Friday, May 24, 2013

If It Doesn't Kill Us, Conservatism Makes Us Sick.


"Enabling Greed Makes U.S. Sick," an article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship at Moyers & Company at http://billmoyers.com/2013/05/20/enabling-greed-makes-u-s-sick/, reminds us that those who make us ill are not the Democrats, the Liberals, the Communists, the Socialists, or anyone else on the Left  So who does that leave?  They've captured the Supreme Court and Congress, had eight years with all three branches of government under their control, and have moved in on the regulatory agencies too.  Read on:

"At the end of a week that reminds us to be ever vigilant about the dangers of government overreaching its authority, whether by the long arm of the IRS or the Justice Department, we should pause to think about another threat — from too much private power obnoxiously intruding into public life.

"All too often, instead of acting as a brake on runaway corporate power and greed, government becomes their enabler, undermining the very rules and regulations intended to keep us safe.

"Think of inadequate inspections of food and the food-related infections which kill 3,000 Americans each year and make 48 million sick. A new study from Johns Hopkins shows elevated levels of arsenic — known to increase a person’s risk of cancer — in chicken meat. According to the university’s Center for a Livable Future, 'Arsenic-based drugs have been used for decades to make poultry grow faster and improve the pigmentation of the meat. The drugs are also approved to treat and prevent parasites in poultry… Currently in the U.S., there is no federal law prohibiting the sale or use of arsenic-based drugs in poultry feed.'



"And here’s a story in The Washington Post about toxic, bacteria-killing chemicals used in poultry plants to clean more chickens more quickly to meet increased demand and make more money. According to Amanda Hitt, director of the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign, 'They are mixing chemicals together in these plants, and it’s making people sick. Does it work better at killing off pathogens? Yes, but it also can send someone into respiratory arrest.'

"So far, the government has done next to nothing. No research into the possible side effects, no comprehensive record-keeping on illnesses. 'Instead,' the Post reports, 'they review data provided by chemical manufacturers.' What’s more, the Department of Agriculture is about to allow the production lines to move even faster, by as much as 25 percent, which means more chemicals, more exposure, more sickness.

"Think of that and think of the 85,000 industrial chemicals available today – only a handful have been tested for safety. Ian Urbina writes in The New York Times, 
'Hazardous chemicals have become so ubiquitous that scientists now talk about babies being born pre-polluted, sometimes with hundreds of synthetic chemicals showing up in their blood.'
"Think, too, of that horrific explosion of ammonium nitrate in the Texas fertilizer plant. Fifteen people were killed and their little town devastated. The magazine Mother Jones noted, 'Inspections are virtually non-existent; regulatory agencies don’t talk to each other; and there’s no such thing as a buffer zone when it comes to constructing plants and storage facilities in populated areas.' For years, the Fertilizer Institute, described as 'the nation’s leading lobbying organization of the chemical and agricultural industries,' resisted regulation and legislators went along. People can lose their lives when federal or state government winks at bad corporate practices — 4,500 workplace deaths annually at a cost to America of nearly half a trillion dollars.



"As Salon’s columnist and author David Sirota observes, 'If all this data was about a terrorist threat, the reaction would be swift — negligent federal agencies would be roundly criticized and the specific state’s lax attitude toward security would be lambasted. Yet, after the fertilizer plant explosion, there has been no proactive reaction at all, other than Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry boasting about his state’s ‘comfort with the amount of oversight’ that already exists.'

"Finally, consider this story from ProPublica’s investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten about a uranium company that wanted a mining project in Texas that threatened to pollute drinking water. The EPA resisted — until the company hired as its lobbyist the Democratic fundraiser and fixer Heather Podesta, a favorite of the White House. Her firm was paid $400,000, she pulled the strings, and presto, the EPA changed its mind and said yes, go ahead and do your dirty work. In fact, ProPublica found that 'the agency has used a little-known provision in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to issue more than 1,500 exemptions allowing energy and mining companies to pollute aquifers, including many in the driest parts of the country.'



"Of course, in a free society we’ll always be debating the role of government and its agencies. What are the limits, when is government oversight necessary and when is it best deterred? But it’s not only government that can go too far. As long as there are insufficient checks and balances on big business and its powerful lobbies, we are at their mercy. Their ability to buy off public officials is an assault on democracy and a threat to our lives and health. When an entire political system persists in producing such gross injustice, it is making inevitable wholesale defiance."

From Wikipedia:

"The stated rationale for deregulation is often that fewer and simpler regulations will lead to a raised level of competitiveness, therefore higher productivity, more efficiency and lower prices overall. Opposition to deregulation may usually involve apprehension regarding environmental pollution[2] and environmental quality standards (such as the removal of regulations on hazardous materials), financial uncertainty, and constraining monopolies.

"Regulatory reform is a parallel development alongside deregulation. Regulatory reform refers to organized and ongoing programs to review regulations with a view to minimizing, simplifying, and making them more cost effective. Such efforts, given impetus by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, are embodied in the United States Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and the United Kingdom's Better Regulation Commission. Cost-benefit analysis is frequently used in such reviews. In addition, there have been regulatory innovations, usually suggested by economists, such as emissions trading.

"Deregulation can be distinguished from privatization, where privatization can be seen as taking state-owned service providers into the private sector.

AND:

"The deregulation movement of the late 20th century had substantial economic effects and engendered substantial controversy. As preceding sections of this article indicate, the movement was based on intellectual perspectives which prescribed substantial scope for market forces, and opposing perspectives have been in play in national and international discourse.

"The movement toward greater reliance on market forces has been closely related to the growth of economic and institutional globalization between about 1950 and 2010.[citation needed]

"Critics of economic liberalisation and deregulation cite the benefits of regulation, and believe that certain regulations do not distort markets and allows companies to continue to be competitive, or according to some, grow in competition.[22] Much as the state plays an important role through issues such as property rights, appropriate regulation is argued by some to be "crucial to realise the benefits of service liberalisation".[22]



"Critics of deregulation often cite the need of regulation to:[22]
create a level playing field and ensure competition (e.g., by ensuring new energy providers have competitive access to the national grid); 
maintain quality standards for services (e.g., by specifying qualification requirements for service providers); 
protect consumers (e.g. from fraud);  
ensure sufficient provision of information (e.g., about the features of competing services); 
prevent environmental degradation (e.g., arising from high levels of tourist development); 
guarantee wide access to services (e.g., ensuring poorer areas where profit margins are lower are also provided with electricity and health services); and, 
prevent financial instability and protect consumer savings from excessive risk-taking by financial institutions.
AND:

"Sharon Beder, a writer with PR Watch, wrote 'Electricity deregulation was supposed to bring cheaper electricity prices and more choice of suppliers to householders. Instead it has brought wildly volatile wholesale prices and undermined the reliability of the electricity supply.'[24]

"William K. Black claims that inappropriate deregulation helped create a criminogenic environment in the savings and loan industry, which attracted opportunistic control frauds like Charles Keating, whose massive political campaign contributions were used successfully to further suppress regulatory oversight. The combination substantially delayed effective governmental action, thereby substantially increasing the losses when the fraudulent Ponzi schemes finally collapsed and were exposed. After the collapse, regulators in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) were finally allowed to file thousands of criminal complaints that led to over a thousand felony convictions of key Savings and Loan insiders.[25] By contrast, between 2007 and 2010, the OCC and OTS combined made 'zero' criminal referrals; Black concluded that elite financial fraud has effectively been decriminalized.[26]

"Economist Jayati Ghosh is of the opinion that deregulation is responsible for increasing price volatility on the commodity market. This particularly affects people and economies in developing countries. More and more homogenization of financial institution which may also be a result of deregulation turns out to be a major concern for small-scale producers in those countries." [27]

Deregulation as promulgated by the Conservative propagandists is a joke, and the "free market" is a demonstrable plot to kill democracy, as we shall see tomorrow.


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"Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity."

Frank Leahy (American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and

professional sports executive. 1908 – 1973)

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