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Draconian Food Safety Bill Passes the House

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In all the furor over the healthcare bill, another critical piece of legislation has been largely ignored. I put out a warning a few months ago about the efforts to pass legislation applying draconian new regulations to food production and crushing small and organic farmers to the benefit of giant agrobusinesses. What was troubling in the two food regulation bills passed earlier this year (HR875 and HR759) has become truly terrifying now that those bills have been combined into a new and more comprehensive successor, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR2749).

This bill has now been quickly rammed through the House of Representatives. When it failed to get the required two-thirds majority on Thursday a vote was taken to set aside the rules and it was passed with a bare majority. Democrat support was very strong, but most Republicans opposed the bill, presumably on the grounds of natural opposition to the expansion of government bureaucracy and power which it represents. It will now go on to the Senate where there will be another opportunity to stop it from becoming law.

Although this bill has been promoted as an effort to increase food safety, it fails to address the main source of past problems which have mostly occurred in large-scale industrial agriculture, not small farms or food producers. In the process it introduces harsh regulations which will devastate small and local farmers and food related businesses. The bill also increases the power and authority of the Food and Drug Administration which has already demonstrated itself to be incompetent and easily corrupted. Perhaps worst of all, it contains provisions for clearly unconstitutional violations of the basic rights of many citizens.

Some of the most serious problems in the bill include:

    • Warrantless searches of farms and food processing facilities and wholesale seizure and potential destruction of produce and livestock with nothing resembling probable cause or due process of law, in clear violation of the protection of property guaranteed in the 4th Amendment. The FDA will be able to go anywhere and search your home, your barn or your kitchen at whim, shut down your business and seize whatever it wants with no evidence.
    • A mandatory annual fee of $500 for any facility that “holds, processes, or manufactures food,” a category defined so broadly that it would impact most of the small scale producers who sell things like cheese, bread, eggs and vegetables at farmers markets with a fee sufficiently high to shut many of them down.
    • Takes consumer protection and food safety regulation away from the states and concentrates it in the hands of federal bureaucrats at the FDA. Also includes unprecedented enforcement powers allowing the FDA to essentially declare martial law in areas where they suspect food contamination and shut down businesses and trasnportation, again with very broad wording and no regard to constitutional rights or due process. It also authorizes the FDA to dictate how various crops should be raised and processed, again entirely at the discretion of FDA bureaucrats who will now essentially be running your small farm or henhouse or kitchen-based jam canning operation. The power of the FDA will be massively expanded with little accountability.
    • A complex and expensive food tracking system which theoretically mandates that all food products be tagged at the point of origin and recorded throughout the distribution process, adding massive bureaucracy at every level of the process of producing, distributing and selling food with much of the associated expense on the backs of small businesses and farmers.
    • Severe criminal and civil penalties, including fines of up to $100,000 and 10 years in prison for each violation of an FDA rule. Spending her twilight years in the slammer and losing her house will sure teach Grammy not to leave the official FDA ingredients label off of the jams she sells at the farmers market.

Perhaps most troubling is that large industrial farmers and food product manufacturers are exempted from most of this draconian regulation, despite the fact that they are the ones responsible for the outbreaks of salmonella and e-coli contamination of meat and spinach and peanut butter which have provided the pretext for this legislative excess. At the same time, small farmers and food manufacturers who have a history of providing safe and healthy products will bear the heavy weight of regulation, fees and meddling from a huge new food bureaucracy.

Although some consumer advocacy groups have supported the bill, groups which represent the interests of small farmers like The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund have opposed it vehemently. As finally passed, some aspects of the bill seem to have been made more reasonable, with most farms and cattle ranches are exempted from the worst regulatory provisions, but the harsh enforcement measures and extreme emergency powers for the FDA remain intact.

Putting aside the harm the bill will certainly still do to a lot of small businesses, what concerns me the most and what I consider more than sufficient reason to see this bill strongly opposed in the Senate, are the clearly unconstitutional powers which it gives to an agency which already has far too little citizen or congressional oversight. With the FDA’s history of scandals and undue influence from the pharmaceutical industry, giving it more power and authority over everything we eat just seems like an inherently bad idea. Despite scaremongering in the media, the actual number and severity of outbreaks of food related illness remains remarkably low and the current level of regulation from state agencies and the USDA seems to be entirely adequate. What this bill mostly does is protect the food industry from competition, empower bureaucrats and trample on citizens rights. There’s no reasonable justification for enacting it into law.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Doug Hunter

    I’m glad to see you’re soldiering on Nalle, I’ve about given up hope on the people in this country. You can show how this is a boon for mega agribusiness weeding out competition, what effect it will have on small farmers, describe in detail how nothing, even communist countries where everything IS government regulation is safe.. accidents still happen. You can demonstrate the destruction of small business and trot out pages of statistics about the effect on our economy, our liberties, and it won’t make a damn bit of different to the pea brained leftist entitled douchebags who now are the majority in this country.

    They can counter the best laid logical argument with a simple one line emotional appeal. But what about the children’s food! I think we should spare no expense on what goes into my body! Doesn’t matter if they put 100,000 small farmers out of business, destroy the foundation of freedom and rights in this country and in the process create a bureacratic nightmare and police state becuase their precious little heart is in the right place, doing it for the children.

  • Doug Hunter

    Just some statistics for right wingers who are interested in that sort of thing. The evil, bad, horrible Bush/Republican initiated Salmonella scare of 2008 triggered 1329 cases and a whopping 1 death. Apparently, Salmonella has all the killing power of toe fungus or the common cold.

    It’s not something that rises to the level of massive new government regulation and bureacracy becuase of it’s rarity and the fact that even with government intervention Salmonella will still exist in the food chain, people will still get sick, and people will die.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I have a better idea, Dave. Let’s just dismantle the FDA, the PUC, the EPA – all governmental agencies, in fact, or divest them of all their overseeing and regulatory powers and return to the good old days.

    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair should serve as a blueprint for the economic recovery in this day and age – a new and brave beginning.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Doug, I’ve had salmonella — a natural risk of raising chickens. Not a big deal if you’re under 70 and have an immune system.

    Roger, you know damned well that I’m not against regulation when properly applied. But even you have to admit that the FDA has not done a good job for years, and expanding their powers when they ought to be undergoing review and reform is the wrong idea.

    Dave

  • Doug Hunter

    “The Jungle by Upton Sinclair should serve as a blueprint for the economic recovery in this day and age”

    If the world was such a bad place as Sinclair described, why did people need an socialist agitator to let them know about it? Was there something wrong with their own eyes and ears.

    That’s one of the amazing things about the modern world. News, the collection of oddities, in the world has become ‘reality’ while reality has been laughed off stage and become mere anecdotes (or the subject of a staged television show). Don’t trust your own senses and experiences trust what the bureacrat or activists tells you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “If the world was such a bad place as Sinclair described, why did people need an socialist agitator to let them know about it? Was there something wrong with their own eyes and ears.”

    Yes, Doug. There is something wrong with “eyes and ears” because we can only judge in terms of the past. Part of being able to see more clearly is predicated on breaking with the past and raised expectations. So yes, sometimes you do need “the agitator” to open eyes and ears.

    The different stages of the Industrial Revolution is a case in point. Raised expectations did contribute to alleviating some of the early excesses – whether through legislation or other reforms; it brought greater sensitivity into play (which also contributed, BTW, to the exaggerated picture of the impersonal forces of capitalism and many similar misconceptions). One way or another, it was responsible for the capitalist system adopting a more benign, friendlier face.

    But if you want to return to the more brutal aspects of it, to its raw beginnings, welcome to it. I’m certain, however, that you don’t, and that your remarks are merely reflection of an archaic mindset whereby free enterprise and government involvement loom as altogether separate moments of thought and define an unbridgeable dichotomy. “Socialism” may have been a scare word fifty years ago, but you’re using it just the same – forgetting all the while that we can’t recover the “idyllic” past.

    Yes, the world has changed, and whether we like it or not, the old categories of thoughts have been rendered obsolete. The weakness of the conservative mindset is precisely not being able to face up to the ever-changing conditions. Get with it, Doug. I know you can be more creative than that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I realize, Dave, these agencies aren’t doing their job. They need total revamping. And that ought to be one of the first things on the agenda of the hope and change candidate.

    It is a disgrace.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There’s no explanation other than that they’ve becomes thoroughly politicized and infiltrated with corrupting influences. So yes, it is a farce.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The FDA has certainly been devastated by political and financial influence. The board members are mostly former pharmaceutical industry executives and no one is holding them accountable.

    And just to make a partisan point on The Jungle, the book did have an influence. It prompted a Republican president — Teddy Roosevelt to promote and ultimately sign the first food industry regulation law.

    Dave

  • Jordan Richardson

    Is there no limit to the fear-mongering going on here at BC Politics?

    It seems each article and each comment these days is filled with such creative language to explain what are essentially the most basic of circumstances. This bill is described in this article as “terrifying” with the notion that our grandmothers are going to be tossed in the slammer for improperly labeling jam nicely included for extra points.

    As per usual, Dave is perfectly clear on the facts when they support his argument and dismisses or purposely clouds the other side. This leads to the usual “rah rah rah” from those lurking on his own side of the pool, supported with statements of “we’re all going to hell” or “grandma’s gonna die in jail.”

    Don’t you ever tire of this?

    The truth about the bill is that it should be read and examined fairly and impartially. There are good points to the bill, including the fact that it makes it easier to determine where foodborne illnesses come from. Dave’s “point” about foodborne illnesses not being a “big deal” if you’re under 70 is just ridiculous and akin to saying “oh well, you won’t die from it (maybe) so let’s not spend that much money trying to help the situation.” Puh-lease.

    Dave also purposely muddles the use of “facility.” Now the bill isn’t particularly clear on the specifics, but Dave sure seems to think it is. The bill does more to mention what a facility is NOT (a facility is not a private kitchen or, interestingly, a restaurant, for instance), though, and I’d encourage any curious readers to look at the actual bill and not just on the biased interpretation of it provided by Dave in this article and at this article’s link.

    What’s truly sad is that Dave and his ilk will continue to waste their lives wishing for days gone by and crying about a presumed loss of liberty that exists only in their imaginations. What this and almost every single other article and, indeed, thought expressed of this kind is really about is fear of a changing world. With more cultures, people and situations arising in our society, we need new ways to deal with the multiple issues that come up.

    Change isn’t good or bad; it is necessary. And sometimes growth, be it in government or “red tape,” is just part of it. Instead of standing behind some crusty ideology of big or small government, why not just stand behind government that works for most (preferably all, but that’s impossible) of its people instead of just for a few of them?

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Fear mongering. Let’s go there.

    I fear a military that is shoring up its’ bases with super-Christian churches. Investing millions of dollars in erecting these Christian monoliths in bases across the country.

    I fear that military clergy are following the call of Draconian backwoods Christians who feel they are above the law because their so-called God has “chosen” them to deliver His message.

    I fear a cowardly Democratic Congress who doesn’t have the testicular fortitude to stand up and say it like it is in Washington. Instead they cower at every turn and are willing to shun their own President for fear that they will not retain their respective seat in Congress.

    I fear a multi-corporation network of lobbyists who control every vote that is cast in Congress. A lobby who fears nothing, is ruthless and would even resort to ‘silencing’ the opposition by any means necessary including blackmail and murder.

    I fear a society that is so out of tune with its government that it will allow these Fascist pigs to continue to walk on the Constitution on their ways to the bank.

    I don’t fear Right Wing Christians. Their day of reckoning is at hand. And if that reckoning is at the feet of Muslim extremists — so be it. It is retribution they deserve seven fold in my eyes. They have supplanted morality with their own brand of duplicity starting at the C Street Chapel of Politics. Research the facts, folks, these people are enemies of the Constitution.

    I don’t fear Muslim extremists because their own fellow Muslims will stamp them out at the right opportunity. The majority of Muslims are good, Allah-fearing people who want peaceful coexistence. They are as sucked in as the American public and are frustrated as to how to eradicate the ‘cancer’ that festers.

    We’ve had enough fear mongering in this country. It’s time to instill REAL fear into the politicians’ hearts (or lack thereof) by sending a resounding message in the 2010 elections. I fear that my warnings will fall on completely deaf ears because those who should be afraid the most are educated the least.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The alarmist tone of the article is a bit much. And it contains such gems of dead-wrong misinformation as “the current level of regulation from state agencies and the USDA seems to be entirely adequate.” And if we disagree, we [and the always handy-to-blame media] are the “scaremongers” for caring about the high-profile tainted produce outbreaks of the last few years. That peanut-paste scare was genuinely alarming. And that Georgia plant had passed state inspections easily!

    The bill Dave describes and the bill described in Friday’s newspapers seem to exist on two different planets. The papers described an underfunded, understaffed agency that will now actually be able to inspect food processing plants, some of which have gone 10 years without an inspection.

    A few facts:
    The 2/3 majority was not ‘required’ to pass the bill — just to push it through without amendments. The final vote was just 3 votes short of 2/3; and the Republican votes were 54 For and 122 Against – so 30% of GOP members supported the bill.

    The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s own article is a lot less wild-eyed than Dave’s:

    A split has opened in the progressive food community about how small-scale producers would fare under the regime laid out by the bill. A coalition of groups, including some I deeply respect like Food and Water Watch and Consumers Union, supported the bill. They wrote in a Thursday letter:

    “The complaints of certain sustainable and organics groups are unfounded. Great pains have been taken by members on both sides of the aisle, and on several House Committees, to address concerns that have been raised about this legislation.”

    The New York Times also quotes the Pew Charitable Trust’s food/consumer guy [name: Erik Olson!] approvingly calling the legislation “historic,” and mentions that both the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Consumer Federation of America backed the bill.

    By the way, although Roger’s mention of The Jungle is not irrelevant, the FDA will still have no authority over meat. That’s the Agriculture Department.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com MarkSaleski

    Is there no limit to the fear-mongering going on here at BC Politics?

    the answer is NO.

    the capacity for this kind if thing is…

    ….my god, it’s full of stars…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What else are the poor Republicans to do?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    They could try to limit themselves to facts.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    There’s no explanation other than that they’ve becomes thoroughly politicized and infiltrated with corrupting influences. So yes, it is a farce.

    How would anything else be possible?

    We’ve had enough fear mongering in this country. It’s time to instill REAL fear into the politicians’ hearts (or lack thereof) by sending a resounding message in the 2010 elections.

    How do you propose you’ll do that? Didn’t work real well with GWB or the Democrat Congress. Guess the people showed them by disapproving.

    I fear that my warnings will fall on completely deaf ears because those who should be afraid the most are educated the least.

    Yeah, I wake up with that same feeling every day and every night I’m sure of it.

    Somehow people expect that something different can possibly happen when they hand their power to other people and pay them big bucks to speak on their behalf in a competitive, selfish, dishonorable, morally bankrupt, dog-eat-dog society.

    They expect this fantasy government, but think it would be absolutely beyond impossible for people to actually make their own decisions on a community level.

    People get into a position of power and all they want to do is use it to their personal advantage or hold it for as long as possible. Especially as it gets more and more expensive to live.

    Grow up.

  • Lumpy

    Cimdy, apologist for the state. LOL.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Lumpy,

    I’m bewildered. That’s your reply to a comment I make denouncing the govt?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Yes, Cindy, Lumpy’s comment makes no sense.

    But your own seems pretty far from reasonable. Especially in the context of this food law, on which you state no stand either way.

    No government is perfect. But why tar everybody with the same brush? That way madness lies.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    As per usual, Dave is perfectly clear on the facts when they support his argument and dismisses or purposely clouds the other side.

    Jordan. I read the bill. I read the criticisms and advocacy for it. I decided I didn’t like certain parts of it and I wrote about them. Why is the mere fact that I have an opinion such a problem for you?

    Don’t you ever tire of this?

    Do you ever tire of being a sheep?

    The truth about the bill is that it should be read and examined fairly and impartially.

    Which is what I’ve been doing since they first started working on it this past winter. In some ways this bill is an improvement over its predecessors, as noted in the article. Overall it’s still very bad.

    There are good points to the bill, including the fact that it makes it easier to determine where foodborne illnesses come from.

    At great cost to the consumer and producer.

    Dave’s “point” about foodborne illnesses not being a “big deal” if you’re under 70 is just ridiculous and akin to saying “oh well, you won’t die from it (maybe) so let’s not spend that much money trying to help the situation.” Puh-lease.

    No, people WILL die. But it will continue to be a tiny number compared to other causes and certainly not enough to justify draconian legislation, huge expense and loss of rights.

    Dave also purposely muddles the use of “facility.” Now the bill isn’t particularly clear on the specifics, but Dave sure seems to think it is.

    No, I think that the bill leaves the definition of facility wide open, creating the opportunity for abuse.

    The bill does more to mention what a facility is NOT (a facility is not a private kitchen or, interestingly, a restaurant, for instance),

    This is one of the areas of improvement. Originally it was left entirely open to interpretation, but people like me complaining about it made them put at least some restrictions on it. That’s the whole point here.

    What’s truly sad is that Dave and his ilk will continue to waste their lives wishing for days gone by and crying about a presumed loss of liberty that exists only in their imaginations

    If you actually believe this then please just go check yourself into a long-term care facility on an IV of valium and leave those of us who care about the country alone.

    This is a very basic issue. I simply want to make sure that my neighbors can continue to sell their produce and craft foods at the local farmers market. Is that too much to ask?

    And BTW, I realize you just object to anything I post on a knee jerk basis, but in this case I’m taking sides with “liberal” interests and you’re siding with big government conservatives and against the people. Be proud.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Do you ever tire of being a sheep?

    Dave, if ever there were a rallying cry to sum up where we are at in this country it is the above!

    Americans, are you tired of being sheep? Instead of listening to the pundits and submitting to the politicians, become leaders. Attack this system head on. Break free from the corrals we’re in and show your mettle.

    Begin at the ballot box. If you cast your ballot on a computer screen, DEMAND a paper printout of your vote to be deposited into a lock box so there will be no question as to how you voted.

    Next, stop by your respective Congressperson’s local office this week. They’re on summer recess. They’re supposedly going back home to talk to constituents. This ain’t a paid vacation, folks. Go visit YOUR member of Congress and make certain they’re at work for YOU!

    And finally, go shop at a locally owned business. Forget the thongs you can buy at WalMart for $6. Instead, go to the locally owned lingerie shop. Spend $12 on a nice thong that will last more than a year. Sure you’ll pay more, but it will last longer and you won’t get a yeast infection. After all, do you even have the health coverage to get a yeast infection treated?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Too late, Silas. We’ve become a nation of Wall-Mart consumers. The little ghost town where I happen to be stuck has no social life to speak of – unless you count the honky-tonk bars or the churches. But they’ve surely got the Wall Mart – the spiritual and cultural hub of Hopkinsville, KY.

    The damnedest thing is, these backwards people don’t even know a good honky-tonk bar. They’re not even good Southerners – just Appalachian white trash.

  • Bliffle

    There’s no doubt that the Bush administration politicized regulatory agencies such as the FDA and the USDA, which has put us in some deep holes that we have to dig out of, partly by appointing qualified professionals instead of political cronies and partly by passing legislation to bar such bad policies in the future.

    For example, during the Bush regime meat inspectors were fired from the USDA payroll (putatively to save money) and the meat factories were required to pay their own inspectors. Of course, the factory paid inspectors returned ratings favorable to their bosses, which resulted in some scandals.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Next, stop by your respective Congressperson’s local office this week. They’re on summer recess. They’re supposedly going back home to talk to constituents. This ain’t a paid vacation, folks. Go visit YOUR member of Congress and make certain they’re at work for YOU!

    We’ve already got that going on here in Austin. There was a protest earlier today which really took Congressman Lloyd Doggett unprepared. He seemed rather nonplussed when hundreds of chanting protestors showed up at his carefully planned photo-op and drowned out the handful of dem loyalists who had been recruited to be there.

    Doggett really is one of the worst and I hope every appearance he makes is ruined by protestors.

    And finally, go shop at a locally owned business. Forget the thongs you can buy at WalMart for $6. Instead, go to the locally owned lingerie shop. Spend $12 on a nice thong that will last more than a year. Sure you’ll pay more, but it will last longer and you won’t get a yeast infection. After all, do you even have the health coverage to get a yeast infection treated?

    I’m not sure WalMart thongs are any more yeast infected than any other thongs. But that aside, this is kind of the point I was making. This bill benefits big business and harms the small businesses which we ought to be trying to support.

    We need to fight for Capitalism 2.0 — where the economy is diversified through small entrepreneurial and local businesses and less and less dependent on large national and international corporations. It’s one of our best insurances against future economic problems and a sure route to greater prosperity.

    Dave

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    We need to fight for Capitalism 2.0 — where the economy is diversified through small entrepreneurial and local businesses and less and less dependent on large national and international corporations. It’s one of our best insurances against future economic problems and a sure route to greater prosperity.

    Amen, Dave. That’s what we’re trying to do. For the last several months we’ve been slowly working on a marketing campaign — community by community to get the locals to open up and see what’s at stake. We’re doing it in creative ways, thinking outside the box and doing our best to leave politics out of it.

    I came up with a motto once — Homeland security begins at home. As a matter of fact there’s a company that uses it thanks to me. That being said, it’s important to remember that homeland security isn’t only about shoe bombers and rabid religious nuts. It’s about forcing car makers to create products that don’t depend on foreign energy. It’s about utility regulators laying down the law and getting solar, wind and yes nuclear power back up to snuff. It’s about mandating that all housing projects funded by the government across this land be completely energy self-sufficient in ten years. It’s about economic independence and the cultivation of that traditional entrepreneurial spirit which once drove this country’s economy. We must get back to basics and realize that all this superfluous nonsense we’ve been fed by the media and advertisers has done more to harm national security than a Camp David Accord.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    handy,

    Perhaps you’ve missed my position on govt, even after all this time. It’s not that no govt is perfect, it’s that all govt is based on power over others. No govt will work and no govt is legitimate.

    I’m not painting everyone with the same brush–just those who aren’t able to step outside of framework they have been supplied with. As far as I am concerned, what I wrote is the truth, as I see it.

    Funny though, it depends upon your viewpoint what madness is. I think most people are mad. I think normalcy is neurotic and contains degrees of psychopathy. I’m not engaging in hyperbole, handy. I’m quite serious.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    I must have read that last paragraph 25 times, Cindy. And you know what? Maybe you’re on to something. Maybe it’s the normal ones who are mad and the “mad ones” who are human.

  • Bliffle

    Dave avers:

    “We need to fight for Capitalism 2.0 — where the economy is diversified through small entrepreneurial and local businesses and less and less dependent on large national and international corporations.”

    Too late, Dave. Back when that could have been done the small business advocates were deceived by Big Corporate Pirates into thinking they were on the same team. They thought their enemies were ‘the liberals’, a distraction that always seems to work with some people. So the Big Corp Pirates stole their business.

    Everyone on the right cheered when Bush emasculated the Anti-trust division and generally politicized the DoJ.

    How stupid.

    You weren’t one of those, were you Dave?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    But Cindy, doesn’t freedom include the right to surrender a little bit of your liberty to government in order to have it provide you with certain necessary functions? Always assuming it’s done with the wisdom to place limits on the power of government, of course.

    And Silas, who are the “we” you refer to in #25? It sounds interesting. Is there a website?

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Bliffle, I know you find these lame, bullshit talking points comforting, but they really do bear no relationship to reality. There’s not some sort of conspiracy by big corporations to destroy small businesses and the truth is that in many cases the things which benefit large corporations also benefit the small ones. A better climate for business is better for ALL business. Confiscatory taxation and driving businesses out of business or out of the country hurts all businesses.

    Truth is that many corporations play a key role in keeping small businesses going, because they rely on those small businesses for specialized services and products which they’d rather not produce in house.

    So please, keep the anticapitalist silliness to a minimum.

    Dave

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    roger nowosielski – Excellent use of the straw man fallacy in comment #3. You must be an MSNBC viewer.

  • Clavos

    I’ve said it before. It bears repeating.

    At some point in his life, bliffle was royally screwed by some large corporation. Probably one he worked for.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Doug – I generally agree with you in comment #1, except the “pea brained leftist entitled douchebags” aren’t in the majority anywhere except the mass media and the academe (and northern California, of course).

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of know-nothing drones out there who have no idea how to think critically, and so they just mindlessly accept the leftist propaganda that is fed to them by the mass media and the tenured radicals. And that’s the real problem we face. 40% of the country is conservative, 20% is leftist, and the other 40% is just clueless. Leftists only win elections by successfully propagandizing enough of the clueless 40%.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Do you ever tire of being a sheep?

    A sheep to what, exactly? Reading things for myself and trying to learn the truth rather than simply accept your foggy interpretation of fact? If so, then no. I don’t tire of that.

    At great cost to the consumer and producer.

    Great cost? Really? How do you weigh that out reasonably? All you say is some monstrous tripe about foodborne illnesses not being very serious unless you’re over 70 (really?). You proceed to use that as an excuse and then you have the audacity to call me a “sheep?”

    Christ, it’s getting heavy in here, Dave.

    No, I think that the bill leaves the definition of facility wide open, creating the opportunity for abuse.

    Did you knock anyone over when you sidestepped the point I was making or did you check for traffic first?

    Originally it was left entirely open to interpretation, but people like me complaining about it made them put at least some restrictions on it.

    Oh Blessed Dave, I shall follow you anywhere!

    If you actually believe this then please just go check yourself into a long-term care facility on an IV of valium and leave those of us who care about the country alone.

    You think it’s that much of a stretch to think your articles are, by and large, about a disappearing America and “vanishing liberty?” Really? Dave, that’s what you always tell me they’re about. Do you even know what you’re writing about anymore?

    I simply want to make sure that my neighbors can continue to sell their produce and craft foods at the local farmers market. Is that too much to ask?

    Show me where this is threatened in the bill itself, Dave. That’s what I was discussing in my comment and you chose to call me a “sheep” and ramble about some care facility. Truth is I’ll probably need one if I keep trying to read your articles…

    I realize you just object to anything I post on a knee jerk basis, but in this case I’m taking sides with “liberal” interests and you’re siding with big government conservatives and against the people. Be proud.

    You seem to forget that one of the few articles I actually posted in this section was VERY critical of Obama. I know the memory’s bad, Dave, but try to keep up. It must be hard to concentrate with all of the constant spinning you do, plus the air must be a little thin up on your cross…but it’s not that difficult.

    I like to read things, learn the facts for myself, and I prefer not to succumb to the fear and paranoia you and your ilk love to peddle to further your own advances. You write these articles and make these comments trying to convince people you’re different, that you’re some sort of fighter for the rights of the people. Guess what? You’re not. You’re not any different than every other right-wing blogger spinning facts and situations to suit their own purposes.

    And you talk about my kneejerk reactions? That’s rich. Every single presumed violation of “liberty” (liberty for who?) ends up in an article of yours that features links to right-wing websites (not impartial websites and rarely the bills or facts themselves) and a whole lot of fear-mongering.

    If you were really standing up for all of the people, you’d quit ignoring their will and desires every time they express themselves. And you’d quit spinning their support for health care, for their president and for the lives they want to live, too. You’d quit assuming they don’t know what they’re doing or thinking unless they follow your ideology and you’d let them have the safety and care they desire.

    But this isn’t about the people, Dave. It’s about you and your little pet philosophies and ideologies. It’s about making sure you can squeeze as much of that into every word you say and every post you make. You tell me to leave the people who “care about your country alone?” If you had even the slightest touch of self-awareness, you’d know how silly that statement really was. I don’t doubt you care about your country, but I think this idea that everyone who disagrees with you and your politics doesn’t care is really, really shitty.

    And you know it.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    RJ’s blithely tossed off percentages of left, right and clueless populations are no doubt scientifically verifiable; we await the footnoted version. He certainly ascribes a lot of power to those of us in that putative 20%. Some might even refer to this worldview as…paranoid.

    Nice to see that his rhetoric is as mellow and thoughtful as ever…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “The bill Dave describes and the bill described in Friday’s newspapers seem to exist on two different planets.”

    Well, yes. The “objective” mass media is cheerleading for a bill supported by Democrats, while Dave wrote an article critical of it. So the spin in the newspapers is positive, while the spin from Dave’s article is negative.

    But at least Dave acknowledges his biases.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Dave,

    But Cindy, doesn’t freedom include the right to surrender a little bit of your liberty to government in order to have it provide you with certain necessary functions

    Yes. It just doesn’t include the right to surrender any one else’s freedom. Especially when a) A whole lot of mine and other people’s liberty has been surrendered and b) I am not getting those necessary functions.

    Always assuming it’s done with the wisdom to place limits on the power of government, of course.

    Dave, I can show you communities where anarchism works for everyone. I wish you would just seriously consider what I am saying. I don’t see any society where what you are proposing has worked. Look at how hard you are trying to make it work and it’s not. What do you think could change within this system that would really ever matter very much? It always only works really well for some and really horribly for others. That is true despite the considerations to limit power. Humans, when given power, are too corruptible. Unless the rule is no one rules, we are all equal, we all have an equal say, then there will always be rulers who are not interested in limited their personal power and authority, but increasing it. People don’t take away many laws, they just make more and more. Power, authority, and dominating are the paradigm our society is build on. It’s our framework. To expect it could be different where govt is concerned–it would be like expecting a tiger to be a vegetarian.

    The problem is power itself.

    (Silas, I wanted to post a link for you, but I have to go to bed now. I’ll find it tomorrow.)

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “just Appalachian white trash.”

    Some people would consider that a racial slur. Don’t believe me? Try referring to some inner city gang members in Detroit or Chicago as “black trash.” Al Sharpton would be paying you a visit ASAP.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “Homeland security begins at home.”

    Might need some work. Strikes me as somewhat tautological.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    #35:

    Handy, you’ve been around a while. Why do you even bother anymore?

    Link.

    “Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004.”

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “I can show you communities where anarchism works for everyone.”

    Show me one. Just one.

    In order to be considered acceptable, these “communities” have to be at least 1,000 people large, they have to have “worked” for at least a decade consecutively, and – by definition – they cannot have any rules or laws or charter.

    Again, show me one.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Dave, the “we” I refer to is my partner and myself with regard to our business. A major portion of what we do is geared completely toward small businesses in making them more efficient and competitive. Some of what we do is web development and the other side is local marketing strategies. In a way we’re like the way a Chamber of Commerce should operate — free of political intrusion. It’s hard work, not the greatest money but at the end of every day we know we accomplished something good. Perhaps a little idealistic at times but we’re starting to see gains where they weren’t expected.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    RJ,

    I have posted about the Zapatistas before. Their community, consistent with anarchism, is 15 years old. I thought this article my be interesting to you. I understand there are 100s of Zapatista communities and each community itself is made up of a dozen to 100 families.

    But RJ, the idea that a community can function without rules or that not having rules has something to do with anarchism is common, but mistaken. So, no rulers, because everyone is equally involved in decision making. However, an anarchistic community would be highly organized and would have rules.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #91,

    Not really, RJ. It was but taking Dave’s argument to its natural, logical conclusion.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “But this isn’t about the people, Dave. It’s about you and your little pet philosophies and ideologies . . .”

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jordan.
    Do you realize, Dave, how much your thinking would change, everything you post, your writings, your entire persona, if “the people” were your utmost concern and the spring of your thoughts and actions? Imagine what a little empathy could do! It turn you into a human.

    But it’s so nebulous, you say – concern with “the people.” Not really, if you’ll extend how you normally respond to and care for your loved ones, to your neighbors and people at large, and if you cultivate this mindset. It will grow.

    Of what use are the finest philosophies and ideologies, all thoughts noble or less noble, if they don’t spring from concern with humanity as their ultimate source?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    …if you’ll extend how you normally respond to and care for your loved ones, to your neighbors and people at large, and if you cultivate this mindset. It will grow.

    I think that’s excellently put.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Cindy,

    If you have a copy of Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths, reread “The God’s Script,” a four-page short story. It’s a beautiful statement of the interconnectedness of all things.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Gallup:
    40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal.

    RJ:
    “40% of the country is conservative, 20% is leftist, and the other 40% is just clueless.”

    So, moderates are always clueless. [And “liberal” and “leftist” are also identical.] Thank you for sharing. Otherwise we couldn’t have figured this out.

    Another interesting sentence from Gallup:
    Thus far in 2009, Gallup has found an average of 36% of Americans considering themselves Democratic, 28% Republican, and 37% independent. When independents are pressed to say which party they lean toward, 51% of Americans identify as Democrats, 39% as Republicans, and only 9% as pure independents.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I keep trying because I think not responding to the ridiculous rhetoric and unproven assertions of RJ and Dave Nalle and others on here would be tantamount to agreeing with you.

    RJ picked one sentence out of my [pretty good] rebuttal of this dumb article, and applied his usual whinging about the leftist media. Nalle didn’t bother to respond at all. No problem.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    We’re all basically conservative — even liberals. There are good arguments on both sides of the aisle and as I learned after a life in Catholic school — everything in moderation. The extreme our society requires is a retreat from extremes. Currently there’s an extreme going on in our military which frightens me more than Dick Cheney at a shooting gallery. The Far Right’s new insurgence into our military bears close scrutiny.

    It’s time for common sense, common decency and common ground upon which we can rebuild our foundation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re gonna have to redefine conservatism, Silas. If all you mean by it is adherence to certain eternal values, that’s fine with me. But don’t forget, that’s the crux of the matter. And it’s beyond politics. It’s got to do with individual development, with morality and ethics. As a nation, we surely got a long way to go.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    #43:

    Cindy,

    You have a different definition of “anarchy” than I do.

    The dictionary defines anarchy as the “absence or denial of any authority or established order.”

    The Zapatistas don’t fit that definition because they have organization (an “army”) and authority (commanders and subcomandantes).

    I don’t want us to end up talking past each other on this issue, since we don’t agree on the definition of the term in question, so I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    #44:

    No, that’s not what you did at all. Opposition to a particular bill before the Congress does not have “complete and total repeal of all laws and regulations regarding the food supply” as a “natural, logical conclusion.”

    You utilized the straw man fallacy by misrepresenting Dave’s position on this issue. That’s all.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I wasn’t concerned with this particular bill, RJ. You and I both know that there are abuses in the food industry and that the regulatory agencies, for whatever reason, are not doing their job. Nor was I concerned with the merits of the bill in question. But regardless of the concrete issue at hand, any step in correcting abuses is a welcome one, regardless of whether it will or will not be enforced. And the general tenor of Dave’s discussion was against regulation. It’s the general principle that I objected to, not the specifics.

    You may call it what you want – a straw man argument or whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. My intent was to flesh it out, to evoke a response from Dave. That’s more important to me than “winning” an argument. So in this respect, your characterization is off base.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    RJ,

    Perhaps we could agree to use the word anarchism, as opposed to anarchy, for the moment–just for the sake of clarity. You may wish to look up ‘anarchism’ in a dictionary, but there is a wealth of information available from historical and contemporary thinkers on the subject. They’ll be a bit more informative than one of the popular dictionary definitions.

    The definition aside, I have shown you a community that is consistent with anarchism and that works. So, I rest my case.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Thanks Roger. I will look for the story online.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Here’s one link, Cindy.

  • zingzing

    “I don’t doubt you care about your country, but I think this idea that everyone who disagrees with you and your politics doesn’t care is really, really shitty.

    And you know it.”

    nail: how ya doin, hammer?
    hammer: pretty good!
    [WHAM!]
    nail: seriously man, fuck you.

  • Bliffle

    Dave says:

    “There’s not some sort of conspiracy by big corporations to destroy small businesses…”

    But one of the sources of new business is grabbing someone elses business. I’ve been on both sides of this at one time or another. When I worked for a large well-known company we were ruthless about exploiting our big-company advantages, bragging about the superior depth of our staff vs. the small competitor, temporarily reducing prices to drive out little guys, etc. And when I worked for small companies we were equally ruthless about our flexibility to adapt, our increased vigor, the importance of the customer to us vs. the Big Guy. That’s just one of the things you do in business: grab someone elses customer. It’s easier than developing a new market.

    “… and the truth is that in many cases the things which benefit large corporations also benefit the small ones.”

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes you can find a way to fit in around a big company and form a synergistic partnership, and sometimes the Big Guy wants to learn enough to replace you and sometimes Big Guy will want to buy you, which may be good or bad.

    Generally speaking, government changes to help business fall mainly (and disproportionately) to big business because they are the guys talking into the politicians ears. Little guys don’t have that access. And the government, being Big, prefers to deal with people who are Big like them.

    “… A better climate for business is better for ALL business.”

    Versus whom? If the environment for all businesses is improved, then the competitive situation among competing businesses is not much changed.

    Most favors fall to the big guys, anyhow.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Do you realize, Dave, how much your thinking would change, everything you post, your writings, your entire persona, if “the people” were your utmost concern and the spring of your thoughts and actions? Imagine what a little empathy could do! It turn you into a human.

    Spare me the sanctimony. The people are always my first concern. I just believe that the people are best served by independence, self-reliance and a society which places as few roadblocks as possible on the road to success.

    Of what use are the finest philosophies and ideologies, all thoughts noble or less noble, if they don’t spring from concern with humanity as their ultimate source?

    I don’t know what philosophers you’re reading, but the ones I read agree that all the benefits of society are worthless without freedom.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No sanctimony intended; and there was no argument against freedom. But Jordan did hit it on the head. And if people are your first concern, your writing certainly doesn’t reflect that.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You seem to forget that one of the few articles I actually posted in this section was VERY critical of Obama.

    That’s nice, Jordan. So? What I mostly see from you is lies about Canadian healthcare and excuses for those who want to take away peoples liberty.

    I like to read things, learn the facts for myself,

    And yet you remain so remarkably impervious to reality.

    You write these articles and make these comments trying to convince people you’re different, that you’re some sort of fighter for the rights of the people. Guess what? You’re not. You’re not any different than every other right-wing blogger spinning facts and situations to suit their own purposes.

    In the broad sense I’m not different from every other left-wing blogger either. We’re all trying to do whatever we can to advance what we believe in. If we didn’t have strong beliefs we wouldn’t have the motivation to be out here expressing ourselves.

    Why is that a problem for you? Why is any attempt to challenge the status quo so threatening to you?

    And you talk about my kneejerk reactions? That’s rich. Every single presumed violation of “liberty” (liberty for who?)

    See, this is where you just fail completely to get it. There is no “liberty for who.” Liberty is for everyone.

    ends up in an article of yours that features links to right-wing websites (not impartial websites and rarely the bills or facts themselves) and a whole lot of fear-mongering.

    Bullshit. Utter, pure bullshit. And you know it. Even when I find things on right-wing websites I then go look for a primary source for that information. You should really try following my links sometime. When I provide facts I always try to go as close to the original source as possible.

    If you were really standing up for all of the people, you’d quit ignoring their will and desires every time they express themselves.

    You really have no idea what the people want. My people are apparently not your people and they clearly don’t want the same things.

    And you’d quit spinning their support for health care, for their president and for the lives they want to live, too. You’d quit assuming they don’t know what they’re doing or thinking unless they follow your ideology and you’d let them have the safety and care they desire.

    So I should let people trade their liberty for slavery and stand back and be silent? The problem with this theory is that as other people trade their liberty away and it empowers government, that government takes my liberty and that of my “people” in the same process.

    I’m sure that your people know what they’re doing. To my people that makes them our enemies.

    I don’t doubt you care about your country, but I think this idea that everyone who disagrees with you and your politics doesn’t care is really, really shitty.

    Sorry, I just don’t understand how you can oppose liberty. It makes you either insane or evil. You pick. You may think that things like free speech and privacy and property ownership are shitty, but I don’t.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    And the general tenor of Dave’s discussion was against regulation.

    Not against regulation. Against confiscatory regulation directed at small businesses and against putting the responsibility for this in the hands of an agency which is not credible or trustworthy.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    No sanctimony intended; and there was no argument against freedom. But Jordan did hit it on the head. And if people are your first concern, your writing certainly doesn’t reflect that.

    Roger, do you actually READ my articles? Everything in most of them is about people or specific groups of people and their welfare. That’s certainly what this article is all about. The whole point of it is the burden which this bill will place on small farmers and businessmen. Are they not people? Do you cease to be a person when you own something?

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You deserve a thoughtful response, so I’ll be back.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    If this bill were intentionally designed to target small businesses and farm stands, Dave might have a point.

    But the high-profile tainted food scandals that led to this bill did not come from small businesses or farm stands. The FDA will have no incentive to go after small players. There will be political pressure to prevent/investigate food contamination on a national scale. That mostly means bigger producers.

    All this fearmongering about jackbooted FDA thugs stomping through people’s kitchens is just so much organic horse manure.

    The article is so one-sided, so lacking in balance or nuance, that it can only be classified as propaganda. Dave’s articles would be improved 1000% if he would recognize his tendency to ignore and/or belittle counter-arguments.

  • RJ

    “Of what use are the finest philosophies and ideologies, all thoughts noble or less noble, if they don’t spring from concern with humanity as their ultimate source?”

    Ask Marx and Lenin and Mao.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good retort!

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    If this bill were intentionally designed to target small businesses and farm stands, Dave might have a point.

    The intent does not matter. It’s the results which matter.

    But the high-profile tainted food scandals that led to this bill did not come from small businesses or farm stands.

    As I point out in the article. So why does the bill exempt large agrobusinesses from most of these restrictions, yet keep them on many of the small producers?

    The FDA will have no incentive to go after small players.

    Then the legislation is meaningless and should be rejected on that basis. If they aren’t going to go after the small players and the bill doesn’t address the big players who are the actual problem, why does it exist?

    There will be political pressure to prevent/investigate food contamination on a national scale. That mostly means bigger producers.

    Except that they are largely exempted plus the history of the FDA is to spare large companies and go after the weaker targets.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    It isn’t true that large players are exempted. They just have a cap on how much they have to pay in fees if they have multiple locations.

    The peanut paste factory in Georgia, at the heart of one of the recent scandals, would not have been exempted. Earthbound Farms, whose organic spinach was another big news item, would not be exempted.

    What exemptions are you referring to? The $500 per processing facility is estimated to raise over $1 billion [which will still only cover 40% of the cost of inspections]. Big companies would have to be part of the picture for that figure to be real.

    Why would organizations like Consumers Union [publishers of Consumer Reports] and the Consumer Federation of America and the food/consumer unit of the Pew Trust — no friends of big food conglomerates — praise the bill?

    And this:
    the history of the FDA is to spare large companies and go after the weaker targets
    …is just another unverified assertion. The FDA has been missing in action because its enforcement arm has been so underfunded.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You may have a point there. Just like EPA. Both vestiges of the Bush era.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Ask Marx and Lenin and Mao.

    Well the others asked Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and look where that got us.

  • RJ

    #72:

    Followers of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, and the North Korean Kims butchered more in a century than followers of Christianity killed in two millennia.

  • zingzing

    the world’s population at the time of the crusades, etc was about 20 times less than it was during the 20th century–so if marx, mao, etc killed 10 times as many people as christianity, it would still mean something less than you want it to.

  • RJ
  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The Crusades were as much a defensive war as an offensive one.

    Well, yes, but I wouldn’t argue on the back of such a peculiarly skewed view of history as that National Review article. Comparing the Crusades to D-Day is a bit ludicrous, and I think that’s the first time I’ve seen Western resistance to the Ottoman attack on Vienna referred to as a Crusade.

    Also often overlooked is the fact that both the Christian and Muslim worlds were also, for significant portions of that time, waging a defensive war against invaders from the East – namely Genghis Khan and his successors. Their appearance accounts for much of the Muslim retreat from Europe during the Middle Ages in particular.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You know, Dreadful, it was Polish king and his armies that saved Vienna from the Turks – Jan Sobieski.

  • pablo

    I wonder why Dave you didn’t mention the Codex Alimentarius in this article. Or is that just a wee bit to conspiratorial for you, considering its source? Or perhaps your running off to google right now to look it up! rotfl :)