Sunday, February 22, 2009


There are always many defenders of predator state action. And, relatively speaking, it hasn't taken them long to address Peanut Corp. of America, the FDA and what ought to be done about poisoned food. The solution is no solution. Leave it be.

With the case of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, being predatory is natural. It's opinion on the salmonella scandal is simple to grasp. It's only a little food-poisoning and let the markets take care of it.

Even more simply, it's OK for businesses to kill and sicken customers. Those acceptable losses will condemn a company to oblivion. No regulation necessary.

Except that's not really what has happened in the last two years. If you read yesterday's post, you know that during the last two years, predator state action by inaction ensured that the market never really got around to finishing off bad companies which killed and sickened people and pets.

A predator states doesn't allow change. It gets in the way of business. So this is exactly the policy the WSJ recommends.

"For any business thinking of cheating on quality to save a few bucks, here are some famous last words: Peanut Corporation of America," opines the Journal.

"Within weeks of linking the salmonella outbreak to contamination at its facilities, PCA's plants have shut down, its customers have fled, and the company has filed for bankruptcy protection. Civil lawsuits have been filed across the country."

This rather oversimplifies a complicated story. Apparently, PCA had been burying positive salmonella lab reports in its manufacturing for two years. And many of its "customers" didn't realize they were because they didn't actually know where the peanut ingredients in their products ultimately came from. And this is why the FDA is still going about the business of finding out what things still need to be removed from store shelves. Indeed, some of the companies with products included in the recall have gone out of business faster than Peanut Corp. because their sources of revenue were condemned.

"So much for cheating on product quality and getting away with it," claims the journal. "Yet such behavior is also the exception in the food industry, as the relatively rare examples of disease show," it continues equably, implying the fob that's now used whenever one of these scandals crops up: US food is the safest in the world!

Keep thinking that.

"But it's nuts to think any kind of reasonable inspection regime can make the food supply safer than it already is," jokes the journal. Ha-ha. It's nuts.

"Taxpayers can't afford to hire enough inspectors to guarantee the safety of the entire food chain. Meanwhile, such a regime will raise costs for law-abiding companies and consumers."

Translation: It's bad -- nuts -- for business to have food inspected more closely and for teeth to be put into regulations. But taxpayers can always afford to pay for more border guards, security men to put illegal immigrants in holding cells, and material and widgets for the war on terror.

"The best food-safety enforcement tool is the one now being wielded against PCA and [Stewart Parnell] in the form of corporate self-destruction ... Their fate ... will do more to enforce food safety standards than any army of inspectors."

OK! The lessons from the predator state recommender are twofold: If you're going to cut corners and abuse customers in search of profit, make sure you're poisoned stuff doesn't quite kill anyone. And the freedom of the predator state to carry on as usual is worth the theoretical sacrifice of businesses that occasionally kill people nationwide. (See here.)

The next no solution bit posed as a solution comes from Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an economist who was once a someone at the Dept. of Labor during the Bush administration but who now flits from one far-right think tank (the Manhattan Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute) to another. She has written numerous opinions for Reuters and the New York Sun, and they touch all the proper predator state bases.

Labor expert who's anti-labor. Check. Keep propping up the anti-union government toadies to us in Colombia. Check. Hey, there's no recession! Check. We must do away with the income tax. Check. Prays to the image of Grover Norquist. Check. Opposed to national health care reform. Check. (See here.)

Furchtgott-Roth's recommendations, like those of the WSJ, are simple.

"What can be done?" she asks.

Well, first, toss a relatively minor sum of money at FDA. $500 million. Compared to the money being tossed around in the stimulus and bailout packages to fix other failed institutions, it's virtually insignifcant.

The other is to turn the potential for poisoned food into a business opportunity, sort of like the war on terror has been for the government and private sector.

Although Furchtgott-Roth doesn't mention it, it's similar to the way a substantial part of the US Department of Homeland Security does its job. It is a conduit for the transfer of funds to businesses and operations which are claimed to furnish something, whether these somethings have any value or not, for the war on terror.

"Another alternative is to authorize private companies to inspect food, along the lines of Underwriters Laboratories for electrical appliances or kosher certification for food," she writes.

And we see how very well this might theoretically work with the example of Peanut Corp. of America. Positive lab tests for salmonella contamination discarded.

"Rather than inspecting food producers, the FDA would check that the independent organizations were doing a good job," wrote Furchtgott-Roth. Seriously. Here.

For an example of Unusual Babbling Poopery in column writing on national security business, see Las Vegas white lady goes to local terror fusion center show and is delighted.

Excerpts, nope, not manufactured:

"Of course, you must have faith in the competence of the people using [anti-terrorism] gadgets, and when Las Vegas police Detective Douglas Huffmaster showed off the equipment and enthusiastically explained what it could do, it was as comforting as macaroni and cheese."

"My favorite was the $60,000 gizmo that looked like a black boom box."

"And [the yellow gizmo] was not just for acts of terrorism. A woman with Alzheimer's had a suspicious container and wasn't sure what was in it. Turns out it was nitric acid, not something she should be holding onto."

"This center isn't just about boys and their toys."

"The center is about computers, people and gizmos. Not a water board in sight."

"I like '24' because it makes me feel safer ..."

"But the fusion center, the people and the gizmos, reassured me that when there's a shooting at Virginia Tech or bombings in Mumbai, India, there are talented and equipped people in Las Vegas looking for that Las Vegas link, if there is one."

"Next time I'm covering a big political event, I'll be looking around for the gizmos and people ..."


Anonymous Deleted troll said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:23 PM  
Blogger George Smith said...

Link in above deleted post is a make-money-fast site.

2:13 PM  

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