Lobbyists for Corporate America and corporate lackeys in Congress are trying to convince the American people that regulations meant to protect folks from the ignoble impulses of Big Business are the worst thing that ever happened to our country. Public Citizen – as it has done for over 40 years – is fighting to preserve regulations that prevent corporations from risking the health and safety of people in this country in their incessant pursuit of profits. Those who want to diminish or eliminate the ability of the American people to set reasonable limits on the behavior of corporations have either forgotten or ignored recent history. Let’s take a look at the results of either no regulation or a lack of effective regulation:
• A worldwide recession caused by Wall Street tycoons, many of whom are back to their old tricks, even after the American taxpayers bailed them out.
• 11 workers killed, more than 200 million gallons of oil spewed into the ocean, and incalculable ecological and economic devastation throughout the Gulf region as a result of BP cutting corners so it could make more profits.
• 29 coal miners sacrificed to Massey Energy’s reckless greed.
• Thousands upon thousands of U.S. Citizens sickened, injured or killed by bacteria-tainted food, lead-painted toys and malfunctioning cars.
Despite these tragic examples, corporate executives and their lobbyists, as well as a good number of politicians, have undertaken an unprecedented campaign to tighten their chokehold on the lives of people by further weakening what already in most instances are modest regulations and safeguards. Congressional leaders have formally asked more than 150 corporations, trade associations and neoconservative think tanks to provide a wish list of consumer, environmental, public health and other protections to eliminate. It’s no surprise to learn they got a huge response to their requests. This is the leading edge of an insidious movement to strip away regulations that keep our food safe, our air and water clean, and our economy from collapsing – all with the aim of maximizing corporate profits that are already at record highs.
“Junk economics” is being used to mislead the public and attack regulations under the pretense that the regulations cost jobs and limit economic growth. Public Citizen has examined the so-called corporate “analyses,” and found them to be “chock full” of fake calculations. According to the consumer advocacy group, they also deliberately ignore the obvious benefits of regulation. Fortunately, Public Citizen has launched a grassroots campaign to fend off the corporate assault on regulatory protections. The consumer advocacy group will profile victims of corporate wrongdoing to highlight the real-world impact of regulatory failure. Public Citizen will also deconstruct the groundless claims about the “costs” of public protections – and document the “enormous benefits of regulation.”
It should be noted that even while many people are hurting, things are plenty good for big business right now – but not for workers. It has been reported that U.S. corporations raked in record profits of $1.678 trillion in 2010. So it’s obvious their failure to hire new workers has nothing to do with regulations. Corporations and their lobbyists routinely overstate the costs of public protections and ignore their benefits. Unfortunately, this approach works because the national media on too many occasions buy into the message.
Big Business must be properly regulated to stop rampant criminality and wrongdoing. For example, in the past five years alone, Big Pharma paid $14.8 billion in penalties for allegedly violating federal and state laws, primarily for cheating the federal and state governments on price, and for improperly marketing medicines for purposes for which they had not been approved. It’s obvious that we need stronger prescription drug safety rules and enforcement. The FDA is compromised because 50% of its budget for drug review and approval is provided by the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, the agency often is viewed as little more than an extension of Big Pharma, rather than serving the public it’s supposed to protect.
Since the adoption of drug company funding in 1992, the FDA has reviewed and approved a record number of new drugs that later had to be recalled from the market. In fact, Public Citizen research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that one in five new drugs was found to have a significant safety problem after it had been approved. Does that sound like the FDA was doing its job?
On another front, most Americans believe polluters must be regulated to protect our health and the planet. Greenhouse gas and other pollutants threaten us with climate catastrophe, while worsening a virtual epidemic of asthma and other lung diseases. Stronger clean air rules will unleash a wave of technological innovation that will improve environmental health and reinvigorate the U.S. economy. People in the Gulf Coast states don’t need to be reminded that we need tougher rules on oil drilling to prevent a recurrence of the BP disaster.
We experienced first-hand recently what weak regulation of financial institutions did to our nation’s economy. That should be a proof enough that Wall Street and other big corporations must be regulated. The failure to regulate the financial service industry – and to enforce existing regulations – led directly to the Great Recession and the loss of eight million jobs, with most of those lost being in small businesses. The Great Recession was brought on by a runaway financial sector, empowered by reckless deregulation. Public Citizen won the first steps in Wall Street reform last year thanks to the involvement of tens of thousands of supporters.
We should all join with Public Citizen and help defend the gains that have been made by the group and push forward for additional measures needed to protect consumers and our economy from predatory practices in the financial industry. Please don’t be misled by those who would tell you that we need less regulation of Corporate America. You can rest assured that you will hear this line many times over the upcoming weeks and months from those in Corporate America who are working hard to keep Congress under their control. I urge all of our readers to join with Public Citizen and fight to protect the rights of all American citizens. If you need more information go to citizen.org.
Source: Public Citizen
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