The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, September 07, 2007

Give me selective Federalism AND give me death!

More than a year ago, Henry Waxman compiled a report that demonstrated the GOP's staunch commitment to better living through smaller federal government:

In 2005, FDA headquarters issued 535 warning letters to companies, a 54% decline from 1,154 such notices issued in 2000, according to a report by the House Government Reform Committee's Democratic staff.

But over the same period, the number of violations reported by FDA inspectors in the field barely budged, dipping just 1% — from 6,334 to 6,268.

That is, when the report wasn't demonstrating the GOP's staunch commitment to better living through expanded federal authority:

The House and the Senate have voted 15 times to override state health, safety and environmental laws. Congress has enacted laws that bar states from regulating emissions from lawnmowers, requiring the use of clean-burning gasoline, or controlling the siting of electricity transmission lines and liquefied natural gas terminals.

Huh. So... it's all about states' rights. Even when it undermines public safety. Except when it's about increased federal control, especially when it undermines public safety. Gee. Maybe a more recent example can help me figure out what this contradictory stance is supposed to accomplish. Hopefully I can find a common theme.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today announced strong opposition to provisions in the House “Farm Bill,” H.R.2419 that would end federal meat inspection. The bill, which recently passed the House, lowers food safety standards by encouraging meat and poultry producers to forgo rigorous safety enforcement and opt for less stringent state guidelines. . . .

The Farm Bill would also remove the current ban on shipping state-inspected meat to other states. This would have a serious impact on consumers if products processed in a particular state are found to have been tainted and must be recalled. “Individual states do not have the full capacity to track recalled meat and poultry in other states," [said AFGE president John Gage.]

All right, let's see what we've got.

First example: limiting the ability of the federal government to protect citizens from dangerous products.
Second example: limiting the ability of individual states to protect citizens from dangerous products.
Third example: limiting the ability of the federal government to protect citizens from dangerous products.

No, I'm afraid I'm baffled. Could it be that this isn't actually about federalism at all? That the GOP could simply be paying lip service to a concept while lining their pockets with corporate dollars? Even though that money is literally a means by which corporations can create hazardous-- and even deadly-- products with less fear of being held responsible?

Naahhhhh.... I'm just being a nutty radical again. That sort of thing only happens in China. And American companies have made it perfectly clear that they will not tolerate the dangerous manufacturing processes and political corruption of that nation. If it kills enough people to wreck the profit margin, that is.