Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cleaning Up Our Food Supply

The answer is more inspectors, paid for by the food industry>

Watching television news in the evening can be a wrenching experience. Reading the same news in the NYTimes or another good paper doesn't carry quite the emotion of TV news--and I suspect that's programmed.

Last night I stumbled onto something called "Inside Edition," ostensibly an entertainment news show, but its content was not much different from what we'd just watched Katie Couric deliver: Octomom, Madhoff, hero pilot, A-Rod, executive peanut butter killer, bonus baby bankers, spousal abusing Grammy performer ...

It is simply extraordinary. We've evolved into a nation of emotional midgets, craving the vouyeristic fix of the moment, finding nourishment at the bottom of the human scumpond.

Meanwhile, we're facing some of the most significant problems in the history of our republic and our representatives are playing silly little games involving Washington fiefdoms, disproved political philosophies, gotcha politics of destruction and not much is getting done.

If our legislators are looking for a single, simple accomplishment to put on their resumes--one that would leave a grateful nation--they could improve our food inspection program by spending less than the equivalent of a banker's bonus. I would suggest that the FDA be given taxing authority and that it pull from every food processor, every drug manufacturer, everybody in a position to taint our supply of ingestibles, a small stipend that would result in one inspector for every 100-workers in those plants. They would be on-site full-time and they would be paid by and report to the FDA on a weekly basis.

They would be paid well enough to be incorruptible, but if they were to ever take a bribe, the briber and the bribee would face two years in prison per instance.

We need not be killed by the people feeding us and providing our medicines. We need to trust them, and right now we don't. We don't trust much of anybody after eight years of a Bush Administration that was the consumer's worst nightmare, where profits were far more important than public health and safety.

This little rant has rambled a bit more than I anticipated it would, but there is simply so much to complain about and there are so many readily-available solutions that it borders on maddening to contemplate. What a magnificent mess Bush has left. It boggles the mind.

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