There She Goes Again

Hannah Garry, Opinions Editor

  I was reading the Star Trib’s Opinion section when something in the “short takes” caught my eye. It was titled, “An open letter to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann” The letter, written by Melissa Castino Reid, a mom from Mound Minnesota, was concerning Bachmann’s recent visit to an Iowa meat packing plant. During her visit Bachmann commented that food regulations are causing strife for small business. “We want to have safety, but we also want to have common sense” said Bachmann She is also reported as calling these regulations, “overkill” that they prevent job creation and hurt small businesses.  Bachmann told reporters, “That’s part of the problem, the overkill, and when they make it complicated, they make it expensive and then you can no longer stay in business” Bachmann promised to help small businesses create jobs by reducing food safety regulations imposed by the government.  (Read the full story, from the Associated Press, here)
            In doing some research on the USDA website and I found that these regulations pretty much boil down to three things, preventing adulteration of the product, meeting basic hygiene and cleanliness standards, and allowing inspectors to inspect the premises. None of these seem like “overkill” to me, in fact they seem like pretty common sense. Maybe, contrary to Bachmann’s statement, safety and common sense go hand in hand?  I worry that the government even has to protect us from plants that would choose not meet these conditions if not regulated.
            According to the CDC, in 1999 it was estimated that E.coli infected 73,000 people in the U.S. each year and caused 60 deaths. Currently a listeria outbreak has made it necessary to recall a crop of cantaloupe from a Colorado Farm that is linked to 84 illnesses and up to 17 deaths according to Time Magazine. In Ms. Castino Reid’s letter she details her own family’s struggle with E. coli. Her 4-year old daughter, Rachel’s, story is chilling and, for me at least, drives home the fact that we absolutely do need Government regulation. The Government is supposed to protect us and inspecting and regulating food production is just as important as having police officers or firefighters.
            It seems to me that Bachmann is just trying to impress her tea party supporters with more “Boo government interference!”  rally cries. Last year the L.A. times reported on Bachmann’s visit to an Iowa traffic light factory where she claimed that her model for a smaller government with lower spending would help factories like them, “grow, grow, grow, grow, grow” One problem, traffic light factories depend on government spending for 80% of their revenue. Oops.
 Instead of worrying about their own poll numbers politicians should be worrying about what’s actually best for the American people. Or in other words, doing their jobs. Sadly this never seems to be the case in either party. Politicians like to rush in, either condemning something or praising something without bothering to take the time to actually understand it.
Don’t blindly support any politicians claims without doing your research, especially not when it comes to your own safety.

You can read, “An open letter to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann” here