Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Voluntary means we don't have to - consumer safety in the Bush era

My Dad wrote the following to the family list today. I checked, and he's not kidding, here's the article he probably read that got him going:


The quote from the Chinese is almost correct, here is it out of the article:

“Time and again, through the translators, they made clear they did not understand this concept,” said Nick Marchica, an engineer and former agency senior aide. “What they told us was, ‘As far as we are concerned, voluntary means we don’t have to.’ ”

We learn today, in the wake of all the poisoned dog food and harmful toys, that the Consumer Safety Bureau in the Dept of Commerce was cut in half as soon as Bush came in, and was put under a party hack with strict orders to go easy on the safety requirements. Their budget for
monitoring the safety of American consumer goods is now less than half of that for the bureau that monitors animal feeds.

Conservatives say that voluntary guidelines developed by industry are better than guidelines imposed by meddling bureaucrats, and this is the management line now at the Consumer Safety Bureau. Sounds good. But it took the Chinese importers of poisonous and adulterated and unsafe stuff to make it clear. Of course their stuff didn't get stopped at the border
by consumer safety inspectors, because there aren't any, most of the time (they now have to work from home, as their offices were abolished, and their numbers are down by 60 percent), and their testing equipment is whatever they had 10 years ago. It's OK, we can rely on the
manufacturers adhering to voluntary standards.

What did the Chinese say about this? One toy maker summed it up. "We don't understand what is the problem. Voluntary means, we don't have to."

Never mind, we don't have to run tests and require standards. We just wait until a bunch of people get sick and die, then we look into it. Cheaper that way.


P.S. I did start out as a Republican, you know. Stuff like this changed my mind.

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