Opinion: Guest View
As I read a report a couple weeks ago that detailed China's dismal record on food safety issues. I found myself wondering, "Is this the kind of country some politicians want for us?"
That feeling was reinforced the next day, when I read that freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is single-handedly holding up legislation that would tighten regulation and oversight of gas pipelines, because of his philosophical opposition to any government regulation.
That proposal has nearly unanimous support among both parties, and even the natural gas industry, with the memory of several fatal natural gas accidents (including one in Allentown) still fresh.
Some politicians seem to have two, and only two, answers for our current economic woes:
1. Don't tax the job creators (never mind that job creation has stagnated in the 10 years since the Bush tax cuts went into effect).
2. Less regulation!
Do they think we really have such short memories that we can't recall the financial crisis of 2008 and the Gulf oil spill just last year, both of which resulted, at least in part, from lax regulation?
Maybe we have had relatively clean air, clean water and, for the most part, safe food and safe working conditions, for so long that people forget why that is so.
They forget the shockingly lax standards in food production that were disclosed a century ago by reformers like Upton Sinclair.
They forget that a few decades ago, cities like Los Angeles were choking in smog.
They forget the dreadful condition of many of the nation's major rivers, such as the Hudson, which are now far cleaner.
They forget how many workers were killed or maimed on the job, not just in traditionally dangerous occupations like coal mining, but also in factories of all kinds.
All of these advances were the result of government regulation.
Sure, some regulations are onerous, burdensome and silly; certainly they should be reviewed, updated and streamlined from time to time. No doubt the way some of them are written is overly impacted by special interests. But to just repeat the mantra that regulation is bad is ridiculous.
We worry, and rightly so, about competition from China. We envy its booming economy. But would we really rather have a country where babies are routinely sickened and killed by tainted formula? Where food poisoning is a fact of life? Where residents of some of the larger cities have to wear masks to go out in their smog-filled streets? Where thousands of school children are killed by an earthquake because of shoddily built schools?
Think about it.