Federal Reserved

By Bill Maher

Years ago, our friend Grover Norquist famously said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Because when you’re constructing a metaphor people can get behind, what better imagery than that of murdering an infant? But it’s a popular sentiment these days – that the government is evil, intrusive and way too powerful. But is it powerful, really? Besides our out-of-control law enforcement and spying apparatus, how has our oh-so-evil and powerful government intruded to get anything done lately?

To the contrary, it seems government has been bullied, pantsed and made to say uncle by an even more powerful corporate America. For example, the EPA has suggested that rodenticide companies voluntarily stop poisoning our kids and cats, and at least one said, “Sorry, no can do. Rat poison is our big seller.”

And a recent USA TODAY editorial pointed out how deadly superbugs are evolving faster than current antibiotics can cure, mostly because farmers are pumping their livestock full of antibiotics “to promote growth or prevent infections before they even occur.” We’re getting plumper chicken breasts and the beef industry is enjoying bigger profits and the only cost to us is vulnerability as a species to untreatable infections. What a deal!

USA TODAY explained, “But neither Congress nor the FDA has acted to curtail the broad dangers. The well-financed agriculture industry has won most rounds. And regulators have dragged their feet. Instead of mandating strict limits, the FDA has issued ‘guidance’ calling on drug makers to stop selling certain antibiotics for unnecessary livestock use, and on farmers and ranchers to stop using the drugs for growth… Will drug makers and farmers really volunteer to give up tens of millions of dollars in profits without a government requirement? The FDA would give drug makers three more years to comply with its guidance, which still needs final administration approval. That seems like a long time for excessive use to continue and for bugs to keep getting stronger.”

If the U.S. government can’t make companies stop rat-poisoning our children or danger-dosing our food supply, is it really that big and powerful?