Yesterday I discovered that the FDA is barring me from obtaining software that might significantly improve my hearing. Bizarre as that may sound it's true.
My hearing ability is entirely dependent on a small but powerful signal processor that feeds about 1 MB of data per second through my scalp to an implanted device that in turn sends an electrical signal to my cochlea. (See a detailed explanation of cochlear implants here.) The manufacturer of my device has developed a new processing algorithm for the signal processor that, according to studies already done in Europe and Canada, results in a 50% increase in most people's ability to distinguish speech in a noisy environment. Since noise is the #1 enemy of everyone who lives with a cochlear implant, this is fantastic news.
Implant users in Europe and Canada are already benefiting from this new software, but here in the U.S., the lengthy FDA approval process is just getting started. It's likely to take at least a year before the FDA decides that this software is safe enough for me to use.
My first reaction to this news was "wow, this could be really great!" My second reaction was "what possible health risk could there be in an updated version of software?" Why is the FDA getting involved in this in the first place? Why can't I get it right now? Upon further reflection, I am now wondering where in the Constitution it says that the federal government can dictate to me what process or software I use to hear?
This is just one small, tiny example of what happens to individual liberties when the State expands in size and scope. It's outrageous.