Abolish the FDA

The role of the state is to protect rights and guard against fraud, not to prevent people from making risky choices.

by Katherine Mangu-Ward

Last year, hashtag activists were ready to #AbolishICE, in part over the deaths of about 20 immigrants in custody in 2020. Protesters called on the government to “defund the police” over more than 1,000 killings by law enforcement during the same period. Those deaths are tragic, and many could have been prevented with better policy. But they pale in comparison to the blood on the hands of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the last 12 months.

Faced with the challenge of COVID-19, the FDA screwed up on nearly every level. When the agency did do something right, it was almost always by making exceptions to its normal policies and procedures.

In this month’s cover story, Ronald Bailey describes some specific targeted changes at the FDA and other bureaucracies that could make a huge difference, as well as some crucial moments when the FDA managed—with great effort—to get out of its own way. This incremental approach to reform is both admirable and realistic. To do as Bailey suggests could help ensure that COVID-19 is our last true pandemic.

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