Government helps keep consumers safe

Even after years of a lassez faire ideology that allowed businesses to pillage the economy,  the idea of government intervention makes a lot of Americans nervous. In a recent Gallup poll, a majority of respondents agreed with the statement that the government currently is “trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.”

That response is partly due to essential elements of the American character, which celebrates independence, self-reliance and the pioneering spirit. It reveals a healthy strain that encourages creativity and overcome-the-odds resilience.

But the distrust of government is also due to a less healthy phenomenon — thirty years of government-bashing by conservative politicians and media personalities. Ronald Reagan’s mantra — government is the problem, not the answer — has become an all-serving ideology in certain precincts on the right.

Happily, none of that has interfered with a logical and long-needed restoration of government regulation in consumer products. While the controversies over major domestic policy initiatives — health care reform, regulation of Wall Street, an energy bill — have dominated headlines and airwaves, a small platoon of President Obama’s appointees have been quietly getting back in the business of regulating toys, swimming pool drains and herbal supplements, among many other items. Agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission —  which made placating industry its focus during the Bush years—  are back in business.

The restoration of consumer protections didn’t come soon enough to save Americans victimized by tainted peanut butter, dangerous toys or pharmaceuticals pushed to market too soon. In recent months, hundreds of people were sickened — and several died — after they ate contaminated peanut butter produced in plants owned by Peanut Corp of America.

The peanut butter fiasco, like the Wall Street meltdown, was the result of an ideology which allowed corporate America to do pretty much as it pleased. Businesses were allowed to police themselves, a laughable concept that suggests business executives are exempt from the human foibles, like greed, that plague the rest of us.

The awakening of the federal regulatory apparatus comes after a tsunami of recalls of defective products, from cars to bunk beds.  While a fiery August car crash that may have been caused by faulty floor boards has focused attention on Toyota’s massive recall of 3.8 million vehicles, many of the recalls have been aimed at children’s products.  Unfortunately, recalls usually occur after users have been hurt, the classic case of closing the barn door too late.

Stricter federal regulations wouldn’t stop all defective products from reaching the market, of course, especially if the manufacturer is unaware of any danger. And even with a White House that favors regulation, consumer-safety agencies will find it tough to keep up with all the imports made in countries such as China, which have few safety laws. But tough standards and more inspections would probably make manufacturers more cautious, serving as insurance against those who break the rules intentionally.

That was the case with the now-defunct Peanut Corp. of America. According to the Food and Drug administration, plant officials knew that some of their peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella but sold it anyway. They had a financial incentive to do so, but fear of getting caught may have caused them to re-run the cost-benefit analysis.

Conservatives would argue that officials of the company will pay a price anyway since they have been targeted in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. But wouldn’t it have been better to try to prevent the illnesses and deaths that followed salmonella poisoning?

Most Americans would, I think, answer “yes” to that. The reflexive distrust of government doesn’t hold up when Americans are asked about government programs from which they benefit. How many seniors upset about “socialized” medicine would give up Medicare?

What kind of response would a pollster get if he/she posed the following question:  Should the government impose regulations to protect you from defective products? I’d bet on overwhelming support for that proposition.

137 comments Add your comment

Huckabee The Next POTUS 2012

October 23rd, 2009
5:15 pm

Yeah, cindy loo who but who’s gonna save us from obozo? While I have the floor, when is the gov’t going to send me some replacement eyes. Mine were ruined the last time that u–gly meeshell obozo was on tv. That thing as first lady make rosy-lynn carter look like Jackie O. Ohhh the pain.

Bicycles

October 23rd, 2009
5:29 pm

I don’t understand your references. Wasn’t the FDA in place when peanuts became contaminated? If it was a private entity certifying the quality of a product that the market drove, we would all be better off. It would provide real results (no tainted peanut butter) and the purchasers of the end product would be paying for the certification, not the tax payers.

Jack

October 23rd, 2009
5:38 pm

Most liberals would bet on overwhelming support for anything the government regulates.

jt

October 23rd, 2009
6:14 pm

I would rather the federal government leave my peanut butter alone and pay attention to one of the FEW things that they are supposed to do.

Control our borders.

For every 1 tainted peanut victim, there is probably 10,000 victims of gangs, drugs, and DUIs caused by illegal aliens.

Woodrow

October 23rd, 2009
6:55 pm

I’m sorry Cynthia, I must have missed it. Where exactly in the constitution of the United States are the FDA, CPSC and all those other lovely items referenced? Nowhere? Gee, color me surprised.

godless heathen

October 23rd, 2009
8:09 pm

The trouble is that most consumers (and liberal journalists) have little knowledge about how things are made or done in the real world. Anyone who has ever dealt with Federal Regulators knows that when you regulate from the Federal level, protection of the citizens and workers soon becomes secondary to enforcing weird rules.

I agree regulation is a legitimate function of government, it is after all, law enforcement, but it is more effectively done on lower levels than the Feds.

E.J. Jones

October 23rd, 2009
8:14 pm

It appears that this is just another jab at conservatives. Do a simple search on her name and one of the first things that comes up is “news busters” in which MISS Cyth states that not everyone can agree on the facts when publishing.

Well, I guess she omitted a few facts here, knowing her personality and hate for old people whom she stated as being greedy.

Kamchak

October 23rd, 2009
8:36 pm

What kind of response would a pollster get if he/she posed the following question: Should the government impose regulations to protect you from defective products? I’d bet on overwhelming support for that proposition.

It’s not just food products. The same point could be made concerning the financial products constructed from sub-prime mortgages and sold as AAA rated investments.

Glass-Steagall was enacted in 1933 to protect the financial industry from themselves. It was repealed in 1999 and since then the banking industry took ever greater risks chasing higher profits.

Hard Right Hook

October 23rd, 2009
9:25 pm

“Even after years of a lassez faire ideology that allowed businesses to pillage the economy……”

“Pillage:” The act of looting or plundering, especially in war.”

So if I go into any store, and exchange money for a good or service, I’ve been pillaged?

How absolutley absurd. Only chronic opiate abuse can cause dysfunctional thinking like this.

Pablo

October 23rd, 2009
10:43 pm

Cynthia:

Please tell me you are joking…

If you take a good look at the whole situation, you will realize that over the years there are a myriad of things the Federal Government under both Republican and Democratic administrations has decided that it must do to protect us folk from ourselves, and make us dependent upon government more and more. That is, in all practicality, a very stealthy form of tiranny.

Our Founding Fathers would be very dismayed and disappointed to see what their experiment of Freedom has become. I tend to believe that when people behave in stupid ways, they end up hurt, and hopefully they learn from the experience and do not behave in the same manner again. I have done it myself before, and I have decided not to do the same mistakes again. It also goes without saying that when career politicians force sectors of our Nation to do things that are completely absurd under the threat of force from the government, bad things happen. Does the mortgage industry meltdown rings any bells? Ask the career politicians who forced the completely irresponsible lending upon banks how can they sleep at night (but that would require a conscience, wouldn’t it?).

But returning to the “protection” the intrusive type of government you seem to favor, it has forced things in the products we buy that pretty much are absurd. “Remove product from packaging and wrapper before consuming” is an example that comes to mind. Compliance with some of the asinine regulations imposed by government is also an indirect tax on all consumers, who end up paying for the costs of products and services produced in an environment that is at best, difficult.

Truth is that behind all of the push for “protection” of the public from evil products, or the push for “health reform” or “greater stability and security” career politicians are trying to shove down the throats of the citizens of this Nation, is their insatiable desire for power.

Yes, Cynthia, government IS the problem. Had the career politicians stuck with the Constitution, we would not have the type of problems we are having today.

TnGelding

October 23rd, 2009
11:28 pm

It’s a shame that regulation is needed. Where is our integrity? Why would anyone knowingly put a defective product on the market? Is money the only thing that matters to us?

clyde

October 24th, 2009
5:19 am

It is the government’s job to protect us against all enemies,both foreign and domestic,and anyone knowingly selling salmonella laced peanut butter is an enemy.The government of China has executed people that knowingly sold contaminated milk to the public.The people in charge of Peanut Corp are still living.

Madison

October 24th, 2009
5:54 am

Remember, this president is trying to protect us from Fox news.

Eddy

October 24th, 2009
7:25 am

The Securities and Exchange Commission, a gov’t agency, was in place with Madoff plus the bank meltdown. Is this an example you’d like to cite as the gov’t protecting us?

I have a dream

October 24th, 2009
7:28 am

CT, you’re a government junkie! You can’t walk, talk, think, take care of yourself and your family without the governments help. You are a suckling on the tit of government rules and regulations. In your mind, all of the worlds ill’s can be resolved by a government program. Not so, and until you and the rest of the government junkies understand that your health and well being is not based on the government and how well they take care of you, but instead personal accountability and sensibility then you will continue to look at Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan etc. as your savior or lack of a savior.

Michael

October 24th, 2009
7:51 am

In the case of the PCA and tainted peanut butter, the FDA is shielding this CEO from being prosecuted by the states. He should have been in a state prison by now awaiting trial for manslaughter. But no the FDA will most likely charge him with some lame civil crime with no jail time.

MAC

October 24th, 2009
8:21 am

The government provides some essential services but they are being grossly overpaid for it. Where is that pay czar? A 90 percent cut seems warranted for lousy performance and incentives that create systemic risk for the enrichment of a few.

MikeB

October 24th, 2009
8:53 am

You are wrong (no surprise there) Ms. Tucker. Ronald Reagan was correct (mostly) Government need not be the enemy, but the public it serves needs to have some degree of faith that the endevors it undertakes will have success and conclude at some point.

Government need not be the all things to all people oligarchy that Mr. Obama, and his administration are attempting to turn it into.

He needs to pay attention to the people in this country that pay taxes, and support them, while developing programs and expectations for those who are not so that they will………. Pay taxes? Get to vote……… Don’t pay taxes? No vote for you (unless you are a senior citizen over 65 jmho)

Lastly trust……… has Mr. Obama and his adminstration proven that they can be trusted?

- I don’t remember any prior administration having so many appointee’s with tax trouble…… The audacity this adminstration has to promote people like this to those positions and expect American taxpayers to look the other way.

-What about the way Obama has NBC CNN, and other news outlets in his pocket, but yet he spins that we should be outraged that FOX has a more conservative slant on news and events? I have never seen a President spend as much time trying to cancel out opposing views (and get so much support from the media to accomplish it). Not an activity that instills a whole lot of confidence that he will be successful accomplishing anything but tit for tat bs.

- How about acting presedential………… Sure he has ideas( I would not call them policies as the verbage has not turned into action for the most part), that I don’t care for. Fine. But this every other month on David Letterman? Please………. We have more important things to do in this country than spending $300k so that Obama and his staff can fly up to NYC bow to a cheat of another kind, and have a night on the town. The ego stroke he gets from shutting down Manhattan should be exposed for what it is…….

The onething I am thankful for is, if President Obama had real, credible private sector experience before taking office, he

MikeB

October 24th, 2009
8:55 am

may have accomplished more of his warped agenda then ha has to date……… I guess you could say……………Thank God for inexperience. This one time at least….

Jessica

October 24th, 2009
9:49 am

The problem is that if you give any government too much power, you will eventually find that you need protection from that government. You may be protected from everyone and everything else, but you will have traded your rights for that sense of security.
As our founding fathers were well aware, government is a necessary evil; we can’t do without it, but too much of it is toxic to our whole society. If you are willing to blindly trust your leaders, you are not living up to your responsibility as a citizen.
Our elected officials and the bureaucrats they put in place are imperfect people, just like the ones who run all those companies you don’t trust, and they need to be watched just as closely. On second thought, they need to be watched MORE closely, because their decisions and actions have the weight of the law behind them.

Atlanta Native

October 24th, 2009
9:58 am

“What kind of response would a pollster get if he/she posed the following question: Should the government impose regulations to protect you from defective products? I’d bet on overwhelming support for that proposition.”

I am all for government regulating that’s its job!

Who will regulate the government when it becomes the primary supplier of health care? How will they fire the incompetent, since their jobs are a property right?

Government as regulator is always preferable to government as supplier.

therese persaud

October 24th, 2009
10:16 am

WISH YOU POSTERS COULD EXPERIENCE THE BENEFITS OF GOVT HEALTH CARE PROVIDED BY ENGLAND , FRANCE , CANADA AND OTHER PEOPLE ORIENTED NATIONS !!!! OH BUT YOU WOULD DAMN THE EXPERIENCE ANYWAY AS THE ‘LAZY BUMS ‘ SEEM TO BE GETTING WHAT THEY DON’T DESERVE , DON’T THEY?? GOOD OL’ AMERICAN SELFISH VALUES AT WORK I’SAY!!

dewstarpath

October 24th, 2009
10:49 am

- It’s interesting to note on this forum that the conservative
posters on this forum don’t realize that the very medium
they are voicing their opinions on would not exist BUT FOR
the US government. The modern internet came about as a
result of an “experiment” (as Pablo calls it, referring to the
Declaration of Independence (!)) conducted at the behest
of ARPA, a government agency. Many of the microchip
fabrication companies of the 1970s were also defense
contractors. Most of those chipsets went into the products
that were the precursors of the modern PC – in other words,
the very device you are typing on.
Hypocrisy towards the role of government in the lives of
Americans or bias towards a particular party is NOT the
actions of a patriot. Improving the system of government
to work for all americans is. If the fringe right were REALLY
as independent or self-sufficient as they would have all of
us believe, WHY WOULD THEY BE WHINING ABOUT
“HEALTHCARE” ? WHY WOULD THE CARE WHO THE
PRESIDENT IS ? AND WHY WOULD THEY EVEN BE
ON THIS FORUM, OR THE INTERNET IN GENERAL ?

booger

October 24th, 2009
10:49 am

Same song over and over again….Cynthia should be charged with bait and switch. An interesting sounding headlines deteriorates into a conservative bashing rant within the first few lines.

Tommy Msddox

October 24th, 2009
11:05 am

Same old bologna – it’s Regan’s and those white Republicans’ fault.

Ric Spratlin

October 24th, 2009
11:18 am

Still waiting on Cynthia to tell us all the answer to one simple question. Please name one Government run agency the makes a profit?

chris broe

October 24th, 2009
11:26 am

Reagan did have a great line about government being the problem. That line appeals to our collective sense of liberty. Off the man! F big brother! Yeah!

chris broe

October 24th, 2009
11:28 am

The peanut butter scandal proves that Americans cant trust their inner Peter Pan.

Spartann

October 24th, 2009
11:31 am

Dear Ms. Cindy-Lou… True you are an acquired taste, but being POed at you is far better than taking a swig of Geritol……

I’m sure you’re not through hurling mud down Midland, Texas way… but you need to get off the mound for a while.. I’m up now, and I’m gonna fire off some spit balls at Lil Rock, Harlem, or Chappaqua. I’ll find him, where ever the hell he is. Ain’t no secret, Bubba is hard to keep tabs on … Go ask Hillary if you don’t believe me.

Brooksley E. Born and 1998, does that name and date ring a bell??? I’d think loud and clear if you truly merit the Pulitzer you were given….. Now Ms. Born, you will recall, was the head of the CFTC. Given the task to police the derivatives market, she discovered corruption back in 1997 and blew the whistle before Congress in 1998. Her efforts fell on deaf ears. You can thank the testimony of Rubin, Summers, Greenspan and Geithner for that royal bush wacking . Imagine that, members of the Clinton Administration sacrificing Brooksley so the money train wouldn’t crash. Eight years of your boy Bill & Co. wasn’t the road to nirvana the Left would have us believe.

Pablo

October 24th, 2009
12:06 pm

Dewstarpath:

Please re-read my post. You will notice that I hold BOTH Republicans and Democrats in the same level of contempt. Also, I do recognize that there are some functions that are best left to the government (i.e., National Defense), but the truth of the matter is that the government has stopped doing the things that it should do (well) to get into areas that free people behaving responsibly accomplish best.

Also, please note that career politicians are the ones that at some point start believing that since they have been for some time warming a chair in a government office somewhere they know all the answers and they hold all the keys, and therefore, they feel they are also above being accountable for their actions. I really doubt many of those politicians could survive a day in the private sector. Actually, we should vote them all out in next year’s elections, to watch and laugh as they try to survive in the real world where free people work for a living. I would bring my camcorder out for that.

And, yes, there are many things like the Internet, LASERs, Hummers, computers, jet engines and many other great products that were created or developed under some level or other of government action, but as you correctly point out, they were developed primarily by PRIVATE contractors. Furthermore, private sector forces ultimately made these products widely available to the general population. Remember: an elephant is a mouse made to government specifications.

The point you raise is valid insofar that there is some level of government that is necessary for the good of society. The problem arises when the government decides it must do and be everything for everyone, and the lazy and ignorant amongst us welcome that tyranny with open arms.

Finally, there are many things that can and should be done to improve the way government does things. Raising questions about how the government operates is patriotic. In truly free societies, the government is afraid of its citizens, not the other way around. And it is sad that a part of our population joins the chorus of the career politicians in seeing more government as the only solution to all the problems there are.

And, after all, whining about anything is a purely for the lazy and the ignorant. Truly free people will note the problem, asses it, see possible alternatives and implement the alternative that best address the issue without infringing upon the individual’s rights and liberties. Had the Republicans followed this simple principle instead of doing what they did the last 8 years, they would still be in power.

Have a great weekend.

Ward

October 24th, 2009
12:26 pm

More regulation means nothing if it isn’t enforced. We have laws upon laws upon laws piled up that aren’t enforced because of incompetence, confusion, favoritism and outright corruption. Every instance you cite has an agency already in place to deal with it. Further regulations only serve as handy campaign points and photo ops.

booger

October 24th, 2009
12:30 pm

Spartaan,

Not to mention the new improved “community reinvestment act” signed by Clinton. This provided the fodder, with taxpayer money, for all the wall street games Cynthia so decries. It’s also worth a reminder that if people who bought houses had paid their bills, There would not be a problem.

MikeB

October 24th, 2009
12:33 pm

Dew……. Ideas and experimentation is one thing… I will agree that the U.S. Govt. and their entities has had many of both………… Turning those ideas into viable, successful innovative entities that are beneficial to all citizens vs. the small group of original users, is no way the U.S. Govt. strong suit.

Private commercial enterprise is the only place consistent innovation occurs. After all the Governments around the world have been struggling with corruption and influence peddling since the dawn of time, and they still have not been able to develop methods to beat it.

If companies don’t defeat their demons they are supposed to die (Its what AIG Chrysler and GM should have done, but lets not go their now) When Govt’s don’t succeed, they just get in the habit of raising taxes………… A method of “passing the buck”.

Govt. may start the dance with an idea, but they are rarely able to see that idea through to successful fruition without the private sector stepping in and taking over. That is the truth.

Sam

October 24th, 2009
12:34 pm

Why do black folks type in ALL CAPS. Can that be regulated somehow?

Patrick

October 24th, 2009
12:42 pm

The only people who comment on editorials are people that are incapable of forming their own opinions. This person’s entire job is to be “controversial” so you people will read her column and argue and fight. This so called “journalist” doesn’t care if you agree or disagree. She only cares that you read her column so she can keep her job. You people are really a very sad group.
And to clarify, I am commenting on the pathetic losers that comment on editorials, not the editorial itself. There is a difference.

Mark

October 24th, 2009
1:36 pm

Tucker simply proves the ignorance of the liberal left.

TnGelding

October 24th, 2009
1:49 pm

Ric Spratlin

October 24th, 2009
11:18 am

The IRS!

The FDIC. There are probably other smaller ones as well that operate off of fees.

TMFarr2000

October 24th, 2009
2:13 pm

The comment by Huckabee the next POTUS in 20012 was just another indicator of the right wing’s inability to deal with reality as it exists. And to insult the First Lady on the basis of looks is beyond the pale of rational behavior. You guy’s LOST, deal with it! The American public was, and IS, tired of your divisive, mean-spirited, scurrilous attacks that have more to do with your own lack of intelligence than with any shortcoming of the attackee! Get a life, you dimwit. If Huckabee is the next POTUS, the Secret Service will be looking for me!

Mark

October 24th, 2009
2:17 pm

TMFarr2000 is another example of the illiterate left. Keep drinking the koolaid, mindless fool.

Shananeeeeee Fananeeeeeeee

October 24th, 2009
3:05 pm

The First Lady was on Leno last night and I was wondering if she gets a list of the questions being asked in advance like the President does?

Joan

October 24th, 2009
3:18 pm

Well, I have read the comments and certainly agree with most of them. Cyn, you are losing in the polls–big time. And about government regulating–well, it sure makes a lot of rules, but if it were capable of actually enforcing them I might agree with you on some things. But, when the rules are bent so that people like Barney Frank, and Dodd can line their pockets–well, so much for rules. You said it yourself: “The awakening of the federal regulatory apparatus comes after a tsunami of recalls”–why wasn’t it awake before????

Linda

October 24th, 2009
3:37 pm

It was NOT “lassez faire ideology that allowed businesses to pillage the economy.” The Wall St. meltdown was NOT “the result of an ideology which allowed Corp. America to do pretty much as it pleased” & businesses were NOT “allowed to police themselves.”
The world-wide economic recession was CAUSED by our government regulation!!!!!
The US had the best real estate financial market in the world. All a buyer had to do was have a job, save & sacrifice for a down payment & pay his or her bills on time. The government decided that was not fair, that home ownership was a right, not a privilege & regulated the banks & mortgage companies to grant loans to anyone who breathed. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac were mandated by our govt & given quotas for Affordable Housing. Loans made to buyers with no income, no money, bad credit & initial teaser rates were bundled with prime loans & sold on Wall St. & all over the world. Only an idiot or a politician would have not seen disaster on the horizon.

old91A10

October 24th, 2009
3:46 pm

Cynthia serves up another Obama special:
2 Crap Sandwiches on steamy buns with extra Mao
Side order of Flies
Large Sour Pickle
ky-Jelly Roll
Tall glass of Kewl-aid

Being a Recovering Demoholic, I’ll have to pass.

Pogo

October 24th, 2009
3:48 pm

Cynthia is full of………. She says years of Republican’s critsizing the government resulted in “distrust”. No, years and years of government mis-management of everything that comes into their hands is the reason Americans don’t like the government. Even the much touted “successes” like Medicare, Social Security and the Military are fiscal failures on a very large scale because of mis-management. Government bureaucracy is a cancer. Cytnthia, do you take pills to make you so deluded or are you just so damn bitter you can’t function outside of your self-imposed political paranoia?

Badger

October 24th, 2009
4:29 pm

Sadly Ms. Tucker you should and your socialist ilk are the cause of whats happening to this country.. Remember a line from the movie V for Vendetta….”The Government should be afraid of the People, The People should not be afraid of the Government” Sadly that truism has faded recently but with the idiocy of Obama that same truism is beginning to glow again.

I have a dream

October 24th, 2009
5:15 pm

I revise my previous comment, not only is CT a big government junkie, so are most of the posters on the thread.

Defend and protect against foreign enemies, not Peanut Butter and Wall Street Cronies.

Codependency is treatable!!

Ray

October 24th, 2009
5:29 pm

Collectivist Tucker keeps talking about seniors unhappy with socialized medicine, but not willing to
give up their medicare. The truth is that the money was extorted from seniors for years and most seniors feel they paid for it, so of course they don’t won’t to give it up. Also, If Tucker thinks government regulations and power are so wonderful what does she think of racial segregation laws that were enforced by government. Why doesn’t Tucker find a country where everything is controlled by the government. She can move there and be happy.

John

October 24th, 2009
7:19 pm

Cynthia, I’d love to write an witty analysis of your column that would steal you away from your misguided liberal ways. But, alas, I fear it’s too late for you. You’ve drank the Kool-Aid, and now you must spend your days in a morass of self-loathing and liberal guilt. Too bad.

ldogg

October 24th, 2009
7:32 pm

WOW, you have ONE example for your arguement??? How about the postal service, they constantly have to raise their stamp prices to compete with; UPS, FED EX, e-mail and fax!!!! Okay, how bout that health care you libs want sooo much, just look at any VA hospital and that should scare the hell out of you!!!

clyde

October 24th, 2009
7:45 pm

Patrick @12:42,

We happily welcome you,our newest member,to the “unable to form an opinion group”.Want to be our leader?????