Political conservative pundits complain that the federal government is too big with all its regulatory agencies. What if we did as the conservatives wished, reduce government by letting free enterprise regulate itself? What if we abolished all our federal regulatory agencies except for the Department of defense and saved a bunch of tax money and manufacturing expenses? What kind of country would we have?
Let us do away with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There would be no guarantee harmful chemicals, hormones or genetic engineering went into the manufacturing of food products. Companies could put whatever they wanted into our food which could play havoc to our health. We would not know what toxic or harmful substances are in our foods. If we get ill we would not know which food substances were responsible for that illness. There would be no labeling requirements for food substances and no way to know what was organically grown or what was genetically engineered or which received toxic pesticides. They could take shortcut and unsafe methods to manufacture foods cheaper to out-sell their competitors. Medical crisis would sky-rocket. Drugs would not have to go through the rigorous testing necessary to assure their safety or to determine their side effects before releasing to the public. So we would be open to drugs from anyone wanting to claim they can cure anything from cancer to the common cold. Medications would not be made safe for kids. Doses would not be well controlled. Controls for purity and quality would not exist. Anyone could claim whatever they wanted about their drug. There would be no illegal drugs or narcotics.
Then let us consider eliminating the Consumer Product Commission. Products purchased would not be built to any safety standards since none would exist. They would be manufactured as cheaply as possible out of any material which could be harmful. Toxic substances would be use to manufacture toys. Cooking appliances and every day things such as building materials in your house would be made of cheap but potentially toxic or unsafe materials. Tools would not be built to any electrical of mechanical safety standards making them dangerous to use.
If there were no Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) then pollution would exist unabated. There would be no standards for car pollution or pollution from industry or residents. Our air would look like that of large cities prior to 1970 or like China looks today with heavy smog. Industry could dump toxic pollution in any convenient areas and pollute the land, waterways, and air with whatever it wished destroying entire ecosystems and making areas toxic for human habitation. Lakes, rivers, and streams would be polluted with industrial and mining toxic waste. Global warming would progress further than it already has. Mining, oil wells, and other extractions would occur without consideration to pollution from accidents and as a result of the extraction process.
If the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) did not exist then who would look after the safe working conditions of workers? Who would investigate accidents and improve working conditions in the workplace?
If the Department of Transportation did not exist then who would improve the safety of airplane travel and investigate accidents to improve safety of commercial air travel? Cars would be designed with no safety standards resulting in fatal accidents due to the lack of seat belts, air bags, child restraints, etc. Who would design crash standards. Safety standards for highways, bridges, and other road structures would not exist resulting in poorly designed structures and more structural failures. Freeways would largely be toll-ways.
Without the Department of Interior our National Park system would not exist for the public to enjoy. Who would regulate mining to limit their impact upon the environment?
Where would we be without the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)? No Radio, TV, cell phone, wireless computers or other national airways standards for frequency, bandwidth, etc. Without standards many of the aforementioned technologies would not develop effectively. Each state would develop their own frequency standards. A radio, TV, cell phone, etc. that works in one state may not work in another. One device may interfere with the signal of another.
To expect industries to regulate themselves is unrealistic. If that would be true then it would not have been necessary for regulatory agencies to exist. To expect each state to regulate itself in many cases would not be practical. For example testing drugs for safety is a long and drawn out process which few if any state can afford to do. If states were to regulate themselves there would be no national standards. Each state would be free to regulate or not regulate. Since there would be no national standards or methodology for establishing standards they would be designed more haphazardly by each state. This would be very inefficient and ineffectual. States would be much more autonomous, almost like different countries. You could not get consistent medications between states or know what quality of medical care you were receiving. The quality of food purchased would not be consistent since each state has its own standard. Highways would be design for the convenience of locals, not the convenience of a nation. Local commercial interests would influence state legislation of regulations even more than now. It wold be far more difficult for people to sue industries for negligence due to the lack of good safety standards to base their case on. This country would look more like it did in the 1950’s and earlier in terms of health, safety, the environment, and the technology and conveniences we take so much for granted today.
The price for good health, safe living conditions, entertaining and useful technology, and a good living wage are expensive. Sure we can be more like China and India where such standards and wages are low but are we really willing to be like a developing nations?
Here is a list of most of the federal regulatory agencies that would be eliminated if conservatives had their way:
- Center for Devices and Radiological Health
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
- Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Labor (DOL)
- Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Department of Energy (DOE)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- USEPA Radiation Protection Division