There has been a constant cry over the years by many Republican politicians for a cutback in the regulation of certain industries. If anybody believes that either poor, lax or no regulation by the federal government is the way to go and is sufficient to insure safety and good performance by big companies like BP, they haven’t been keeping up with the news over the past few months. Consider the following: we have had a tremendous number of miners killed in the mines; at least 89 deaths due to Toyota’s sudden acceleration problems; unsafe drugs put on the market killing hundreds; millions of vehicles recalled for safety problems; unsafe foods on the market; and now the BP oil spill disaster. You can readily see that there are certain industries that must be properly regulated. When the government turns over standard-making, regulation, and monitoring to an industry, that is a recipe for disaster.
Many of the regulatory agencies suffer from a shortage of funds and staffing problems. In others the industry actually controls the regulators. Also there are agencies that lack the statutory authority to carry out their responsibilities. Consider that OSHA, which is responsible for workers’ safety, doesn’t have enough inspectors to visit all of the workplaces in the United States more than once every 130 years. We need to give the agencies adequate funding and staffing and pass laws necessary to give them authority to do their jobs.
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