Perverse "Philanthropy"

It's said that the most noble philanthropists are not those who give millions of dollars and, in exchange, get their names carved on public buildings, but those who give anonymously, expecting nothing in return.

Well, somewhere in congress, there lurks a charitable "saint"... at least in terms of anonymous giving. In this case, the gift went to Eli Lilly, the giant drug maker. As part of the bill to create the humongous Department of Homeland Security, some congress critter generously and silently contributed a special amendment that exempts Eli Lilly from liability for the damage that one of its chemicals can cause for our children.

The chemical is thimerosol, a drug preservative that contains mercury and may have caused autism and other neurological damage in many children who took drugs containing the additive. Lawsuits by parents against Eli Lilly have sprung up all across the country. But -- poof! -- these suits have now disappeared, thanks to this charitable ammendment removing Lilly's liability.

Who was the corporation's congressional benefactor? No one's taking credit. The amendment was snuck into the Homeland Security bill behind closed doors, but none of the negotiators will admit to the giveaway. The Bush White House, which says it's all for this bit of corporate compassion -- and which has extensive ties to Eli Lilly -- nonetheless won't claim credit for inserting the ammendment. Even Lilly's CEO, who has been given a coveted seat on the New Homeland Security Advisory Council, says he never even asked for the favor.

Meanwhile, Lilly lawyers are rushing to court to dismiss all of the suits of the families, citing the lucky amendment as its reason. At least one mother, whose son took Thimerosol and now suffers severely from autism, cried when she learned of Congress' generosity to Lilly -- "It just makes me sick," she said.

The lawmaker who did this to her is one "philanthropist" whose name deserves to be plastered on a wall of shame somewhere.

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