and he eats
some and passes them around, and I’ve had a few.” And this kid looked me
in the face and said, “I think you’ve had more than a few, Mr.

This was quite funny, and I remember President Reagan laughing when I
told him about it. But the story also makes an important point. Do you
recall when Gorbachev was visiting the U.S. and trying to figure out
what America was like? He went walking up and down Connecticut Avenue,
and he went over to the National Archives to look at documents. But he
should have gone to that elementary school in Raleigh. I can guarantee
you that never in the history of the Soviet Union did an eight-year-old
look into the eyes of a heavyset minister of education and say, “I’ll
bet you eat all the caviar you can get your hands on.” Maybe the kid’s
comment was a little fresh — a little over the top — but it showed that
the ethos of liberty is in our hearts, and that is a good and important
thing. But of course it’s not the only good and important thing.

Later, when I was director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
— or Drug Czar, as some called me — I visited about 140 communities and
heard over and over a much different concern. Whether I was talking to
teachers, school administrators, parents, cops or judges, they wanted to
know: Who’s raising the children? What kind of character do our kids
have? Who’s paying attention to their morals? A judge in Detroit once
said to me: “When I ask young men today, ‘Didn’t anyone ever teach you
the difference between right and wrong?’ they answer, ‘No sir.’ And you
know, Mr. Bennett, I believe them. It is a moral vacuum out there.” I
remember teachers in the public schools asking, “Can you help us develop
some materials that we can use with our kids to teach them right from
wrong?” Isn’t that ironic? The public schools of this country, which
were established principally to provide common moral instruction for a
nation of immigrants, were now wondering if this was possible. Many
people expressed the concern that we had become so enamored of our
economic and material success that we were neglecting more important
things. Someone wrote me a letter and said, “If we have streets of gold
and silver, but our children do not learn to walk with God, what will we
have gained?”

Three Ways of Teaching Virtue

Some of us, frankly, had our doubts about whether this moral dilemma
could be solved. I authored a series of studies called the “Index of
Leading Cultural Indicators,” which, instead of measuring inflation or
interest rates, measured things like school dropout rates, drug
addiction, illegitimacy, divorce, SAT scores and crime. A lot of the
numbers were quite alarming. I wrote in the introduction to one of the
studies that if we kept moving in the direction we were going, this
great republic — this great experiment in self-government — could
conceivably unravel. So “teaching the virtues” seemed very much to me
then, and still seems to me today, a concern of prime importance for the
American people. And I think the answer regarding how to teach the
virtues is pretty straightforward. Aristotle had a good read on it, and
modern psychology and other contemporary studies back him up: We teach
by habit, we teach by precept, and we teach by example.

Aristotle says that habituation at an early age makes more than a little
difference; it can make almost all the difference. So if you want kids
to learn what work is, you should have them work. If you want them to
learn what responsibility means, you should hold them responsible. If
you want them to learn what perseverance is, you should encourage them
to persevere. And you should start as early as possible. Of course, this
is harder to do than to say. Being a parent and teaching these things is
a very rigorous exercise.

Precepts are also important. The Ten Commandments, the principles of
American democracy, rules of courteous behavior – these and other lists
of rights and wrongs should be provided to young people. But as we
provide them, young people need to know that we take these precepts
seriously. That leads to the third part of teaching virtue that
Aristotle talked about, which is example. And that, probably, is the one
we should emphasize the most. I have been to school after school where
the administration thinks it can solve its “values problem” by teaching
a course in values. I don’t believe in courses in values. I don’t think
that’s the way to go about solving the problem. If we want young people
to take right and wrong seriously, there is an indispensable condition:
They must be in the presence of adults who take right and wrong
seriously. Only in this way will they see that virtue is not just a
game, not just talk, but rather that it is something that grown-up
people, people who have responsibilities in the world and at home, take

Let me give you an extreme example of the futility of precept in the
absence of example. More than once I’ve been in schools where they are
teaching a “virtue of the week.” In one such school, the virtue of the
week was honesty. There had been a test on honesty, and the teacher told
me that she had had to prepare a second test because she had caught so
many students cheating on the first. We are missing the point of the
enterprise here. Our children won’t take honesty seriously until we
grown-ups demand honesty of ourselves and others, including our leaders.
Needless to say, the Clinton years were not good years for impressing
the virtue of honesty on our kids.

The Lessons of 9/11

Along these same lines, there are many lessons to be drawn, it seems to
me, from the events of September 11, 2001. They are teachable events,
and there is much in them for young people to learn. Many sophisticated
or pseudo-sophisticated people have been nursing the idea for years that
concepts like right and wrong and good and evil are outmoded. But we saw
these things in full force on 9/11. We saw the face of evil and felt the
hand of evil, but we also saw the face of good and felt the many hands
of good, and our kids saw and felt these things, too.

We also saw the sinew, the fiber, the character of the American people.
I am not just talking about the firefighters and the cops. I’m talking
about the people associated with Xavier High School who died trying to
rescue and help people. I’m talking about those folks on American Flight
93 – the American businessmen traveling across the country with their
laptops. These are the guys who are the butt of humor for every aspiring
pseudo-intellectual and every Hollywood filmmaker who wants to run down
America. Life in the suburbs, according to these so-called elites, is
full of emptiness and desolation and misery. Perhaps I am overstating
this, but the middle-class American businessman has been the target of
an awful lot of criticism from an awful lot of directions for an awful
lot of years. When the chips were down, though, these businessmen did
pretty well, didn’t they?

I was reading an updated transcript a couple of weeks ago in which one
of the four men who rushed the cockpit on Flight 93 said to the person
on the other end of the phone line, “We are waiting until we get over a
rural area.” They knew what was likely to happen, so they were waiting
in order to minimize the death toll. What extraordinary human beings
these ordinary Americans turned out to be.

In the aftermath of 9/11, I am re-thinking some of the things I wrote a
couple years ago about the American character. I had feared, frankly,
that we had drifted so far from the ideas and principles of our Founding
Fathers that their understanding of nobility had become but a dim
memory. Certainly it remains true that the words and deeds of George
Washington and of the other great figures of American history are not
sufficiently vivid in the minds of our kids, or even of too many of our
adults. Nevertheless, 9/11 provided pretty compelling evidence of the
solid virtues we Americans retain.

The Importance of Learning

In conclusion, let me connect my point about teaching by example to
another 9/11 story. You have probably seen Mrs. Beamer on television –
Lisa Beamer, the wife of Todd Beamer, who was one of the heroes on
Flight 93. She has said that her children will look at the picture of
her husband every day, and that she will tell them daily that he is a
hero and that they are to try to be like him. This reminded me of a
statistic I uncovered in a book that I wrote on the American family a
few years back. We all know, based on countless studies as well as
common sense, that if you want to raise happy and successful children,
the best formula is a two-parent family. Despite the fact that not all
of us have that opportunity – my brother and I were raised by a single
parent who was married several times – it’s nevertheless true. But the
statistic I discovered when writing my book was that children who lose a
father in the line of duty – because the father is a police officer or a
soldier, for example – are indistinguishable from children who grow up
in intact two-parent families. Why is that? It is because the moral
example doesn’t have to be there physically. It can be in the mind and
in the heart. As a result of Lisa Beamer saying, “Be like him,” then,
Todd Beamer will be in the minds and hearts of his kids.

This illustrates one of my favorite themes: the importance of the things
we can’t see, of non-material things. Moral examples can exist in the
memory of a father or in the memory of the Founding Fathers or in the
memory of any of the marvelous heroes in the long history of humankind.
The historian Tacitus wrote, “The task of history is to hold out for
reprobation every evil word and deed, and to hold out for praise every
great and noble word and deed.” So we don’t need courses in values. We
need good courses in history. We need to revive the reading of good
books. We need to provide good precepts and encourage good habits. Above
all we have to teach by example. Nor is this to say that we need to be
perfect to be good examples. Our children can see us try and fail from
time to time. But then they can see us try again and do better, or get
it right, the second time. Thus they learn about human limitations, but
also about human perseverance.

It’s an old notion and an old responsibility, the teaching of virtues.
Virtues don’t come in our genes, so it is the duty of every generation
to pass them on. It is a duty we are not allowed to surrender.

Above is quoted from Hillsdale College, Imprimis February 2003 “Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, the national
speech digest of Hilldale College (”

”Evergreen (Today’s Quotes)”

“Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.”
— Albert Einstein

“We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the
other side of rights.” — Pearl Buck

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’