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Stacked Deck

With the latest egg scare coming to a head, I am sure that you will be reading plenty of commentary on how we need the FDA to take a greater role in food oversight, and that the powers of the FDA should be expanded. Of course, a crisis is a great opportunity to get people reacquainted with the idea that we would all be dead and starving were it not for the government.

Two observations.

  1. Indeed, the FDA already has strong oversight powers in the food market. It would be impossible to have even a small portion of the food supply monitored and checked regularly. In any case, the egg contamination happened on the FDA’s watch, just as the Gulf Oil spill happened under the eye of the regulatory authorities, just as the financial crisis took place under the eye of the SEC, Fed and other regulatory bodies, just as the 9-11 attacks took place under the nose of our defense agencies, etc. And in every single case, all we see are calls for increased government involvement. Not only do we get “calls” we get massive intrusions and a ratcheting up of the power of government. Tell me one other institution were the buck is passed and failure is rewarded more regularly? In any case, the record of the FDA has been exemplary. The amount of food contamination is remarkably small. I do not attribute that to the FDA, but if they wish to take credit, so be it. The point is, we do not have anything resembling a food safety crisis on our hands.
  2. If this egg contamination is evidence that the FDA should have its authority expanded (what do they want, government agents up the arse of every hen?), then please someone tell me what would ever be grounds for a decreasing of the power and authority or the FDA for that matter. The reality is, there will few if any state congregationalists that will even feign an answer. If anything that goes wrong is evidence that the state needs more power, and there is nothing that can be demonstrated to allow for a reduction in state power, then the ratcheting of government control over our lives will only continue. The deck is stacked, like it has been for centuries. And sadly the richer we are, the less we seem to be aware of it.

    So, let’s offer what should be a politically acceptable proposition: every time an agency is created, or an existing agencies pushes to have its powers expanded, then at the same time, a set of conditions and rules must be laid out for the unraveling of said powers or the diminution of other authorities when certain conditions are met. But we will never see that happen.

3 Responses to “Stacked Deck”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    It’s great posts like this that keep me reading every day, well-done! I’ll link to this tomorrow.

  2. Harry says:

    Several New Jersey Governors ago Congressman Jim Florio got elected.

    One of his first bold proposals was to ban eggs not cooked to a hard center in New Jersey restaurants.

    Local television news people referred to this as the Governor’s outlawing runny eggs, always with a smile of ridicule going into the commercial break.

    Governor Jim got into other trouble, but he never lived down his war on eggs over easy.

    Everybody I know is careful about buying eggs. That is because our mothers taught us this. I think it is a mistake for anyone in government to treat us like our mothers’ children.

    I got salmonella once, the result of a chicken salad sandwich served by the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, then the reputed best hotel in town. The hotel would soon become famous for being the wellspring of Legionairres’ disease.

    Jim Florio could have prevented my bad sandwich, the legionairres’ disease, and many other problems had he been at the helm. OK — he would have needed today’s information technology, too, and maybe twenty or thirty billion, but he would gave kept us safe!

    Eggs Benedict, hard-center poached eggs, $23. Coffee, $8.

  3. Robert in SF says:

    Speedmaster’s link brought me here, BTW.

    Wintercow, please answer a few questions about this post and your views related to the topic it discusses:

    1. Are you blaming the FDA for not preventing this situation (the salmonella scare, not the recalls)?

    2. If so, are you then thinking that:

    They are incompetent and need their power taken away and given “back” to the industry, or

    They didn’t have the power to prevent it, and some people will make hay, as it were, and demand that the be given this “power”?

    I have worked in Quality in an FDA regulated business (pharmaceutical mfg) for 17 years. I have seen the facts and history regarding their purpose and powers.

    They are an integral aspect of the health care system we have in place and while I agree they might need some optimization of their processes and focusing of their resources to the proper points in the supply chain, they should not be eliminated. Hopefully you are calling for that. I have read an occasional post on some blogs that seem to imply that, and it strikes me as naive, ignorant, and willfully blind to reality.

    But you aren’t calling for that, I don’t think.

    I do however, like your calling for “if we say that these circumstances create an agency, then we need to define when the agencies job is done and is dissolved”! I love that concept personally. It shows real thought in getting to the reason the agency is created, their power/authority, their mission. Nice.

    Perhaps you could post a pilot-study, as it were, (an example of your own choosing) for an agency you do believe in. I mean, you do see the necessity of some of the government agencies, right? Maybe the Copyright Office, for example?

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