Wednesday, April 25, 2007

OSHA

Deregulation has been a crusade for every president since Reagan, including Bill Clinton. Various lines of patter are used to get the public on board, since it almost always includes no benefit for the population at large, and more often works to their detriment. Corporations tend to be the big winners in all deregulation schemes.

Pushes toward deregulation are sometimes covered in the mainstream media, but their consequences, which typically materialize slowly in the years that follow, are seldom given any attention. There is, however, an article in today's Times about the de-fanged Occupational Safety and Health Administration that's worth a look.

Needless to say, OSHA was almost completely stripped of it's enforcement powers by the Bush adminstration. Most of it's rules are now voluntary. No, really, voluntary. And people are getting very sick in the workplace, including a the workers from the Times piece: nine people who came in contact with a potentially lethal food additive while working in a microwave popcorn factory.

The defenders of this particular type of deregulation would point to, among other things, a reduction in the size of government (the old Gingrich battle cry). In this case, though, the government was not made smaller, but simply made impotent. And what could more of a waste of tax dollars that that? Oh, wait, I almost forgot about Iraq...