Saturday, February 25, 2017


The new administration says, among other things, that it is opposed to "new regulations"; that it will remove 2 old regulations for every new one proposed; and that it wants to destroy the government departments which make and enforce the regulations.  This, they claim, will make us "free." 

I beg to differ.  It will make a small number of us free to do things not currently permitted under government regulations.  The rest of us will have to live with the fallout from that.  Specifically, businesses large and small will now be able to do things not currently permitted.

The new administration has already issued permits for a previously blocked practice:  dumping coal ash.  Pickens County, South Carolina is seriously concerned about a proposal to dump coal ash from another state in a landfill in their county, apparently whether they like it or not.  And they don't.  Dumping substances into streams isn't a problem restricted to coal country.  My husband is from Wisconsin and he has told me stories of creeks poisoned when dairies simply dumped their waste whey into streams, rather than pay to dispose of it.  This was decades ago.  And remember the Gold King Mine waste water spill in 2015?  There were regulations against that, but contractors working on the mine didn't follow the regulations properly and destroyed an entire ecosystem.

If you look back at history, many of the regulations that annoy businesses so much were created because at some point, businesses did things that seriously harmed people, to the point that the government (urged by its voters) told them, "You can't do that any more."  Here are some random examples.  I didn't research these; this is what I can think of offhand.  A lot of these changes came from labor union negotiations, or from citizens joining together to protest a situation.
  • The windows in your cars have to shatter into tiny squares with not much edge, so as not to slice you to pieces in a collision.  I'm old enough to remember when car windows broke like any other window, and a piece of the windshield, if you were unlucky, could cut your throat.  
  • You can buy a car today with reasonable expectation that it will not only protect you in a crash, but will not emit noxious vapors that pollute the air; all due to government regulations that make cars more expensive to produce.  I remember when none of that was true.  In particular, I remember when the air in Los Angeles was so bad that your eyes began to sting when you drove through the pass on the Grapevine at the edge of the plain containing the city - 1,500 feet above sea level and 88 miles away from downtown L.A.
  • You must be paid extra wages if you work longer than 8 hours a day, or on a weekend or holiday.  These rules came about, through union bargaining, because before the rules, you could essentially be forced to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, at threat of losing your job if you complained.  Research the history of factory work in the late 19th and early 20th century if you think I'm kidding.
  • If you're injured working on your job, you can apply for worker's compensation to pay for your treatment, which your employer is required to pay into as a form of insurance.  Before worker's comp, if you were injured on the job, you were probably just fired - which left you broke and unable to work.
  • Food you buy at the store can't contain poisonous substances.  The classic recent example of this happened in China in 2008, when milk and infant formula adulterated with melamine (cheaper than protein but looks like protein on analysis) poisoned approximately 300,000 infants, of whom 6 died from kidney damage and 54 were hospitalized.  Yeah, that's the same melamine in some dishes.  The World Health Organization said this was "clearly not an isolated accident, [but] a large-scale intentional activity to deceive consumers for simple, basic, short-term profits."  The FDA, which is at considerable risk of being eliminated, is why you don't worry about this here.
The Republican Party and its business supporters want to eliminate government regulations to make life easier for businesses.  Unregulated businesses have a history of operating in a way that makes them money, at the expense of both their employees and their customers.  They say eliminating regulations will make you "free."  Yeah - and disabled, poisoned, and broke.  What kind of freedom is that?  Not all businesses operate this way; but without government oversight, how do we know which ones they are?  This war on regulations is one of the most dangerous things the current President has suggested, and it isn't getting nearly enough attention.

1 comment:

  1. I see Trump as an old-fashioned kind of politician.

    He's very like Reagan and Dubya, in that his experience and ability to "govern" are limited by a lack of education, experience and brain capacity. In other words, they're unqualified to hold the office.

    But Trump's version isn't about "pretending" to be President, it's about running a dog and pony show, simply to divert the Press (and the citizenry) from the real meat and potatoes governance that's happening as we watch.

    Tweeting and blustering on social media the way Trump does isn't about governing, It's about diversion. Reagan and Dubya tried to make a case for the shit they did. It usually was an embarrassment, but they both had what is called "charm" to make their case. Trump, on the other hand, doesn't waste time trying to make arguments; he just dances and sings dirty songs.

    The Congress, and the cabinet heads, are busily passing legislation and issuing orders that fall right inside the traditional Republican agenda. We all know what that is: The Republican Party has been the part of the rich and big business, throughout its history. That hasn't changed. No matter what Trump says--and what he says may sometimes carry appeal to some Red State voters--it has literally nothing to do with what is happening in Washington.

    Magicians know that the key to deceiving the audience is to present something that draws your attention away from the trick. One way is to have a sexy model "assistant" traipse around in a skimpy bikini. Another is lots of smoke and mirrors--music and literal smoke and contraptions that go flap and clunk and whistle. The thing is, most people WANT to be deceived. Magicians are fun to watch, and while we're watching, someone may be breaking into your car in the lot, or kidnapping your kid, or setting your house on fire. But while you're watching the show, you're distracted.

    But there's really no magic going on in Washington. It's business as usual. Raising military spending, repealing financial industry regulations, approving pollution and resource exploitation, abusing labor, cutting the taxes if the rich . . . all the usual suspects.

    We hear a lot about how Trump is different. Yes, he is. But the actual fact is he's no different that George W. was when it comes to actual consequences. It's a kind of lying. And Trump has always been very good at that. It's almost as if Americans WANT to be seduced by the lies and promises. It's as if we've grown so tired to being told we can't have things, it's a relief just to be told we WILL get them, even when we know, in our hearts, that the used car we're being sold is a lemon.