"April 21 was an unusually violent day in Iraq; 68 people died in a car bombing in Basra, among them 23 children. As the news went from bad to worse, President Bush took a tough line, vowing to a group of journalists, 'We're not going to cut and run while I'm in the Oval Office.'Here's the White House line on it:
On the same day, deep within the turgid pages of the Federal Register, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a regulation that would forbid the public release of some data relating to unsafe motor vehicles, saying that publicizing the information would cause 'substantial competitive harm' to manufacturers.
As soon as the rule was published, consumer groups yelped in complaint, while the government responded that it was trying to balance the interests of consumers with the competitive needs of business. But hardly anyone else noticed, and that was hardly an isolated case.
Allies and critics of the Bush administration agree that the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have preoccupied the public, overshadowing an important element of the president's agenda: new regulatory initiatives. Health rules, environmental regulations, energy initiatives, worker-safety standards and product-safety disclosure policies have been modified in ways that often please business and industry leaders while dismaying interest groups representing consumers, workers, drivers, medical patients, the elderly and many others."
Scott McClellan, the chief White House spokesman, said of the changes, "The president's common-sense policies reflect the values of America, whether it is cracking down on corporate wrongdoing or eliminating burdensome regulations to create jobs."Yes, you see, it is better that people die, than businesses lose money. Aren't your values such that you'd rather that you and your family are dead, but you died employed, than alive and unemployed? I mean, isn't that the logic. Better that corporations make money, than you make an informed decision on your purchasing? I know this flies in the face of the concept that markets operate best when information flows freely, but ignore that.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, filed suit, saying consumers needed the data to inform themselves about unsafe vehicles and tires. But Ray Tyson, the chief spokesman for the highway safety agency, said: "The suggestion that the American consumer is missing out is off the mark. I can't believe this information would be of much interest to the general public."See, you don't care if the vehicle you spend a year's wages on, or the tires your wife uses to take your children back and forth to school and after school functions are safe. You'd buy them anyway, right? Hell, let's face it, knowing something is unsafe, would in no way change your purchasing decision.
The administration, at the request of lumber and paper companies, gave Forest Service managers the right to approve logging in federal forests without the usual environmental reviews. A Forest Service official explained that the new rule was intended "to better harmonize the environmental, social and economic benefits of America's greatest natural resource, our forests and grasslands."Hey, you know, miners, and if you don't, you really don't want to. What kind of people become miners anyway?
In March of 2003, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a proposed new regulation that would dilute the rules intended to protect coal miners from black-lung disease. The mine workers union called the new rules "extremely dangerous," while a mine safety administration official contended, "We are moving on toward more effective prevention of black-lung disease."
In May 2003, the Bush administration dropped a proposed rule that would have required hospitals to install facilities to protect workers against tuberculosis. Hospitals and other industry groups had lobbied against the change, saying that it would be costly and that existing regulations would accomplish many of the same aims.See, not only does this save money, it increases the demand for domestic jobs. It's a win-win game.
But workers unions and public health officials argued that the number of tuberculosis cases had risen in 20 states and that the same precautions that were to have been put into place for tuberculosis would also have been effective against SARS.
The next month, the Department of Labor, responding to complaints from industry, dropped a rule that required employers to keep a record of employees' ergonomic injuries. Labor unions complained that without the reporting, it would be difficult to identify dangerous workplaces. But the department, in a statement, argued that the records "would not provide additional information useful to identifying possible causes or methods to prevent injury.See, information on how people get injured isn't useful in determining how they get injured. And think of the saving in eliminating reporting that doesn't...I get so confused, but I'm sure you understand this better than I do. Where is my prozac when I need it? Things always make so much more sense when I'm medicated.
In one little-known case, litigants say the administration managed to turn a Congressional mandate on its head. In 1995, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a startling study on fatal truck accidents. Thousands of people die on the highways each year in collisions with heavy trucks. The board studied 107 crashes in which the truck driver survived and found that more than half resulted from truck-driver fatigue. Nineteen of the truckers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.And this:
As a result of that report, Congress the same year ordered the government to revise driving-hour rules for truckers. Under regulations unchanged since 1939, truckers could drive 10 hours at a stretch and then had to rest for eight hours. The rules, Congress said, were to be changed to "reduce fatigue-related incidents and increase driver alertness." At that time, both the Senate and the House were under Republican control, and lawmakers began debating what to do.
The truck-related accident death toll hit a new high in 1997; 5,398 people died. Congress went further in 1999 and created a new federal agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Clinton administration set a goal of reducing truck-related accident fatalities by half over the following 10 years.
Consumer and driver-safety groups, including Public Citizen and Parents Against Tired Truckers, started lobbying the new agency to shorten the number of hours drivers could stay behind the wheel. But trucking industry officials argued that shorter shifts would disrupt delivery schedules, which in turn would raise prices on thousands of products delivered by truck.And I know that all is right with the world. In fact, I just know my life is better spent (literally) when I read that:
Last year, the Department of Transportation finally issued a new rule, saying in a prepared statement that it would "save hundreds of lives" and "protect billions in commerce." The change would increase allowable driving time from 10 hours without a break to 11 hours. But after 11 hours, drivers would have to take 10 hours off instead of eight.
Trucking companies said they were satisfied with the rule while truck drivers deplored it, saying the added hours of driving time would increase driver fatigue.
Still, the administration is pleased with its overall record of regulatory change. Mr. Graham, the budget office official, eagerly acknowledged that the regulatory tilt had been toward business. "The Bush administration has cut the growth of costly business regulations by 75 percent, compared to the two previous administrations," he said.Wow, my forth prozac tab is kicking in, and I finally get it. It's truly a farsighted and brilliant jobs policy!! If you can't create jobs, get rid of the people. Less people, means a higher employment rate as a percentage of the available pool of labor. It's pure genius. Here I thought the administration had a bad jobs creation policy, when it turns out, they fooled me. They have a solid people reduction policy. I'm just so Radically Inept, it took developing a serious addiction to anti-depressants to figure it out. And, hey! Guess what? My addiction also helps the American economy. The pharmaceutical companies, and my addiction counselor are now all safely employed. Well, at least until me and my family take the new silly-Ass Useless Vehicle out for a Sunday drive, and the shoddy tires I bought blow out, and the on coming truck driver has fallen asleep and kills me and my family. On the bright side, you can have my job.