Saturday, September 04, 2010

What Crabby Said

One of the blogs I visit daily is Ronni Bennett's Time Goes By. Her blog details "what it's really like to get older", and does so with humor, scathing commentary, and, on occasion, outrage. She has recruited a wonderful crew of elders to post with her, but my favorite posts are inevitably those written when Ronni dons the cloak of her "Crabby Old Lady" persona to skewer some situation or group which has mistakenly assumed that older people of our culture are easy targets.

Crabby made another appearance this past Thursday in a post titled Fear of Food. Written with the massive egg recall in mind, the post takes a good hard look at the food peddled for our consumption and the dangers of indulging in a past time we all, regardless of our age, indulge in: eating.

There are already a lot of things Crabby Old Lady doesn't eat. After E. coli was found in packaged spinach four years ago, she stopped using packaged vegetables – leafy ones, roots, herbs, anything. If they aren't loose, she doesn't buy them; those sealed plastic bags are perfect petri dishes for growing nasty, disease-bearing bacteria.

Crabby isn't much of a beef eater, but a couple of times a year she craves a big, fat hamburger with all the fixings on a toasted bun. No more; Crabby hasn't eaten one for years because it's not a burger to her if it's not medium rare and there are too many, regularly-occurring recalls due to E. coli. - just three weeks ago, one million pounds were recalled. ...

Whenever there is a new, widespread outbreak of food-borne illness, government agencies go all religious on us about inspections – for a short while. But imagine how long it takes for eight-foot piles of chicken manure to build up and where were the USDA, DOA, etc. - the agencies responsible for the safety of the food supply - during that time?

Could this be a political issue? Undoubtedly, giant agribusinesses have lobbyists in Washington, but even politicians who want to kill Social Security wouldn't trade food safety for campaign donations. Would they?

Crabby's question is clearly rhetorical, since we all know the answer to that one. Of course they would, but that's only half the problem. During the extended aftermath of 9/11, someone fussed that one target of the terrorists might be our food supply, and we would all be DOOMED! The terrorists needn't bother. Our own government is perfectly capable of doing the job without any further assistance.

It's not just the Congress critters who are on the payroll of the agribusinesses and other megacorps. Regulatory agencies (part of the Executive Branch) have been stocked by presidents eager to reward supporters with cushy jobs. Appointees to those agencies also see the job they've been hired to do as a mere stepping stone to an even more lucrative position with the companies they've been hired to keep an eye on, so that eye often blinks.

Evidence of those blinks (or winks) have piled up over the last decade, from mining disasters to oil spills and explosions on rigs and platforms, from automobile recalls to food recalls. In nearly every case, the disasters could have been prevented if the federal regulatory had done what they were designed to do, enforce the regulations composed to protect the American public.

I guess the concept that the government should "promote the general welfare" has gone out of fashion, which is both shameful and criminal.

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