Wednesday, December 12, 2012

E Pluribus Unum, E Coli...What's the Diff?


John Stossel has two questions for you:

1.)  What's the point of having a big-ass mustache if you can't twirl it?
2.)  Why don't you people just die already and decrease the surplus population?  Or more important, the surplus regulations.
Food Bunk

With America's "fiscal cliff" approaching...
Actually, this raises a third question.  Driving off the edge of a cliff is scary, but generally easy to avoid (unless you're in Thelma & Louise or a Warner Brothers cartoon, and even then it's manageable, since if it's the former, you meant to do that, so shut up, and if it's the latter, then you're safe as long as you don't look down), but what do we do when dangerous geographical features start driving toward us?  I realize the mountain went to Mohammed (only because it had been like three months and Mohammed still hadn't returned the Mountain's hedge trimmers), and I have it on reliable authority that the hills are alive (and have fairly keen eyesight), which is fine, but I am not prepared to be chased around town by a cliff.  Unless it's Cliff Richard, because I'm pretty sure I could snap him in half like a stale breadstick.

...pundits wring their hands over the supposed catastrophe that government spending cuts will bring. A scare newsletter called "Food Poisoning Bulletin" warns that if government reduces food inspections, "food will be less safe ... (because) marginal companies ... (will) cut corners."
This makes no sense, because if they're cutting corners, why would these marginal companies add anything to their food?  Salmonella doesn't grow on trees, you know.  Okay, it grows on chickens, but still...Botulism Before Bolshevism.  Amirite?
We're going to die!
The free market solution is for each American to grow out a luxurious nose hair mustache, allowing the elongated cilia -- so effective at filtering dust and pollen, and other particulate matter -- to strain chemicals, bacteria, and viruses from their food.  Admittedly, women, girls, prepubescent males -- pretty much anyone except those old guys who sit on folding chairs in the driveway playing dominoes on upended trash cans -- might need help with cultivation.  Fortunately, there's John Stossel's Nose Hair 'Stache Starter Kit®, which includes a Minoxidil inhaler, a boar-bristle styling wand, and a tub of mustache wax made from the finest jojoba oil and premium beeswax, and available in the following scents:  Carnuba, Soup, Lemon Pledge, and Hippie Candle Shop.
Most people believe that without government meat inspection, food would be filthy.
But most people fail to reckon with the can-do spirit of entrepreneurs like Food Lion, who refuse to settle for filthy food, and bleach their pork when it becomes unsanitary.
We read "The Jungle," Upton Sinclair's depiction of the meatpacking business, and assume that the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service are all that stand between us and E. coli. Meatpacking conditions were disgusting. Government intervened. Now, we're safe! A happy ending to a story of callous greed.
Yep!  Case closed.  So why does your column go on for another 500 words?
The scheming lawyers behind the "Food Poisoning Bulletin" argue that without regulation companies will "cut corners." After all, they say, sanitation costs money, so lack of regulation "creates a competitive disadvantage for companies that want to produce quality products."
Remember when "scheming lawyers" raked in big bucks working for mafia bosses, or heartless insurance companies, or big industries that were secretly dumping hexavalent chromium into the water table?  Now they're scheming to raise awareness about public health issues, and looking out for the little guy, and working pro bono, and it looks like "scheming" has gone the way of "gay" -- yet another word that John Stossel can't use anymore without people quoting The Princess Bride at him.
But that's bunk. It's not government that keeps E. coli to a minimum. It's competition. ...Fear of getting a bad reputation makes food producers even more careful than government requires.
Which is why we no longer have outbreaks of salmonella or e coli.  Because no corporation wants to take the chance of killing a bunch of people and then getting teased about it on Facebook.
Since the Eisenhower administration, our stodgy government has paid an army of union inspectors to eyeball chickens in every single processing plant. But bacteria are invisible!
Portrait of Two FDA Inspectors at Work (2011-2012), John Stossel.  Tempera on Panel.
Fortunately, food producers run much more sophisticated tests on their own. One employs 2,000 more safety inspectors than government requires: "To kill pathogens, beef carcasses are treated with rinses and a 185-degree steam vacuum," an executive told me. She also asked that I not reveal the name of her company -- it fears retaliation from regulators.
Why would regulators retaliate?  Well, while some FDA bureaucrats grudgingly applaud the innovation and ingenuity represented by using a Rug Doctor on a beef carcass, others feel that there simply isn't much to be gained by giving a dead cow a cream rinse.
None of that is required by government. Government regulation may help a little, but we are safe mostly because of competitive markets. Competition protects us better than politicians.
We should return to the days before the Pure Food and Drug Act, when consumers were free to choose between various but equally reputable medicine shows.  Which patent nostrum would better sooth your catarrh -- the laudanum in a suspension of cane syrup, or the admixture of turpentine and bear gall juice?  If only the government trusted you to make that decision.
But people don't trust companies. So it is easy to scare people about food. And the news media know that finding "problems" makes reporters look like crusading journalists. Earlier this year, my old employer, ABC News, "alerted" the public to a new threat, ground beef made with "pink slime."

It sounds awful! ABC's reporting frightened most school systems so much that they stopped using that form of meat. The food company lost 80 percent of its business.

But the scare is bunk. What ABC calls "pink slime" is just as appetizing as other food.
I don't know who or what ate him, but apparently the Pink Panther is a good source of roughage.

"Pink slime," for those who sensibly averted their eyes from this subject, "is a processed beef product that was originally used only in pet food and cooking oil and was not approved for human consumption...It is produced by processing low-grade beef trimmings and other meat by-products such as cartilage, connective tissue and sinew...The recovered beef material is then processed, heated, and treated with gaseous ammonia...The product is finely ground, compressed into pellets or blocks, flash frozen and then shipped for use as an additive."

"Appetizing" is not a word I would use in this case; still, I guess it's better than that time Stossel spent an entire column trying to convince us to grab a pair of tin snips and cut the seatbelts out of our cars.
"Bunk is the polite word," Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center says. "ABC went on a crusade. Three nights in a row back in March, they pounded on this."

Well, why shouldn't they, if there's something called "pink slime" in beef?

"Because it's not pink slime. It's ground beef."
Bacteria respect your branding; just not as much as your gaseous ammonia.  (Can't you just imagine Dan stamping his feet when he said this?  "It's not pink slime, it's not!  It's ground beef that resembles a turd made from bubble gum.")
Scientifically illiterate, business-hating media will always do scare stories. Don't believe them.
Believe media gadflies funded by Exxon Mobil.  And tonight, celebrate your independence from Consumer Reports by enjoying a delicious, char-broiled, soft-serve steak.

25 comments:

R. Porrofatto said...

Fear of getting a bad reputation makes food producers even more careful than government requires.

That's why they are so willing to provide consumers with information:

"When officials first traced E. Coli-tainted meat to a ConAgra plant in California in June 2002, company officials’ reaction was to refuse to provide a list of customers to whom they had shipped tons of potentially contaminated meat. Health officials could have used that information to notify customers and possibly halt a wider outbreak."

And eager to nip any problems early:

"ConAgra largely ignored evidence of E coli O157:H7 contamination that began cropping up at the Greeley, Colo., plant in January 2001, more than a year before the recall and illness outbreak"

But it's okay. They only had to recall 19 million pounds of ground beef. And informed consumers could easily find another meatpacker to supply their ground beef, like say, Swift Foods, exactly how free-market competition is supposed to work.

"The ConAgra meat plant was later sold to Swift Foods Co."

Oops.

heydave said...

This ass would need a hat like a tardis, given his assholiness, you see.

KWillow said...

Just as I don't know a single woman who hasn't been sexually harassed on the job, neither do I know any people here in the US who haven't had a bout (or 10 or 20) of food poisoning. And that's with food inspection.

How can any human being over the age of 18 really believe in the "enlightened self-interest" philosophy of libertarians? Most people out to make money are only interested in getting their money NOW. If their business is destroyed 4 months from now- ho-hum! At least they got their 50,000 McVersailles!

And what are those "poor" people (with violent diarrhea & vomiting) complaining about anyway: they have microwaves! refrigerators!TV sets! Some even have low quality medical insurance! Buncha whiners.

KWillow said...

correction: 50,000 SqFt McPalace.

Weird Dave said...

May John Stossel eat pink slime and receive a steroid injection formulated in a compounding pharmacy every day for the rest of his life.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Competition protects us better than politicians.

Worked out so well with the banks, too.
~

Dr.BDH said...

That picture of Stossel, is that from his live reading of "Fifty Shades of Grey" on Fox & Friends?

Li'l Innocent said...

I can only wonder if there may be some connection between the use of this stuff in pet foods(and I can't think that it's the only product of its kind) and the skyrocketing incidence of previously rare pet diseases, like diabetes.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Dr. BDH, I coulda lived the rest of my life without that cartoon that you just painted into my pained skull. Thaaaannnnkkkkssssss.

A big fat AYYYY-(wo)MENN!!! to Weird Dave's proscribed punishment for Moustache Boy, as well as to all said by everybody else, from Li'l to KWillow to Porrofatto, HeyDave to Thunder. Well said.

Personally, I wanna use the jaws of life to see if we can extract Stossel's overinflated head from his overly-relaxed asshole. I remember when he was supposed to be a "consumer protection" reporter, a "journalist" of SOME kind, at any rate... and then he fell down the Geraldo rabbit-hole... maybe it's the moustaches?

Carl said...

It's odd how this works: The Bus administration cut funding to the FDA (and the Agriculture Department) and cases of salmonella rise.

And Stossell somehow thinks the market will, um, fix this? I guess that mustache serves as a filter for both germs and nutrition.

Carl said...

Of course, wouldn't it be ironic if, after all those years as a consumer advocate reporting on local news shows, Stossell's change of heart was due to some injury caused by a product defect that he could have reported on but chose not to because he felt it wasn't important enough?

You know, like a motorcycle helmet?

D. Sidhe said...

Actually, it was the canned peas.

He has a point, though. If you die from listeria tainted lunchmeat, you certainly won't be buying from that company ever again. And assuming anyone actually knows that's what you died from, it's possible other people might not either. Of course, people get food poisoning all the time, and assume it's any number of other things. The vast majority of food poisonings are never identified as food poisoning, let alone linked to any given product. They tend to be mild, a day or two of vomiting and diarrhea, but if you asked people if they'd like to do that three or four times a year plus a bonus ticket for the Dead From E. Coli lottery, or just pay the same amount in taxes they do now, I'm guessing people would mostly stampede Stossel to get their W-2s in order.

The worst part is, when dealing with libertarians, it doesn't even make economic sense to avoid taxes that go to health inspections. You're better off keeping the eight year old kid you have now and have invested time and money in, than watching him die of salmonella and having to raise another kid to not take to that fast food place, assuming they haven't started selling salmonella under another brand name. I mean, hey, how many ways are there to lose a kid to food poisoning? You're bound to get lucky and have one live to adulthood sooner or later.

Sure, the taxes and surcharges the companies pass along to the consumer would undoubtedly be outmatched by the cost of all that pre-natal care or lost dependent write-offs when you're between consumer self-education experiments, or even just the cost of replacing personalized Christmas stockings. But that's the price we pay to be free!


Anyway, folks, sorry. I'm not dead. The whole existence thing got complicated for a while, and kind of still is, but at least I know within three guesses who I actually am for most of the day now. I missed a lot of birthdays and celebrations, and I apologize to you all. Happy very belated events. You are welcome to get even by sulking and refusing to invite me to your gay weddings.

Scott said...

Yay! D. Sidhe isn't dead! That's kind of a birthday present in itself.

Li'l Innocent said...

Good grief and gravy, posts by Annti and D. Sidhe TOGETHER! This is the stuff of legend!

You women rock, you know.

Anonymous said...

Lil said it before I could !
Seconded.
Suezboo

Scott said...

Much as I despise John Stossel, even I have to admit that he is apparently an otherworldly being with mystical powers -- a sort of reverse Candyman, or Bloody Mary. Say his name three times in a blog post and cool people appear.

KWillow said...

... its the mustache.

James R MacLean said...

I am very very glad to see D. Sidhe again. I was missing her and am quite glad she is am the living.

Carl said...

D.!

Doc Logan said...

John Stossel isn't evil, it's the mustache. It's a symbiont, a parasite that has taken control of him and forces him to behave like a callous idiot.

The only reason the Stosselstache hasn't achieved world domination is because of its counterpart on the side of good and decency, Sam Elliot's mustache.

Keith said...

I'm sure some compounding pharmaceutical concern can concoct a Minoxidil ear spray to enhance sideburns. They'll be gray at first, but a little touch of "Just For Men" ought to do him right.

The chain collar, however, confuses me. It is much too cumbersome as a fetish accessory. But he looks so happy with it on.

Anonymous said...

(since I hadda switch to Chrome b/c deleting & reloading FireFox didn't fix the Windows-7-based problems & utter clusterfucks {aren't there ANTI-TRUST LAWS AGAINST CORPORATE ESPIONAGE LIKE THIS?!?!?}, my many saved passwords did NOT transfer over like Chrome promised, hence the anonymous of the moment, as the douchebags @ Google/Blogger still haven't sent me the password-reset shit...)

Thanks, Li'l & Suezboo, I've missed all of y'all, too! And a big fat double Ayyy-(wo)men!!! to the hurrays to see D. Sidhe again!!!

XOXOXO
L,
Annti

KWillow said...

Annti: My husband says you should go to back to Windows, preferably Windows 8 if you can afford it. Windows is designed to interact fairly efficiently with thousands of platforms (applications); Google Chrome is just a wanna-be Windows.

Cough! That's what he says. I have a Mac. It only works with stuff designed for a mac.

KWillow said...

... and I, too, am happy to see D back with us!

Anonymous said...

KWillow, darlin', I did NOT abandon Windows7, even though it is more evil than Vista & 98.2 COMBINED --- I just downloaded the Chrome BROWSER. Unless somebody can build me a Frankenputer that uses LINUX, I doubt that I'll ever be free of Windows, but dammit, I want a version that WORKS!

(Of course, none of this would be possible in the first place, without you & the hubs' generosity, my dear, dear friend!)

XOXOXO
L,
Annti