Steven Chapman (who, thankfully, is not from these parts) in today’s local rag:
This strategy sounds counterintuitive, since the dead don’t do much buying, but some people think it accounts for periodic outbreaks of food-borne illness. They say you can’t trust the private sector to keep pathogens out of our food, making it incumbent on the federal government to protect us.
The recent episode of lethal pet food is Exhibit A in this case. Adulterated wheat flour made its way from China to factories in the United States and Canada that produce food for dogs and cats. The contamination killed or sickened thousands of animals, and led to the recall of more than 100 brands of pet food.
Many liberals, however, insist that the only remedy is more regulation. “If we expect to have our spinach uncontaminated, our pet food safe, Congress has to give the FDA more resources,” says Donald Kennedy, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
But this case also shows that, when a product goes wrong, everyone in the supply chain has a big stake in making it right. Chinese exporters stand to lose a vast amount of sales if they don’t raise their safety standards. Pet-food-makers face rejection from retailers unless they can show their products pose no danger. Stores that sell tainted goods will send their patrons to the competition.
So, following this logic, the thing to do is to wait until after some folks are dead before ensuring that the food and drug supplies are safe.
Frankly, Mr. Chapman’s misty-eyed bleeding-heart view of business ethics pretty much ignores history–but that’s a pretty common thing these days among those who call themselves “conservative.”
A century ago, American meat packers poisoned American soldiers in the “rotten meat” scandal.
More recently, Enron staffers joked about forest fires while manipulating electricity for California to drive up prices.
Just today, this headline: “Ex-China drug regulator to be executed” for accepting bribes to approve adulterated products.
And those are just a few examples that come to mind without any research.
Mr. Chapman may be somewhat right. No doubt, as these fine, upstanding business persons went about their way, they did not actually intend to harm anyone. They just wanted to cut costs and increase their profit margins.
And to hell with the rest of us.