Real Stories about the Benefits of Regulation Emerge Ahead of Senate Hearing
by Rick Melberth*, 6/22/2011
For months, the country has been bombarded with increasingly negative and misleading messages about federal regulation, and Congress has responded by launching attacks against public protections that safeguard our air, our water, our food, our workplaces, and our economy. What's been missing from these anti-regulatory broadsides are examples of the benefits of regulation, but such stories emerged earlier today during a Coalition for Sensible Safeguards press call.
The call, held one day before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to discuss a variety of legislative proposals targeting regulation, featured four speakers from diverse backgrounds: Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen (a co-chair of the coalition); Mike Krajovic, the president and CEO of the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council in Pennsylvania and a member of the American Sustainable Business Council's steering committee; Margo Moskowitz, a native of Virginia (she now lives in Georgia) who suffered a severe case of E. coli infection from cookie dough; and Cathy Stoddart, a registered nurse at a Level 1 trauma center in Pittsburgh, PA.
The speakers illustrated the benefits of regulation and provided examples of what happens when sensible, effective safeguards are not in place. Moskowitz, for instance, told a powerful story about her foodborne illness experience several years ago, the effects of which she is still living with today. Stoddart noted that before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cracked down on needle safety issues, nurses and other health care professionals were frequently falling victim to needlesticks; one of her colleagues eventually died after becoming infected with hepatitis from a needlestick. Stoddart said that since needle safety rules have been in place, incidents of hepatitis and other infections from needlesticks have fallen dramatically, preventing untold illnesses and deaths among health care workers.
Krajovic said that small business owners want to do the right thing, especially considering that much of their success is based upon the quality of life in the communities in which they live and work. During the call, he said that many small businesses are "naturally doing what's naturally right" and are playing by the rules on a daily basis. He also stressed that Big Business and its allies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, do not speak for the small business community and have what he called a "myopic" view of public protections. Without regulations, he said, communities suffer from the irresponsible actions of these big corporations, such as shipping jobs overseas.
These stories and others like them show that public protections are critically important. Hopefully, lawmakers in the Senate and beyond will start listening and will come to understand that legislation that delays critical rules and prevents agencies from effectively protecting the public is counterproductive and poses a threat to the health, safety, and quality of life of the American people.