Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good Housekeeping against the FDA

From Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man, here's an excerpt on page 195 of the hardcover version about Rex Tugwell – an important Brain Truster – and the strengthening of the American regulatory state:

Tugwell had spent the year fighting, with FDR's support, for a radical updating of the old Food and Drug legislation, the idea being to regulate more thoroughly from Washington "the purveyors of doubtful nostrums and unregulated foods," as he put it later. Others however saw his effort as an outrageous theft of a function normally provided by the private sector – quality control. At one point Eleanor Roosevelt, who herself had a sense of humor, invited Rex to lunch. The lady seated next to him, Tugwell would later report, "turned out to be one of the editors of Good Housekeeping, a magazine that offered to approved products something known as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval." Tugwell commented that "the lady in question was very high and mighty." The guest from the magazine spoke angrily to Tugwell – probably more so than Mrs. Roosevelt had intended. But "the situation was saved," Tugwell concluded later, "in a most unexpected way: an awkward waiter spilled a bowl of tomato soup in my lap and I was able to withdraw without dishonor." Nonetheless, the event stuck with Tugwell: still an idealist, he could not see why the Good Housekeeping lady had been so angry.

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