Why we need more – not less – government regulation

One of the mantras of the radical Right in this country is that the economy and everything else would be better off if we just had less government regulation. Since Lincoln told us the government was for, by, and of the people, I guess this just means Republicans and other right-wingers don’t think the American people should have much say in what goes on in this country. The economy and everything else would be much better off without any meddling by the American people; just leave everything in the hands of special private interest groups and all will be well.

It is surprising how many people agree with this and think the government, i.e., they, should be cut back and regulations reduced. They think that instead of having control over their own lives, their environment, the air they breath, their jobs, their health, the food they eat, and their children’s education, they should turn all this over to unregulated or minimally regulated private interest groups to take care of everything for them.

Many people still think that they would like to control their own lives and protect themselves from the onslaught of private interest groups, and so they still support government regulations that function to protect them and their families from the rampages of the private sector.

The fact is, without regulations, the private sector acts with unrestrained greed to exploit, steal, lie, rob, cheat, and variously devastate the public sector in order to enrich itself with no regard to the well being of the American people.

Here is just one example that shows what happens to senior citizens and other elderly folks in this country with respect to the care they get from the under-regulated private agencies that provide caregivers for the elderly:

A recent study released by Northwestern University shows that many agencies hire caregivers for the elderly without any training, criminal background checks, or drug screening. As ScienceDaily puts it, “many agencies recruit strangers off Craigslist and place them” in the homes of the elderly. This happens, of course, because these agencies are working under capitalist economic rules to maximize their profits by hiring the cheapest labor possible in a basically unregulated and unsupervised market. It’s a perfect example of profits before people, which will always be the case without the iron hand of government regulation to restrain the private sector.

Dr. Lee Lindquist, who headed the study, was quoted by ScienceDaily as saying, “People have a false sense of security when they hire a caretaker from an agency. There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It’s dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired.”

Caveat emptor– the slogan of our society! Why must the burden fall on the consumer? These agencies are committing fraud by sending out unqualified “caregivers” and pocketing the money. The agencies should just be closed down and the persons who run them thrown in prison.

Dr. Lindquist also remarked about caretakers she has seen bringing patients to her clinic: “Some of the paid caretakers are so unqualified it’s scary and really puts the senior at risk.” Some caretakers placed in a senior’s home just watch TV all day and ignore the patient, not even bothering to properly feed them. The agencies try to cover up their fraud with fancy web sites and sophisticated marketing techniques some even advertise that their caretakers have been screened by the “National Scranton Test for Inappropriate Behavior” or the “Assessment of Christian Morality Test” which, Dr. Lindquist says, to her knowledge “doesn’t exist.”

What does exist is easy money for fraudsters and a blind eye from the government that is supposed to represent the people. Dr. Lindquist points out that: “These agencies are a largely unregulated industry that is growing rapidly with high need as our population ages. This is big business with potentially large profit margins and lots of people are jumping into it.” This is a big business that needs to be regulated and even supervised by the federal government and gives compelling evidence that that the American people need to assert themselves and see that the government really represents their interests by enacting and enforcing more regulatory laws that constrict the private sector from exploiting the public in all areas of civil society, and by flushing out the Right from all areas of governance.

Photo: Laid-off meat inspectors draw a connection between cuts in regulations and dangerous food ending up on the plates of consumers. AFGE


Thomas Riggins
Thomas Riggins

Thomas Riggins has a background in philisophy, anthropology and archeology. He writes from New York, NY. Riggins was associate editor of Political Affairs magazine.