For the sake of permanent tax cuts for the rich, you may have to die. William Hubbard in the Boston Globe:
THOUSANDS OF pet deaths from spiked wheat gluten, raising fears that humans could be next. Millions of shipments of imported foods from China, Vietnam, and other developing countries flooding into the country each year with no inspection by US authorities. Repeated foodborne outbreaks often resulting in deaths and severe illnesses -- from US-produced spinach, sprouts, peanut butter, and other common foods. A plummeting drop in public confidence in the government's ability to protect our food supply.
The bad news about our food seems to keep on coming, and it all points to the inevitable conclusion that the Food and Drug Administration cannot provide the protections for which it was created. What has happened to this century-old consumer protection agency that has led the way in establishing a safety net for consumer products on which Americans have so long relied?
The most common thread in FDA's declining ability to carry out its responsibilities is a steady, debilitating drop in funding.
Don't worry. The market will take care of it. When enough people get sick and know what companies' products made them sick and stop buying from them and when enough stores that carry those products close and enough lawsuits are filed, then all that tainted and spoiled food will just magically vanish from the marketplace.
Except the Republican Free Marketeers want to take away your ability to sue. They call it tort reform. It's like Social Security reform. "Reform" is Republican for "screw the poor and the middle class."
Nevermind. At least on your sickbed or in your grave you'll have the satisfaction of knowing your suffering saved the rest of us a few pennies per pound on imported produce.
This is fine with them, the rich people Bush likes to call his base. His real base. Not those fruitcakes on the religious right. Not those sissy small-c conservatives who worry about fiscal responsibility.
It is fine with the base that a certain number of people have to get deathly ill, a certain number of children have to die, not just from uninspected food, but from lack of health care, unsafe working conditions, the physical and emotional wear and tear that comes from a lifetime of living and working on the edge of poverty, starvation, disease, so that they, Bush's Base, can continue to enjoy their privileges and comforts, so that they can continue to pile up money in Hefty Bags.
Oh, they don't think this is what they want, they don't think they think this is ok. They hire lawyers and accountants and other soulless henchmen, they buy up politicians, they appoint their pet judges to the bench, they co-opt and corrupt and cow journalists, and they pay them to think this way on their behalf and make and enforce the argument that the rest of us are better off when the rich get to gobble up whatever they can lay their mitts on. They pay them to do the cost-benefit analyses to figure out just how many children, other people's children, can get sick, can die, before people with consciences notice or the sleeping middle class wakes up because suddenly it's their kids who are threatened.
But they don't "think" this way themselves. They don't "think" they are like this. They think they are good. Some of them are good, within their own very narrow little precincts. They love their families, they are kind to their friends. They tip well when they go out and pay the household help a living wage. They give to good causes like Save the Children and the United Negro College Fund. They lend a hand and write a check when disaster strikes or the town needs a new firetruck or the their kids' favorite teacher gets sick or their neighbor's business goes bust. They choke up at the endings of It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. They sit in church and nod in agreement at the sermon and say their vague, inconclusive prayers in which they don't promise God anything except their own continued existence, in which they remind Him that He was right to have so favored and blessed them and they know He'll be wise enough to keep doing so.
The Bush Leaguers have poisoned and broken and just plain fucked up everything they've touched because they are an administration of flunkies. You don't get a job in that White House unless you know it's your first and only duty to see to it that nothing the Government does inconveniences Bush's base or costs them a dime they don't want to spend or makes them feel the least little bit guilty about exercising their privileges.
The supply of intelligent, talented, diligent, responsible people who would willingly devote their lives to being flunkies and making other people rich, while unfortunately not miniscule, is limited. Cheney and Rove have had to fill in all over the place with the stupid, the naive, and the desperate for work because they are incompetent, the Michael Browns and Monica Goodlings, the Tim Griffins and Douglas Feiths of the world, who can't help but poison and break and fuck-up everything they touch.
They've poisoned and broken and fucked up, and if the next President is a Republican everything that's poisoned and broken and fucked up will stay poisoned and broken and fucked up or it will get worse, and whatever's left that isn't poisoned and broken and fucked up will be poisoned and broken and fucked up.
They've made a mess everywhere, from the Smithsonian to the FDA to FEMA to the Justice Department, from New Orleans to Baghdad, and it should be the next President's job to fix it, but the Insider Media has decided that the most important issues of the upcoming election are Hillary's ambition, Bill's decades old sex scandals, John Edwards' haircuts, and Obama's middle name. They've decided that the only thing that matters about whoever is the Republican nominee is that he be a tough guy who will kill and torture all the scary Muslims who hide under the pundits' beds and in their closets.
When one of the Democrats stands up and says that this can't go on, we can't let the rich run the country this way, that we can't live in a place where the rich get to do whatever they want and the rest of us take our orders and whatever little pay the rich choose to give us and just be glad that we have cable and that tonight's dinner didn't happen to include any worrisome bacteria---well, he's just a hypocrite. If he was a true advocate for the poor, he would live poor.
No rich man has ever been a true friend of the working man and woman.
Meanwhile, they poison and break and fuck-up everything they touch:
Just as our schools cannot educate our children without teachers and fires cannot be extinguished without a fire department, our food supply cannot be inspected and monitored without the highly skilled scientists at the FDA.
What's the evidence that FDA is experiencing a budget crisis? The FDA is located in Montgomery County, Md. , a suburb of the nation's capital; the suburb's school board has a bigger budget than the FDA; the county's budget is twice that size. Ten years ago, Congress appropriated funds to support 9,100 scientists, but today there are 1,000 fewer, at a time in which the demands on the agency have grown and grown. The number of scientists at FDA's food headquarters office has dropped from 1,000 to 800 in just the past three years.
The story of the inspection force is even more troubling. After the 9/11 attacks, Tommy Thompson, then Health and Human Services secretary, demanded that the food inspection force at the nation's ports be improved, and 600 more inspectors were rapidly put in place to examine the burgeoning imports of food. Today, they are all gone, the victims of year-by-year budget cuts that cripple the agency's ability to do even rudimentary screening of our food.
So where are we today? There are 13 million food imports this year, with FDA able to inspect only about 1 percent. The system is so weak that many FDA professionals fear the word is out in the international community you can send virtually anything, of any quality, regardless of risk, to the United States, because no one's looking.