Who Needs Lobbyists? Darrell Issa Asks GOP's Corporate Masters for a Wish-List of Deregulation
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These are but a tiny sample of corporate America's persistent and misleading "cry wolf" warnings about government regulations that most Americans today accept as common sense efforts to protect consumers, workers, and the environment from business greed or indifference.
Fortunately, the general public, and many conscientious elected officials, ignored businesses' false warnings and adopted laws and regulations that have made America a safer, more prosperous, and more humane society. If Issa's ideological predecessors had let business lobby groups decide what regulations they wanted:
- Child labor wouldn't have been outlawed and 12-year-olds would still be working 12 hour shifts in dangerous industries as they still do today in countries with fewer labor laws.
- The Minimum wage (FLSA) and unemployment insurance would never have happened and millions more would be in poverty. Industry groups have opposed every increase in minimum wage in 70 years -- at federal, state and local level.
- The clean air act wouldn't have passed and cities would be enshrouded in smog and childhood asthma levels would be even higher than there are today.
- Regulations to prevent Acid Rain wouldn't have been adopted and sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide would poison our streams, kill trees and cause lung problems in children. We wouldn't have banned Ozone-depleting CFC's and more people would get skin cancer.
- The Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act wouldn't have passed and new drugs wouldn't be tested before they went to market, there would be no labeling describing ingredients and side effects. Dangerous drugs like thalidomide could still come to market.
- The Federal Mine Safety Act wouldn't have passed and even more miners would have died, or been injured in underground mines.
- Many more textile workers would have contracted Brown lung disease without cotton dust regulations
- More people would have died in traffic accidents if seat belts, head rests and air bags weren't required
And this is just a partial list. There would be no labeling requirements to show nutritional content of the foods we eat or warning labels on cigarettes. Dangerous chemicals like asbestos, DDT, PCB's, lead and many other toxins would still be in our workplaces, homes and communities. There's be no Clean Water Act or Truth in Lending Act. More people would die from Salmonella or E-Coli poisoning from the foods we eat.
Issa is only the latest corporate lackey to practice crony capitalism. What's needed is a different version -- responsible capitalism -- that recognizes the balance between business profits and the public interest.
Donald Cohen is the co-founder and president of the Center on Policy Initiatives. Peter Dreier, professor of politics at Occidental College, is coauthor of "The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City" and "Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century."