Bureaucrat Beat: Power to the People! Bad Stuff, and Community Feeling

In the dark corners of the Bureaucrat Best newsroom, the light will crouch more dimly in a day or two. You know, the Daylight Savings deal. Who came up with this? So, as the days grow shorter and now darker, this leads us to serious thought about our way of life. As we contemplated the impending darkness, we hit on a theme: Power to the People!

Okay. We know it’s been done before, but the phrase shot out of the pieces of information we reviewed as a clear theme. First, Congress. They are the branch of government that most closely represents us. We elect them, they come from our states and towns. So, it really hurts when they just cave in to the executive branch – that’s Dubya and Cheney – when they insist they are above the law.

Hello! Congress, stand up for us. We do want to be heard. Remember? That’s what it’s all about here in the US. Oh, we forgot, you’re too busy collecting campaign funds from mega corporations – agribusiness, the insurance business, the pharmaceutical business. We forgot! Those are your real constituents.capitol.jpg

People can take back power from the pharmaceutical giants. Don’t buy their drugs! In fact, right now, they’re running TV ads to get children to take sleeping pills. Seems America is the only company that lets drug companies run TV ads. Most countries prefer to leave drug prescribing to doctors.

The government could help protect the public from these kinds of abuses. This week, a list of the world’s worst products appeared in the news, including the TV ad pushing sleeping pills on school kids. Other bad stuff – Coca Cola’s Dasani bottled water which comes from – tap water! Costs a heck of a lot more, though. And the winner and champion of bad stuff – the toymaker, Mattel for its global recall of more than 19 million products made in China because of high lead levels.

While news proliferated about bad consumer products, seems that the Administration’s Consumer Product Safety Commission refused a bigger budget to improve protection of the public. Say, what!?

Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the product safety commission, asked lawmakers not to approve legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff. These are the people who charged with protecting us against dangerous products. Reports say that its staff numbers about 420 which is about half the size of the staff 25 years ago.

Ms. Nord opposed maximum penalties for safety violations, opposed methods to make it easier for the public to report faulty products, opposed protection of industry whistle-blowers and opposed prosecution of executives of companies that willfully violate laws.

How can people have power with bureaucrats like Ms. Nord trying to make sure they have no power. She seems more interested in bad businessmen. Maybe we should call it the Consumer Product Who Cares? Commission.

Antidote to the heartless, materialistic bureaucracy? The love of people for each other in our communities. We can’t count how many times we have heard people say they were just amazed at how community members come to the aid of one of their own who suffers a loss and is hurt by life.

We’ve all experienced it, and it happened again with the funeral services of 23 year old US Army Specialist Wayne Geiger. People, with tears in their eyes, lined the streets as his coffin passed by from Bishop to Lone Pine. Hundreds came to comfort his family, feed the guests in Lone Pine.

There are many repeats of this story in all of our towns, on smaller and larger scales. As one man put the aid he experienced during a family tragedy, “It was amazing and humbling.”

Suzi Scott, manager at El Dorado Bank in Bishop, decided to go to an evacuation center near Santa Clarita to help fire victims. She had suffered a fire, and she knew the pain. Before she left, Suzi told us that too was overwhelmed with community response – countless donations.

Like we said at the start of this – Power to the People and Power of the People. It’s a wonderful thing.

With that, this is Benett Kessler, signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your views on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.


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