Lack of oversight can be dangerous

To the editor:

Let the voter beware. The political spin doctors are at it again, trying hard to distort the benefits of government oversight. You hear it from “the right” all the time: “Leave the private sector alone, it doesn’t need government interference!” It perceives actions to protect consumers/workers as interference.

This “interference” takes the form of laws, rules, regulations, standards and inspections. These initiatives require the private sector to behave in a way it claims it would without government “interference” — if that’s the case, why do they complain so loudly?

Libertarians and the anti-government crowd hold the overly simplistic position — we don’t need government oversight, the private sector can and will self-regulate. This is not true.

We have two reference points to prove this. What were some of the past workplace/product disasters in America, and what are they in much of the rest of the world today, where laissez-faire rules?

Why do we need the federal oversight? Not long ago, the industrial workplace was much more dangerous than necessary; cribs killed children and strollers amputated baby’s fingers; drugs, food, air and water regularly made people sick and toxic waste was dumped anywhere. What has changed? Government regulation. Today, these calamities, while much less regular, still happen because the government’s inspection capability is constantly underfunded or blocked by anti-government advocates.

The private sector fought tooth and nail to prevent any and all efforts to significantly reduce these risks to workers/consumers. So much for letting business regulate itself.

Even today, many of our “good corporate citizens” operate quite differently in foreign countries where governments do not “interfere” with their practices.

Too many companies have proven, in the United States in the past and today in other countries, that without oversight they will cut corners on quality and disregard basic safety rules. Free markets are a very good thing, but a market free-for-all is not.

Caroline Brenner

New Boston

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