Profits Before People

Toxic-Household-Products-Poisoning-Your-Homes
“Industrial chemicals,” commonly known as everyday household products, are basically never tested for human toxicity.

A few years ago, I was shocked to learn that Congress passed a law in 1976 (The Toxic Substances Control Act) that stripped the EPA’s authority to regulate “industrial chemicals”; a highly deceptive term because this scary category actually includes household products. Under this terrible law, the EPA couldn’t even test a new chemical until it was on the market and people started getting sick, turning us into guinea pigs for the past 40 years.  Given the tens of thousands of potentially harmful chemicals introduced over four decades, God only knows how many toxic cocktails have accumulated in our systems, including asbestos and formaldehyde, and how many years were shaved off innocent people’s lives.  Yes, asbestos.  The United States is the only country on earth where asbestos is still legal under “specific applications” like brake pads, which means if you’ve ever changed your own brakes (like I have), you’ve been exposed.

This law is a perfect example of how Congress allows corporations to put profits before people.  In this case, Congress’ abrogation of its sworn duty to protect the public is particularly flagrant (and unforgiveable), because it violates citizen’s fundamental right not to buy products that kill them.  Worse, it constitutes an active suppression of critical information, which is vital to sound economics.  Consumers need accurate information to make informed purchases, otherwise you get what economists call a “dead-weight” loss.  In this context, the public is literally treated as dead weight.

There are currently tens of thousands of chemicals off limits to EPA scrutiny because of the law, which also mandates that EPA conduct a cost benefit analysis the few times the agency even considers banning a potential toxin.  It was this provision that forbade EPA from outlawing asbestos from American products, because the courts ruled EPA hadn’t accounted for chemical companies’ losses.  Since 1976, only five out of the 85,000 chemicals on the market have been banned under this stringent pro-business standard, while only a small fraction have even been tested.  Add the fact that EPA has been historically underfunded by a Congress hostile to its mission, and we might as well scrap the agency’s oversight of “industrial chemicals” (household products) altogether.

As usual, the lame-stream media was nowhere the past forty years on yet another example of Congress’ unwillingness to protect the public.  Thankfully, the law was finally amended several weeks ago but is still riddled with loopholes, and was only enacted because industry found state bans against suspected toxins inconvenient. However, states have now lost their right to initially ban chemicals under the new federal standard.  As usual, the law is unnecessarily complicated due to carve outs designed to protect profits over people, and, of course, the more complicated legislation is, the harder it is for the public to grasp, and the less likely they’ll pay attention to it.  Complex regulation also creates barriers to entry for small business, which the big guys love.

Of course the chemical industry’s response is that we need “compromise”, otherwise thousands of jobs will be lost, but the first thing our parents taught us was never to compromise on health.  Well, I guess they forgot to add:  “Except in corporate America.”  Yes, the standard fear-mongering about job loss shouldn’t be taken lightly, but therein lies the problem.  Moneyed interests in America have always been fond of embedding systems into our economy that are either under-regulated or never should’ve been allowed in the first place (like slavery).  Then, these nefarious practices get so entrenched we either have to fight a war to snuff them out or suffer seismic economic consequences to disentangle them from the economy.  Examples include:  Our dependence on foreign oil, processed food, cheap imports, standardized tests, for-profit prisons, for-profit colleges, for-profit healthcare, and on and on and on . . .

 

 

Profits Before People

No More Next Years:

1955_next_year
Was Brooklyn-born Bernie in the stands with the rest of “dem bums” . . . ?

It’s become increasingly apparent that the most vital plank in the 2016 Democratic Convention Platform will be reforming the entire nomination process.  For starters, Bernie wants to “open up” the primaries to parties of every political persuasion, including Republicans and Independents.  The standard argument against this is that it opens the door for the GOP base to vote for a “weaker” candidate in the primary so they can beat him/her in the general election.   Well what does “weaker” candidate really mean anyway?  Someone who truly represents old school Democratic values?  Someone like Bernie Sanders?

History of the Hijack

Back in ’72, George McGovern got blown out by the incumbent (Nixon) because the economy seemed strong and Vietnam was winding down, yet McGovern’s loss is commonly cited as a rationale for the Democrats current super-delegate system.  Question:  Is this when the Democratic Party lost its way, selling out instead of taking one on the chin and regrouping?  Apparently, party leaders couldn’t swallow such a bitter pill, namely Tricky Dick winning in ’68 with the Southern Strategy and in ‘72 by dumping the Gold Standard, which saved jobs in time for the election but bred inflation for Ford and austerity for Carter.  Pretty clever huh?

Then Reagan beat Carter in ’80 with more Southern strategy, tax-cuts for the rich and deregulation, but this time with the incumbent battling both a brutal recession (thanks to Nixon’s fuzzy math) and a Ted Kennedy primary.  That’s a triple whammy folks, and maybe Carter pulls it out if Ted waits his turn, but, typical of politicians faced with losing power, party panic set in.  Instead of reframing, rebranding, and offering alternatives to Reaganomics, these self-appointed super-delegates inherited dictatorial powers while silently shifting Right.

Rather than saving fast-fading unions, they scattered to every K-Street corner, rattling their tin cups at the well-heeled boots of a vast lobbyist army marching on Capitol Hill.  Presto!  The stage was set and the road paved with gold for the “New” Democrats, Republican Lite, Blue Dogs and Purple People-eaters to hijack the Party.  Big Business never had it so good, and the rest is history.

Clinton Coronation

Fast forward to 2016:  Now the super-delegates have morphed into a gigantic Coronation Committee for Clinton, even after she loses primary after primary down the stretch and polls half as high as Bernie vs. Trump.  This is anti-democratic (and counter-intuitive), yet the lame-stream media continues to serve as an echo-chamber for the Clinton campaign by refusing to acknowledge Sander’s momentum.  Of course, it all makes sense when you consider that television, radio and print media were gobbled up and consolidated by corporations around the same time Democrats sold us out thirty years ago.  Do you really think some talking head will expose the charade and risk losing star status, a 1% income, and a really cool job over truth?  Think again.

Bernie’s Big Fix

So here’s the bottom line:  Bernie’s call to trash the super-delegate system targets the Achilles Heel of the Democratic Party, namely, its inability to differentiate from Republicans.  It forces the Party to return to its roots by opening up the primaries, the platform and nomination process to outside campaigns fueled by small donations, not corporate capture.  Otherwise, the system will continue to operate like a modern day Tammany Hall; a churning, burning, old fashioned political machine where instead of passing bags of money around, Party Bosses nurture a complex system of legalized corruption.

Bernie’s political revolution is the antidote to this grand illusion; this Matrix where the appearance of change cons us into believing it’s right around the corner, when in reality the base is teased like Brooklyn Dodger fans (“dem bums!”) every cycle with front office promises of: “Wait ‘til next year!” Meanwhile the bank-rolled Bronx Bombers (a Wall Street dynasty) keep winning, year, after year, after year . . . and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, year, after year, after year, and the middle class disappears, year, after year, after year . . . and the climate gets hotter and health care more costly, year, after year, after year . . .

No More Next Years

Well guess what?  Berners aren’t waiting ‘til next year, next week, or even tomorrow.  We want real, big, bold, change NOW!  And like it or not, the party powerful WILL hear our VOICE at the Convention in June, because we’re sick of the con, and because, most important of all:  We are the real Democrats.

FDR
Fellow “bums” . . . I mean Democrats:  You have nothing to fear but fear itself!  Sooooo . . . squash those pesky Super-delegates and return to your ROOTS!

 

No More Next Years: