For nearly 40 years, those politicians who represent big business have been pushing an agenda of deregulation. They want to “get the government out of the way of business.” And they have been amazingly successful.
Since the push for deregulation began, we have deregulated airlines resulting in lost service, rising airfares for many, the demise of regional airlines and the mergers of the few remaining large airlines. We have deregulated commodities resulting in the run-up of costs for everything from electricity and precious metals to oil and grains. We have deregulated banking resulting in predatory loans by banks that are considered too big to fail.
Even for those industries that have not yet been deregulated, we have seen a series of coal ash spills, chemical spills, oil spills, manure spills, fertilizer explosions and mining disasters. We have seen Medicaid and Medicare fraud, abuse in private prisons, tax fraud, commodities fraud, and, of course, the worst economic disaster since 1929…the collapse of our banking system.
Our corporations have imported flammable clothing made in sweatshops overseas. They have imported toys colored with lead paints that are poisonous to children. We have seen the poisoning of our food system by corporations that cruelly confine animals in small cages then pump them full of antibiotics to offset the inevitable danger of diseases. We have seen thousands of consumers poisoned with carelessly handled meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. We have even seen our pets poisoned with pet foods containing uninspected ingredients from overseas.
Despite a growing trend of corporate negligence, fraud and abuse, we hear the constant drumbeat of Teapublicans screaming “over-regulation!” They claim that government oversight and litigation is costing American jobs. They want to give corporations access to the world’s most environmentally sensitive areas in order to extract oil and minerals while leaving behind a toxic wasteland of poisons and destruction. They want to allow oil companies to drill in the Arctic Ocean and along our entire coasts. They want to permit a foreign-owned mining company to extract uranium from the Grand Canyon. They want to permit a foreign-owned oil company to transport the world’s most toxic oil across the length of our nation. They want…they just want.
Even as this is being written, the corporate tools otherwise known as the Republican Party have a case before the United States Supreme Court that would emasculate the Environmental Protection Agency…an agency that is underfunded and overburdened by the callous actions of greedy corporations. If the Republican Party and its Tea Party Parasites have their way, they will not only render the EPA mute. They will further weaken the USDA by allowing meatpackers as well as fruit and vegetable packers to self-inspect their produce. They are already in the process of passing laws forbidding unauthorized recordings of the mistreatment of animals and the mishandling of produce.
There is nothing inherently evil about corporations. Many are socially-aware and contribute a great deal to our society besides jobs. But far too many are only concerned with their bottom lines and will trade long-term consequences for short-term profits. Further reducing or eliminating our watchdog agencies will benefit no one except corporate shareholders.