Monday, October 25, 2010

Last One In Is A Rotten Egg

For a bunch of people who hate government, there certainly seem to be those who want to get a job in it. Take for example a GOP congressional candidate named Jesse Kelly running in Arizona who seems to think that it’s better to let private enterprise do whatever it wants and that if they do something wrong — like poison people — the government should have no role in stepping in to stop them.

During a question-and-answer period, a voter asked Kelly about the recent salmonella outbreak, which led to recall of more than half a billion eggs.

The voter asked if Kelly, if elected, would he help pass a law that would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies to shut down companies that have too many safety violations, such as the companies that allowed millions of eggs that sickened people to be sold to the public. Kelly responded that he doesn’t “believe what we’re lacking right now is more regulations on companies,” complaining that “you could probably spit on the grass and get arrested by the federal government by now.” When the voter followed up by asking, “Who’s protecting us?” Kelly responded, “It’s our job to protect ourselves.” The exasperated voter asked once more, “Am I supposed to go to a chicken farmer and say I’d like you to close down because all of your birds are half dead?” Kelly once more answered, “There’s a new thing that comes along every day. But I know this: Every part of our economy that is regulated by the government doesn’t have fewer disasters, it has more.”

This is as good an example of both breathtaking stupidity and a fundamental lack of understanding of the basics of how how our country works as I’ve seen in this or any election cycle. The stupidity of letting an egg farmer put out half a billion rotten eggs and blaming government regulation for it is obvious. But the second part, where Mr. Kelly says, “It’s our job to protect ourselves,” proves that he doesn’t get it: we do have a way to protect ourselves. It’s a rather simple idea, really. You get a group of people together with knowledge and insight about things — like food safety, just to pick an example out of the air — and they come up with some basic rules and expectations for those people in the business of raising and selling food products to the public. After all, not everyone can tell a rotten egg just by looking at it, and there might just be some unscrupulous people out there who don’t really care if someone gets sick or dies from eating their eggs as long as they get paid for it.

I realize this might be a radical concept for someone like Mr. Kelly, but the idea of We The People getting together and forming some kind of “government,” for lack of a better term, to look out for the rest of the people and to assure them that they can buy and sell stuff without endangering lives sounds like a pretty good idea.