Friday, October 24, 2008

The failure to govern

The following passage, from an article entitled Predatory Scapegoating by Patricia J. Williams (The Nation, October 23, 2008) puts the credit crisis/economic meltdown into perspective: is not merely a failure to regulate Wall Street; it's a failure to govern at all. The FDA is packed with industry insiders who seem content with the gross understaffing of inspections bureaus. Animal feed laced with melamine was imported from China, consumed here and has now entered the human food chain. Nontherapeutic experimentation with pesticides on humans has been given the nod. Pharmaceutical companies have gotten approval for drugs like Vioxx and Fen-Phen that should never have been put on the market. Efforts by farmers to do voluntary testing for mad cow disease have been blocked by the Agriculture Department. The Justice Department's civil rights division has been gutted. The FCC has hacked away at public access to the airways and OK'd obscene concentrations of media power. The Transportation Department is underfunded beyond all conscience, and the toll has been tragic: collapsed bridges, breached levees up and down the Mississippi and nearly unnavigable railroad tracks. And FEMA... well, we all remember FEMA.

In this country (New Zealand), I don't think there are many people who appreciate the full extent of the disaster in the US. There seems to be an assumption that the $700 billion bailout of the US financial system* has solved, or will soon solve, the problem, and that everything will soon settle down again.

*The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, enacted on October 3, 2008.

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