The Dangers of Food Safety

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An older article, though still valid and valuable.  When we mix government with safety regulation, we slow down technology to the detriment of our own health–the opposite of what many people want the FDA to do.  I would compare this with vehicle safety standards set forth by the government.  I’ll discuss that later.

The Dangers of Food Safety
by Patrick Weinert

Agriculture Secretary Daniel Glickman has been deeply troubled by perceived problems with America’s food supply. In a meeting with the Senate Agricultural Committee last fall, Glickman urged lawmakers to approve legislation which would give his department more enforcement authority over cases of contaminated meat and poultry. Among other provisions, he demanded that the department be able to impose fines of $100,000 per day on violators of meat-processing regulations. “I think we can come down a little more strongly on the side of the consumer,” the secretary told senators.

Regardless of whether Mr. Glickman’s utilitarian cost-benefit analysis would stand up to objective scrutiny, the recent surge in concern about food safety is real. The frequency of illnesses has progressively received more attention, giving “consumer groups” an excuse to push more government programs and regulations to protect the public. Officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture say meat-packers have too much power and bureaucrats have too little.

Far from being a result of careless meat-packers or a lack of regulatory oversight, the current food safety crisis has mainly been caused by the federal government’s own notorious Food and Drug Administration. While it has been clamoring for more activism in the name of “public health,” the FDA only last December legalized radiation pasteurization for red meat, a process which has proven to be effective in killing poisonous bacteria.

This process, in which the meat is exposed to low dosages of radiation, can reduce the amount of bacteria (called “pathogens”) in flesh foods by over 90 percent. Don Thayer of the Department of Agriculture has demonstrated that this process has been most successful against the pathogens E. coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes. Thayer also argues that the years of experience in the irradiation of other foods shows the process to be very safe and to leave the nutritional value of the food unchanged.

Consumers are not even able to detect a difference in taste when sampling both irradiated and non-irradiated products. Yet, the FDA required an additional three years of research before agreeing to legalize this process, claiming that manufacturing safety must take first priority.

This policy approach is very disturbing, especially since the irradiation procedure has been used for years and proven to be both safe and effective. Over 30 years ago, the FDA approved its use for wheat products and potatoes, and then extended it to spices and vegetable seasonings in 1983. Three years later, pork and meat-based animal foods were given approval, and poultry followed in 1990. Irradiation was not legalized for use in preparing red meat until December 3, 1997, more than seven years after all other foods had received approval, and more than three years after the petition for its legalization was presented. The FDA is one of the loudest advocates for food safety, but it turns out to be one of the largest obstacles.

How does one explain this paradox? After the irradiation process was approved for all other foods, why were three more years of research necessary to approve ground beef? Furthermore, why was more research required for red meat when the FDA already approved irradiation for all astronaut food, including steak?

George Pauli of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition claims that while irradiation may potentially provide great advances in enhancing the safety of ground beef, such anticipated benefits must play no role in determining the length of time needed to research the procedure. At first glance, this statement sounds altruistic. But it essentially means that FDA officials know the “optimal” moment at which a new food process or drug should become available. Those who suffer or die as a result while waiting for the new technology are simply unfortunate casualties in the calculus for greater safety.

Meat-packers see great profitability in radiation pasteurization as well, since the reduction of foodborne bacteria also reduces lawsuits and costly recalls from retail stores and restaurants.

Yet from August 25, 1994, until December 3, 1997, the FDA would not approve of radiation treatment for red meat and meat-based products. While leading the public to believe that it was seeking greater safety, in reality the FDA only succeeded in preventing many Americans from protecting themselves against foodborne poisonous bacteria.

In addition, numerous meat-packers continued to be plagued by the high cost of food recalls, costs which could easily have been avoided if the process had been legal. In 1993, hamburger meat contaminated with the E. coli bacteria was responsible for the notorious “Jack-in-the-Box” disease outbreak. In the Pacific Northwest four children died and 700 others became sick, some suffering permanent brain and kidney damage. And last summer, the largest meat-recall in the history of the nation was conducted by Hudson Foods, Incorporated, when sixteen people in Colorado became sick after eating ground beef patties infected with E. coli. The return of 25 million pounds of hamburger meat to Hudson brought the company’s quarterly earnings down by 30 percent and cost the company its largest customer, Burger King.

Contaminated food in the United States has been responsible for roughly 9,000 deaths each year and between 6.5 million and 33 million cases of illness. According to the FDA’s own estimates, the E. coli bacteria alone is responsible for 250 deaths and 20,000 infections annually. Yet the spread of foodborne illness is largely preventable so long as meat processors are permitted to use the newest technologies. While government leaders are the first to demand new regulations to enhance food safety, the government’s own foot-dragging bureaucrats are largely responsible for the problem. This three-year delay for the approval of irradiation has literally resulted in thousands of avoidable deaths and cases of illness.

Considering the manner in which the FDA has been established, it probably should not be a surprise how long it takes for new technologies and drugs to receive approval. Regulators consider only the dangers of side effects in food-handling processes, and the danger in ruining their own reputations. Those in danger of suffering or death take the real risk as new technologies which could help them are withheld for relatively trivial reasons.

However, the most disturbing fact about the agency is the current predatory control to which it has been subjected. Although it was originally trumpeted as the guardian of consumer safety, today it has openly become a great tool for special interests. This was demonstrated by last year’s Congressional debate over the proposed Access to Medical Treatment Act, a bill designed to loosen FDA regulations on alternative medicine. Members of both political parties who opposed the bill received almost $4 million in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals, and other members of organized medicine.

What Americans are currently witnessing in the Food and Drug Administration is nothing more than a well-publicized charade. The regulators who clamor for more government programs to provide greater food safety are, in fact, the ones who benefit most from a retarded discovery process. Until the public recognizes that the FDA is the very source of the problem, the current crusade for food safety will continue to move at an anemic pace. Real safety lies in informed decision-making by the individual. If the federal government truly desires greater efficiency in screening the food supply, the best step would be a loosening of its regulatory choke-hold on the development of new technologies.

Who has a stronger incentive to truly protect the consumer? Producers in the market whose livelihoods depend on it? Or bureaucrats in Washington who are utterly disconnected from the market process and easily manipulated by special interests?

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16 thoughts on “The Dangers of Food Safety

  1. With my experience from having worked in the food industry for 30 years and from having an extensive background in auditing and examining the food safety practices in hundreds of food plants across the US and internationally, I can clearly state that the Producers in the Marketplace may have the incentive, but not the standards to protect the consumer.

    In location after location, I found the food safety standards set by the food producers were set at the level of the existing “government regulations” in place. In the many years I was in this position of authority to ensure food safety for some of the largest food companies in the US, we found a significant number of locations where the producers did even know nor clearly follow minimum standards. The team of Food Safety and Quality inspectors that I directed found case after case, in year after year, of food producers that did not even adhere to ‘minimum government standards’ to ensure public safety. We either dropped them or gave them warnings to rectify the situation. But they still did business. (even if we dropped them)

    Also recognize that food producers have MBA business managers and MBA marketing managers that know nothing (or very little) of food safety. They hired professionals such as myself, trained in food regulations (yes set by the FDA and the USDA) and degreed and trained in food safety at major universities to set food safety standards. However, the focus of these food producers was consistently on making money over assuring food safety.

    Anyone who thinks that food producers would ensure public food safety without the well designed government regulations for food safety is not founded in the real world. It is a “bubble world” thought.

    MBA’s managers in the marketplace are out for money. They produce to whatever standard they could get away with. One should read Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” to see what real world food producers actually did for years and years in the US (in the meat industry) until the first Government Laws and subsequently the FDA and USDA was established. (Do you want to hear the story of the MBA supervisor instructing his employee to shovel butter spilt onto the floor from a leaking pipe on the packaging line to save production efficiency that day? It’s one of hundreds of stories. Oh ya, He had public safety in mind! LOL)

    One should also reflect on the story of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. This river was toxic and supported no life for decades. The river would catch on fire by itself. Emptying into Lake Erie, life in the lake also disappeared. Hello ? Did the Steel Companies MBA managers care about public safety? Welcome to the real world.
    The EPA regulations on water standards for safety changed life in Cleveland. The Steel Mills, bent on making money for decades COULD NOT ADAPT TO PROTECTING THE PUBLIC BY REDUCING TOXIC WASTE DUMPING. The Steel Mills went out of business once the government set water standards to protect the public. Eventually, the Cuyahoga river had life and fish return. Lake Erie rebounded with awesome Walleye fishing. DID THE CARING PRODUCERS IN THE MARKET MAKE THIS HAPPEN OR DID THE GOVERNMENT STEP UP TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC?

    I have lots and lots of stories about Food Safety. My food industry career life has provided the insight into food manufacturing practices, into management incentives, into food safety practices that could NOT have been established and would not have been established without the backing, creation and enforcement of the FDA and the USDA. Any suggestion by idealists thinking we would be better off without them are just not founded in reality.

    Confusing ‘bureaucrats’ in Washington with the professionals in the FDA and the USDA is misleading. The real issue is more a result of placing non professional individuals in Washington over these institutions.

    I was familiar with the development and testing of the Irradiation process. There is much more to say about the delays in rolling this technology out to the public. The article David refers to does not begin to present the real story. Unfortunate that this could be used as an example of the FDA inefficiencies. It is a bad example and should in no way default the value of FDA regulations. (or food laws in place)

    The ones who are ‘utterly disconnected’ in all this talk are those who don’t understand the food industry, the drug industry and the manufacturing industry. Public safety is NOT a priority by those in charge. They think of making the green dollar first, and second and third…Welcome to the real world….

  2. @kgpoko

    You have correctly pointed out that market regulations are replaced by government regulations with the introduction of the FDA. You have also pointed out even with the FDA, they can’t do much to effectively stop food production that doesn’t meet their standards.

    Here we have it, the FDA attempting the impossible: Trying to ensure that every bit of food produced and consumed in the US is perfectly safe. Like many gradiose ideas that rely on taking away individual rights in order to reach, it is immoral and does not work.

    You have mostly spoken to the impracticality of not having an overlord agency protecting us from eating harmful foods, so I will try to also focus most of my response on the practical problems with the FDA. However, I would be ignoring the most important reason that the FDA shouldn’t exist. The FDA violates property rights. No one has the right to prevent me (through the use of violence) from voluntary trade with another person who is also doing so voluntarily.

    As for the practical, if you are going to compare what it is like today to have the FDA to what it would be like if the FDA doesn’t exist, you have to acknowledge the comparison and contrast between the two systems. In the current system, we have the FDA regulating food safety and we also have consumers who help regulate the industry (currently). In a free market, the consumers are the sole regulators over the market.

    “How in the world does a consumer regulate a market?”, you might ask. Well, without consumers, food producers lose money. So there is a natural dependency of the food producers to have a buyer on the other end of the transaction for their own financial well being. Those food producers that best judge the consumers’ wants and that most efficiently bring those products to market are rewarded. To release poisonous food would be the death knell for a food producer in a free market, especially in the internet age.

    Why do you think that our food today is generally safe? It seems that you give credit to the FDA. I give much more credit to the market (the part that is left). You seem to assume that people would be producing poisonous food all over the place if it weren’t for the FDA, and I just don’t buy it. I wouldn’t buy food from a company that had released harmful products recently. Mothers wouldn’t purchase food for their children that was from a company that had released harmful food. Come on… The real reason that most of our food is safe is because people will stop buying from companies that produce harmful food.

    That being said, regulation comes with a cost. Every regulation has some sort of cost to become compliant. A system that regulates only according to what the consumers value is the best system, because it eliminates regulations that stand between the wants of the consumer and the ability to profitably produce for the producer.

    People don’t need a nanny state to survive, no matter how many bureaucrats tell you otherwise.

    • Let’s not mix up be bureaucrats with “Gov Food Safety Standards”. So what is unsafe food? What is contaminated food? What is adulterated food? What level of Salmonella is safe? What level of E Coli is safe? Are all levels of different e coli the same? What about safe and unsafe levels of Staph Aureus? Then there are Lysteria bacteria levels – What is unsafe? Then what tests should be used to test for these food borne illness bacteria? Then how often should we test? Then how much adulteration of food is acceptable? How do we test for that? When do we test for that? Who tests for that? Then we talk of contamination such as chemicals in foods? What are unsafe chemicals? What tests should be done to test for contamination? Who tests, when, how and so on and so on…

      Oh ya, let’s have mom and pop test when and how and whenever and what ever… Or mr smith or mr jones or mr xyz set the standard for testing and determining unsafe, contaminated, or adulterated food. Oh ya. That will work in the bubble world that is emerging (bubble as seeing a distortion of realty) Are we unravelling in our thought process yet?

      It is so easy to slam the Gov and the bureaucrats and miss the point. We need those ‘Gov Standards” defining safe, unadulterated contaminated foods. We need a standard body to provide how and what to test. We need standards of when to test (as in how many per how many made) And ,We need to enforce the standards (oh my, is that a Gov role to protect _ NOT IN BUBBLE WORLD).

      Or we can let mr jones and mr smith set all this up and figure it out. Surly the news and internet will clean up the problems. Well, how would we even find the problems. We would disagree on what the tests are and when to test and how to test. Mr jones would claim he tests once a day ( with a million pounds of food goin out his door!) Oh my this is soo confusing…

      Then we can say it is sooo confusing so let’s just drop all the standards, blow up the FDA and USDA and all the regulations. The internet today will protect us… (Welcome to bubble world)….
      By the way , what about labeling. Oh my, that is another FDA “Gov Standard”!!! Mr jones and mom and pop can control what to put on a label. They don need no stinkin gov rules. We will just ‘EXPOSE’ them – if and when someone tests the ingredients per what is on the label.

      Oh ya, here are a couple or labeling stories to help up see the real world. Banquet Pot Pies ( they have been around for 50 years ) had a spiffy Marketing MBA look to save money and increase his bonus as he was over that product line….Sooo, they cut back on the amount of Chicken in Chicken Pot Pies. Lo and behold, the dreaded GOV USDA said it was decieving the public and had to be named “Gravey wtih Chicken Pot Pies” LOL. Get the picture?
      Who cares? Not food safety issue but yet another example of the big bad gov who sets food standards and actually tests and confirms what is in foods.

      Oh ya, let’s not get started on pesticides. No let’s not. Let’s not give credit to the FDA or USDA for the safe food supply. It is all due to the incentive of mr jones and mr smith. Ya. Right. People in the food industry in developing countries all around the world are laughing at the nonsense coming out of this talk.

      • kgpoko, you are obviously quite enamored of government regulation and have zero faith that the free market can do a better job. It is definitely your right to hold that opinion, and I haven’t seen anyone here mocking your views or accusing you of living in a “bubble world”, although it is my personal opinion that your complete faith in the goodness of government is more utopian than the staunchest libertarian’s belief in the free market.

        You can comment on any public blog you want to, but I think it’s quite clear that the author of this blog believes in liberty. If you hold a different view and want to discuss it, you’d have more success if you treat those who hold a different view with a little more respect.

  3. Why is it necessarily true that an MBA’s desire to maximize the company’s bottom line means reckless abandonment for the quality and safety of their product? Is it really one or the other? Are all profitable companies doing so by cutting corners? Hiding lead in their walls? Mercury in their soil? THIS bubble world, MBA idealist would argue that producers are going to have different standards of quality with or without governmental control. Some will choose to have self-imposed, extremely high standards on their own and if their MBA teams are smart, they’ll market and publicize their standards to cater to the customers that actually care. Others will cater to clients that want things cheap, even if it means lower standards.

    Your Upton Sinclair argument is typical of the scare tactics used by proponents of greater government controls because through today’s lenses, it’s unimaginable for us to go back to those times. Your explanation of our social progress to date is a result of government experts telling us what’s broken and how to fix it. You assume that unless we have the muscle of the federal government behind “keeping us safe”, there’s no incentive for anyone to do so freely.

    I would argue that if you look at how 3rd world countries today are rapidly improving their quality of living by entering into the global marketplace, it has everything to do with the creation of wealth and national productivity – not government standards. As society starts to create wealth, our standards and expectations also become more demanding. Government controls only slow the natural process.

    The biggest difference between the world we live in today vs. even just 20 years ago is the availability of global, instantaneous information. This has given both producers and consumers incredible empowerment to make informed choices. I once heard Thomas Friedman speak about his book “the World is Flat” which I’m dying to get to eventually. I don’t agree with everything he’s written or said, but one point he made was that we live in an unprecedented age of information exchange and that the barriers of communication have pretty much all disappeared. If there’s a producer selling cheap goods, the word quickly spreads and people looking for a bargain flock to them. If there’s a company producing 100% recycled waste furniture, consumers that value sustainable development will seek them out. If someone’s home grown organic farm has built a reputation of quality and flavor, consumers will show their support with their wallets.

    The real world is actually moving away from trusting ivory tower, centralized thinkers and toward grass roots information and exchange.

    • A few considerations:
      – First is the establishment of ‘Gov Standards’ in both the US and in the rest of the world, specifically in the area of Public Safety around food and drugs (my expertise)… I have worked with the UN WHO and along with the USDA in establishing Public Safety regulations in the Mid East as part of the US-SA Joint Economic Commission. It was clearly identified as a major and critical step to put ‘gov standards’ for food and drug safety in place as quickly as possible in developing countries.
      This ‘natural process’ that you refer to is what I call a ‘Bubble world’ perspective in the assumption that somehow this would occur without direct gov intervention. Wrong. The world having “instantaneous information” has NOT changed the business environment whereby wherever there is a lack of basic food and drug “gov standards’, there is chaos. The real world is NOT moving away from this idea of we don’t need public safety standards. I totally disagree when it comes to real world, 3 world and developing world business environments.
      – Second is (in my words) the MBA management’s desire to maximize the bottom line over food safety. Again, my expertise and experience is across the US in hundreds of Food Manufacturers and across the world with a special amount of experience in the Mid East. Again this is a ‘bubble world’ idea of how the news will drive technical decisions. Of course, public exposure to incidents is more immediate and impactfull than ever before. You are confusing the news with business decisions and cost justification to make any sort of changes! But what I have seen over and over and over, is the gap of understanding from the MBA management (my words again) vs the technical aspects of what kind of ‘controls’ to put in place to control food safety. Over and over, the bottom line cuts decisions to make changes. The major reason, by far, is to consider if the technical change is required or not to meet ‘Gov standards’. No gov standards , well, no changes! (This is the real world).
      _Third is the confusion with Gov muscle vs the professional scientists and doctors who work for the Gov. These professionals are suddenly part of the problem. Oh my. This idea of yours reminds me of the cleansing of the intellectuals in China after Mao came on board. You miss entirely the value and benfit of using the professionals to set the standards vs allowing the marker and the internet to set the standards. This is another bubbl world thought. Google any scientiic topic. You will find dozens of articles, some right about the topic, some not so right and a whole bunch not even close. So you would propose in the world of liberty that the business owner should decide over the scientist? I have been in that situation, involved with the Marketing and the Operations and the Finance officers at all levels. We are talking about a technical competence gap. This will NOT be bridged by the idea or notion that wrong mistakes will be weeded out. We are taling public safety. The trial is the public marketplace? Hello i think not. Consider the world of drugs. Shoud the MBA operations or marketing or worse yet the financing guy decide on the protocal for when to release a new drug or should there be some “Gov Standards” to regulate the process. (Certainly not in the bulbble world you propose).

      -Forth is ‘scare tactics’ of the Sinclair book. It was a part of the old age way of communicating social issues. (now replaced by the net). It raises such a roar in the public, that congress made laws to protect the Gov. Hello, isn’t that why we elect them. The elected officials authorized the FDA to enforce the laws. Hello, is that part of the process in the world or should be ban the elected officals from protecting the public? Wait that is why we elected them ( I am so confused by this bubble world )
      Recognize there would have been NO change. Even today, There would be NO changes in food and drug manufacturing without laws protecting the public . You are just not seeing the real world, but a vision of a land that does not exist. I can share story after story after story, from the 70’s 80′ 90’s and in the 00’s about how MBA managers cut corners and didn’t even have controls per basic ‘Gov Food Safety Standards”. And you seem to think a blurp on the internet will make them change? Hellooo it is not working. If you read the article closely about the FDA that started your blog, the FDA was asking for a $100K fine per day as punishment BECAUSE THE FOOD MANUFACTURER DID NOT AGREE TO PAY THE $$ TO CHANGE FOOD PROCESSING TO ELIMINATE CONTAMINATING THE PUBLIC WITH THEIR FOOD. The FDA was like a judge condeming a criminal and then not being able to punish them. That is a loophole! You missed this major point. Your concept of the media today has changed and if we get the story out there, surely the MBA managers will make the changes. Hellooo. That article reference of asking for a fine to stop a manufacturer from selling unsafe food is about a current situation!! It didn’t happen today and it wont happen without Gov standards.
      -Fifth is the developing countries ARE seeking to establish public FOOD SAFETY standards AS GOV STANDARDS, NOT MANUFACTURING MBS STANDARDS. China in the early 2000s aske YUM to set them up with visits to the FDA so they could establish, YES THOSE DESPISED BY THE BUBBLE WORLD GOV STANDARDS TO PROTEC THE PUBIC. You can argue, well they didnt have this internet and public reaction. Hello this is the real world. It applies in country after country after country. I can ramble on about 3rd world issue with public safety as a result of missing Gov Standards’ to protec the public, but I’ve said enough.
      I think there are diminishing returns here. I think the gap in realizing the importance to have ‘gov standards’ to protect the public will not be realized here and that this idealistic bubble world concept is taken hold by a host of young followers that have surfaced under the profound principles of Ron Paul. I will side with the Real World and watch this ideology play out and fizzle out. Scarry how some wisdom comes you you in your later days. You will see what I mean when you get aged like me lol…..

  4. I personally don’t trust government agencies to protect my family’s health and safety. Here in Wisconsin, I have witnessed dairy farmers harassed to no end in the fight to provide the public with healthy raw milk. It’s clear when you witness it first hand that the government is very motivated to protect the dairy industry at the expense of the consumer.

    Another problem is that the influence of government affects all of our health. Ask yourself, if the true motivation of government is the health and safety of all Americans, why don’t organic vegetables and fruits get the largest government subsidies? If you look at who gets the most money, it’s obvious that citizens’ health is not the main motivation. If you’re interested in improving the quality of your diet, you pretty much have to spend a lot and avoid anything that’s government subsidized, or produce your own and avoid the whole system altogether, and even that is made more difficult by regulations. If you do that, don’t even think about selling the safe, healthy food you produce to your friends and neighbors–that’s illegal.

    I don’t accept the idea that government’s only motive is altruism, while business-owners are motivated by greed. Governments and their agents are as motivated by greed as anyone else, and they get paid whether consumers are injured or not, unlike business-owners who will quickly be driven out of business if they produce a faulty product. It’s not a utopian idea to think that the free market can do a better job of protecting consumers than government can. While there is no perfect system, I believe liberty is the best possible option.

  5. It is truly a utopian idea to think that the free market can do a better job protecting consumers than government standards and government enforcement of those standards. I call it the bubble world view, a distortion of reality.

    I spent my early career working for Land o Lakes in the role of assuring food safety for products out of their largest dairy in the US. My supervisor was a previous dairy farmer out of Wisconsin. We had lots of stories around contaminated milk. Lots and lots of stories.

    Don’t confuse the dreaded “Gov Standards” with the congressional subsidies supporting the dairy industry. You can’t lump them together ( or you can and then you are all confused on the issue of protecting the public from contaminated, adulterated , unsafe foods.)

    We have the safest food supply system in the world as a result of the FDA and USDA. Those living in this ‘bubble world’ as a result are now claiming that this condition would have come about as a result of farmer john and bill and joe – They are the business owners who will ensure non contaminated non adulterated and foods free of harmful bacteria. RIGHT!

    Oh my. We are distorting myth with reality. Just think about what to test who will test when will they test how much will they test. Do you really believe that farmer john or joe or bill (or plant manger fred or tom or fred) will ensure safe foods?
    Hello, mr liberty uber alles, you have a distorted understanding of our food chain, our history of contaminated foods ( still unfolding) of Gov Standards and enforcement all bundled up with liberty ???

    Make no mistake. I am all for dramatically reducing the size of the government. I am not for losing sight of reality when it comes to the Gov role to protect the population in our foods. Let the professionals continue their ongoing successful roles and attack the rest of the big gov.

    • kgpoko, we were obviously posting at the same time, so I’ll refer you to my comment on your previous post.

      Also, if you want government to regulate everything that goes into our mouths, I’m not sure exactly what part of big government it is that you want to reduce the size of. It is a little bit suspect when you say we need to reduce the size of government, and yet you vehemently defend the part of big government that you benefit from financially.

      • I didn’t work for the Big Gov. I worked in private industry. I worked with programs sponsored by the USDA and FDA. I worked in programs that had FDA consultants, but it was all out of the private sector. What I did see from this perspective was the greed from management in this industry over ride decisions to protect the public safety over and over by cutting corners and staff that was focused on testing food products. We saw sharp increases in funding to increase staff to examine foods AFTER incidents occurred in the industry. LOL.
        The same greed factor to make money exists as in the banking industry. The claims are made in the name of liberty that these managers can and should be able to make the decisions to protect the public vs having some Gov Watchdog (FDA & USDA). Real world experience across the globe proves this does not work. The public needs a watchdog in the food and drug industry.

        I am defending the right of the Gov to protect the people from unsafe, adulterated, contaminated foods and drugs. We are seeing a rise of libertarians calling for cutting all gov programs. I believe this bandwagon has some flaws when we attack the FDA and USDA, which has as focus to protect the public. Every other gov program is fair game to cut.

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  7. kgpoko, you seem to have the misconception that libertarians (or free-market anarchists, which is probably what I could be classified as) don’t care about food safety standards. I care as much as anyone else about protecting the public from contaminated food, but I believe it is possible for the free market to perform that function. For example, I would prefer to see someone like you, who has expertise in food safety, starting a private company which would set standards and certify food producers without any government involvement. Underwriters Laboratories is one example I think of where a private organization sets independent standards and because of their reputation, businesses want to have their products tested and approved so they can advertise that they are “UL Approved”.

    One thing that confuses me is the different standards people sometimes apply to government agencies and private individuals. For example, you are distrustful of business owners who skimp on food safety to make a profit, but you seem to believe that people who work for the government couldn’t possibly engage in the same kind of corruption. I believe both groups of people are equally capable of corruption because they are human beings, therefore I do not want to give power over my life and safety to either group. I don’t see that as living in a bubble, I think it’s firmly grounded in reality.

  8. Every minute of every day, each one of us makes choices. Not only must we make countless choices, but we must also *prioritize* which choices are most important to us to make – simply because of scarcity. We have limited time, money, natural resources and attention spans. For example, it’s critical to me that I choose what my children will learn today in school. I’m almost indifferent to the brand of gasoline I put in my car because I usually just go to the closest station.

    Everyone has a hot button priority whether it’s recycling, music education, physical activity, wealth creation, spirituality, charity, vanity, or being the first to own the Ipad 4. We can’t possibly meet everyone’s #1 priority. To suggest that your priority is more important than someone else’s, (even under the guise of it being for their own good), is arrogant at best. At worst, it’s degrading to our humanity and outright tyranny.

    It’s clear, kgpoko, that food safety is the utmost, critically important choice in your world — so much so, that you don’t trust anyone other than the scientific experts, armed with the muscle of government coercion, to protect us all. No matter what the cost, there’s no convincing you of any room for choice.

    In business, it’s not that simple. Safety and quality are important, but there are many other factors that businesses have to consider, otherwise they won’t BE in business for very long. They have to balance priorities like employee benefits, neighborhood / community relationships, vendor relationships, competition, research and product development, legal liability, customer satisfaction, and yes, profitability.

    I won’t comment on all of your anti-MBA rant other than to say that not all MBAs are Finance Majors. Many graduate with concentrations in IT Security, Coaching / Management, Sustainability, or even Hospital Care. I guess it’s easier to lump us all together into greedy poachers, but it’s not “real world”.

    I’m not sure how you got the impression that I’m against intellectuals, scientists, or even safety experts. I’m also not sure how you equate libertarians (or those that want to promote free thinking) with Mao’s cleansing. Regardless, as Tanya pointed out, I would also agree that your type of expertise is badly needed – just not in a government agency.

  9. Pingback: Free to Choose – 2.0 | txfatherofseven

  10. “God gave us the grace to accept with serenity the things that can NOT be changed, courage to try to change the things which should be changed, and the WISDOM to distinguish the one from the other”

  11. The Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer? Interesting choice. Here’s the whole text:

    God, give us grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.

    Living one day at a time,
    Enjoying one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
    Taking, as Jesus did,
    This sinful world as it is,
    Not as I would have it,
    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
    And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

    Amen.

    The author, Reinhold Niebuhr, was an American of German descent in 1943. During the height of WWII, Reinhold was an outspoken critic of the totalitarian and fascist forces threatening democratic freedom everywhere. “[The prayer] reminds us of the virtues we must call on in our private lives, and it also concerns the qualities needed to act in the intricate social networks that connect us to others.” Elisabeth Sifton (Reinhold’s daughter).

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