Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“I've got a touch of hangover, bureaucrat. Don't push me.”     John Wayne as George Washington McLintock

March 11, 2008

Where Were The Regulators?

by Brad Warbiany

When people advocate government regulation, they fall prey to a critical error: they believe government can actually successfully regulate! Despite the fact that government regulation simply creates loopholes and exceptions that can be exploited, those advocates still believe in the basic premise of the system.

What then, to make of this?

But a darker side to the beef industry was revealed in January, when the Humane Society of the United States released a video showing sickening conditions at a California slaughterhouse. Cows too ill or injured to stand were shoved along by forklifts or dragged by their legs across the floor. Downer cows, as they are called, are unfit for human consumption. But many at the slaughterhouse run by the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company were killed, processed, and their meat sent to the National School Lunch Programme. “They’re going onto the plates of children,” said Wayne Pacelle, the head of the Humane Society.

You think the government can keep us safe? They can’t even certify that what they buy themselves is safe!

The next time someone tells you that they expect that government regulators are better than those of the private sector, remind them that it wasn’t government that saved you from the bad beef, it was committed non-government citizens.

The bureaucrats will offer to save you, by instituting some new regulation or some new rule. How did that work after the first mad cow care?

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4 Comments

  1. One thing to keep in mind: when the BSE scare caused Japanese govt officials to forbid imports of beef from the U.S., a U.S. meatpacker, who had a niche business shipping high quality beef primarily to Japanese customers managed to get approval from Japanese regulators to import his beef, so long as each cow was tested for BSE.

    Problem: The only people who can legally test for BSE are employees of the Department of Agriculture. So the owner contacted the D.A. They refused to test his cows, even when he offered to pay the full cost of the testing out of pocket; The U.S> govt, for political reasons, had been claiming that U.S. beef was safe to eat, and that only spot checks were required.

    The officials were quite candid when interviewed and freely acknowledged that testing every cow slaughtered at that meatpacking plant would “send the wrong message” and “undermine consumer confidence in the beef industry”.

    The problem with government oversight is that all too often government officials will cease providing oversight when it is politically expedient to do so. Last I heard our specialty meat-packer was out of business, shut down because the U.S. government wouldn’t let him impose more rigorous safety standards on himself than the law permitted.

    Comment by tarran — March 11, 2008 @ 10:40 pm
  2. Very few programs, that the government runs, work effectively…..

    Comment by Lucy Stern — March 12, 2008 @ 6:07 pm
  3. [...] a related note, Brad Warbiany, at the Liberty Papers asks: You think the government can keep us safe? They can’t even certify that what they buy themselves i… in reference to this glowing endorsement of government regulation in the meatpacking industry, [...]

    Pingback by …no third solution » Blog Archive » Comments on Comments #9 — March 13, 2008 @ 7:51 am
  4. While government often claims that they regulate this industry or that industry for the protection of the consumer ther reality is quite the opposite. The regulations are in place to protect entrenched business interests against competition. It is similar situation when the government requires licensing to provide a product or service. The argument put forth for licensing is for the protection of the consumer when in actuality it is protecting the interest of those who have the license. It is anti-competitive, anti-free market, and the antithesis of liberty.

    What I never hear discussed is that control or regulation should come with responsibility. While politicians show great zeal in their desire to impose regulations they also take great pains in indemnifying themselves from the responsibility of the control they so blithely assume. Would they be so enthusiastic if they were held liable? If a drug that the FDA approves harms or kills people, then the government is sued. If beef with USDA approval harms or kills people the government is sued. If a doctor commits malpractice the governments is sued. etc…
    Government assumes the control without the responsibility while leaving individuals and businesses holding the bag. This flows straight from your initial comment that people actually believe that government can actually control anything. It is only because we let it get away with this fatal deceit.

    Comment by septagon49 — March 17, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

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