Similarly, regulations around health supplements are ridiculously lax. This is thanks to the deregulation craze of the 1990s, and especially Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who was deep in the pocket of the supplement industry. He pushed through the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which opened the floodgates of snake oil. It’s a political and public health issue — tens of thousands of people have gotten severely ill and some have died from taking quack remedies that never should have been allowed to be sold. Keeping our food and medicine pure is one of the foundational tasks of any state.

And that in turn folds into a general problem: even when this kind of stuff is illegal (as it often is), the federal government has been incredibly reluctant to prosecute white-collar crime of any sort. Is it any surprise that the same government is now crawling with fraudsters and con artists?

Now, it is not only grifting that fuels the epidemic of conspiracy theorizing on the far right. In the case of QAnon, it is plainly being driven by the deep need to square the right’s hero-worship of Trump with his dismally incompetent performance. It can’t be that our big, beautiful president just horrendously botched the response to the pandemic, it must be the dread Deep State foiling him at every turn.

But cracking down on small-time swindles and frauds would help, potentially quite a lot.