Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Few Bad Apples

How many times have you heard someone use the phrase "It's always the few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch", or a phrase similar to that? I know that I've heard it numerous times. Heck, I'm sure that I've even said it a few times myself.

But, it wasn't until just yesterday, after discussing the topic of "regulation" when I started to give it more thought and realized that this phrase isn't accurate. If anything, the exact opposite is true - there are only a few good apples in the bunch, trying to prevent the whole bunch from being spoiled.

Let me explain -

Take a look at a population of apples that have fallen not too far from the tree (pun intended).

If you look closely enough, you'll find a few apples that are rotten to the core, a few apples that are perfectly good, and many apples with bumps, bruises and with varying degrees of imperfections.

This large group of imperfect apples could quickly turn bad without someone intervening to prevent their deterioration. And if you look even further, you'll also find that this apple analogy also describes the human population, and how human beings behave.

Just like the population of apples, there will always be a small percentage of straight-out, wholly-selfish, psychopathic, rotten-to-the-core criminals who are unable to control their emotions and will do anything to get what they want, including behaving in inhumane ways.

Oppositely, there will also always be a small percentage of unselfish, compassionate, altruistic, and perfectly unblemished human beings who have absolute control over their emotions and will always behave in ways that best serve the entire population as a whole.

And then there's the rest of us -

We're the largest percentage of the population - imperfect, battered, and bruised people who may not always understand or care how our behaviors might affect others, have varying degrees of control over our emotions, and sometimes behave inappropriately.

Most of us vacillate between the light side and the dark side of our behaviors. It's only after the scales tip to the dark side for the majority of us, when the whole population becomes rotten.

So as you can see, a few bad apples won't spoil the bunch. They're easy to spot. It's when most of the bruised apples go bad that the entire bunch is ruined. Identifying them requires a closer look.


If history has proven anything, it's that human beings cannot control their emotions, and will behave in ways that satisfy those uncontrolled emotions. When viewed as a whole, more than a few people will tend to act selfishly and cannot be freely entrusted to do what's best, or safe, for the whole.

And THAT'S why we need regulation. If an enterprise has the capability of harming a large percentage of the population, then someone else needs to be looking over their shoulder to ensure they don't.

Don't believe the growing percentage of criminals who "call themselves" Republicans or Libertarians when they say that Government needs to stay out of their business. They're trying to manipulate your bruised and battered mind into enabling their crimes, and to turn you into a bad apple.

America is a Republic. We're a society founded upon, and governed by, laws, rules, and regulations created precisely to protect it's members from the rotten apples intent on harming us. As such, we Americans should expect regulation and welcome it when it's needed.

But, trying to get the politically-appointed regulators to enforce the rules fairly? That's another rant.


  1. And - now it becomes a Federal case per Massachusetts Congressman, Ed Malarkey (pdf) -

  2. Thomas Jefferson, famous for his sunny appraisal of human nature and his faith in the good sense of the common folk, insisted that “in questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

  3. Yeah, but Jefferson also thought that our country was too big to have all of its affairs directed by one government. He thought that the common people should have the power and so the State Governments should have more power because they know their people better.

    So, if you're talking about regulating compounding pharmacies, which I think you are, it's already been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that we can't rely on self-regulation, fear of prosecution is not enough of a deterrent.

    I believe the laws need to be changed in order to be more clear and specific, and their facilities inspected regularly to make sure compounding pharmacies aren't abusing their privileges and harming people. We MUST protect the public.

    BUT, and that's a BIG but, I also think that writing and enforcing those laws should be the responsibility of the individual States, not the Federal Government.

    Malarkey's call for Federal intervention "had" to be expected because of the large number of innocent people affected by the multistate fungal meningitis outbreak and because of the tremendous outrage it generated. But, it's not the right solution to the problem.

  4. My writing skills have always been bordering on rudimentary. I think that Arthur Cutten succinctly describes what I'm trying to say in my post much better than I can do it myself when he says -

    "But there are times when corruption and callous greed becomes more tolerated, and a larger segment of the population that is not amoral, but is perhaps morally ambivalent or suggestible, joins in on the action and tries to get theirs. And the guilt which they feel often turns into a mean-spirited contempt and anger against their own victims."

  5. Another "Bad Apple" analogy via U.S. Pharmacist and Jesse Vivian - Compounding: Problem or Pariah?

  6. And there is it. Because of excessive greed on behalf of a few bad apples and our failure to appropriately self-regulate compounding pharmacies, a higher authority must step in to prevent the whole bunch of apples from becoming rotten.

    Proactive Inspections Further Highlight Need for New Authorities for Pharmacy Compounding and FDA: Pharmacy Compounding

  7. Sounds like the ongoing saga of pharmacy. The excessive greed of a few allowing a third-party to get their foot in the door to dictate how we practice our profession.

  8. A little recent historical analysis of free markets, self-regulation and their failures. -

    Jan/Feb 2011 - The Rise of the New Global Elite.

    March 2010 - A New (dis)Order?: Questioning the Self-Regulating Market

  9. I found this MIT paper gives a good definition of the problem.
    Rotten Apples or a Rotting Barrel?

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