Tag Archives: Pollution

88. Ask Trump: Which Regulations?

31 Jan

Donald Trump has said it is urgent to abolish as many federal government regulations as possible (subject to certain limitations). This may sound OK to ordinary citizens, but if you study the details, you will quickly see why Trump is not more specific. The one specific law that he would terminate is the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”. He never uses the full name, because this act provides Wall Street reform and consumer (you and me) protection. Abolishing the act takes away our protections and allows banks and investment houses leeway to make more profits at our expense. When major banks and other corporations failed in 2008, you and me (the taxpayers) spent our money in saving them. And, to add insult to injury, many of the offending executives got bonuses that year. So it is the old story, rich Mr. Trump is recklessly increasing profits for his wealthy friends, and you and I will, in some way, pay for it; just like we will have to pay for his “Mexican Wall”.

The reason why all this is possible, is that corporations protect individuals from losses due to reckless actions. A corporation can go bankrupt and take the blame, while the executives escape unharmed. And, rich donors lobby congressmen to provide laws that help them financially. Note that Hillary Clinton supported this protective act.

We can only speculate as to what other regulations Trump wants to remove. He has created a rule that is absurd and harmful: that for every new regulation, two must be abolished. Good government is not a game where you ignore the consequences of what you do — it is serious business that affects people’s lives. Historically, thousands (even millions) have died for improper regulation of pesticides (like DDT), improper testing of drugs (like Thalidomide that harmed babies) and various kinds of pollution and toxins (like lead in the water).

Regulations also protect us from financial trickery designed to increase profits for corporate executives. Currently, when you get a mortgage, other type of loan, credit card, annuity, etc., you can be reasonably certain that you are safe. If the regulation of financial transactions is abolished you might have to hire a lawyer to deal with these, or risk major losses. Our world has become more and more complicated and the citizens will need more protections, not less.

Trump and most Republicans would argue that abolishing regulations, lowering taxes for corporations and wealthy people, etc., will improve our economy and the positive results will “trickle down” and help us ordinary citizens.  Why is it that every such plan starts with making rich people richer, and the middle class can only hope for some trickle down. Don’t be fooled. For many years the royalty class has prospered, but the promised middle-class benefits have not been received.

51. Flint Water and GOP Policy

17 Mar

The water problem in Flint, MI is very serious and is the subject of investigations and hearings. The entities involved in this Flint problem are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Michigan Governor Snyder, and other Michigan officials. The MDEQ officials are appointees of the Governor.

The role of the EPA  is to develop policies, conduct assessments, publish guidelines, and to provide advice. The EPA does not repair pipes, does not make specific decisions on water supplies, does not have the authority to arrest anyone, or to demand actions and punish those that do not comply.  Gina McCarthy is currently in charge of the EPA.

It is the responsibility of the states to make specific environmental decisions, to run water and other systems, to make repairs, to set charges and so forth. The MDEQ  is responsible for specific decisions and repairs.

In the current Congressional committee meeting (March 17, 2016) it has been clearly established that as soon as the EPA (and Gina McCarthy) had definite and sufficient information on the lead problem it took appropriate actions under their mission statement.  McCarthy testified that they “had insufficient information to indicate a systemic lead problem until mid-summer of 2015.”  They then immediately provided urgent warnings to the Michigan DEQ and state Governor.  The MDEQ replied that they would act on the this problem, but was slow to do so. The EPA did everything it could reasonably do under their rules. Early in 2015 there were indications of contamination, but the testing was only done on a very small sample and info from the MDEQ was faulty and incomplete. Further, the MDEQ told the public many times that the water was tested and safe.  It would have been wrong for the EPA to make a general alarm before there was definite information — but the MDEQ could have run immediate, competent testing and provided effective solutions.

The badgering and insults directed at Gina McCarthy and the suppressions of her response, by Republicans on the Congressional committee, is shameful. It reflects a general trend towards bullying, mindless attacks, and scapegoating as a GOP method of governing.  This abusive method is also a characteristic of the GOP presidential candidates. The leading GOP candidate, in most cases (more so recently), refuses to answer reporters questions and now does not want to debate. When asked a challenging question, he usually answers by crudely attacking the questioner, and by pointing out how successful his campaign is.  It is rare to get a real answer for a specific question. Violence is a part of his policy.

Republicans say that we don’t need an EPA, but at the same time, say that the EPA was not aggressive enough when faced with the incompetence of a state’s environmental agency. We should not eliminate the EPA, but make it stronger. We need to protect the people, not the politicians that ignore pollution and the industrialists the cause it.   The lesson of Flint is that we do need Federal agencies and regulations to protect our people.