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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Articles

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Are Recent Mishaps in Chinese Manufacturing Letting Mattel Off the Hook Too Easily?

Again the news has headlines of items from China posing a danger to American consumers. This time itís toys made for Mattel under the Fisher Price brand name. With all of the recent stories about dangerous products from China from toothpaste to fish to animal food to toys, can we simply point the finger just at China or are the American companies to blame as well for poor quality control? While the products may come out of Chinese factories, they are sold with American labels on them. Who is ultimately responsible for the quality of the merchandise?

It has seemed convenient of late to point to lack of regulation in China for the dangerous products. There have been countless stories with opinions from every angle on why we should either crack down on Chinese goods or stop trading with China. What about the American companies importing these goods? Why is their quality control not being called into question at length? Mattel has a strong reputation for selling quality toys but when something like the recent recall of multiple lines of toys because of dangerous chemicals and hazardous parts happens you have to begin to question if the reputation for quality is deserved.

The spin control people within these multi-national companies go on the offensive talking about the unfortunate mishap with a limited number of products while completely whitewashing that their quality control let all of these products get into the market putting their customers at risk. Now they will spend the next several months pointing fingers elsewhere and waiting for the whole thing to blow over. What guarantees are they giving their consumers that this type of thing wonít happen again? Are they going to continue to do business with the people that caused the problem by using substandard materials? Sadly the likely answer is that they will in fact continue to do business with the same people because those people can make a cheaper product than anyone else which is why they started dealing with them in the first place. At what point do the dangers to their customers outweigh the risks of having companies with poor quality control producing their goods?

There is a method of quality control that could avoid these mishaps. The products can be broken down at random when completed and examined piece by piece or by component chemical in the case of goods such as food to make sure that every part or ingredient used meets with the safety standards that protect the public from harm. If one part does not meet the standards, the lot is rejected. If multiple lots fail, the run is rejected. If multiple runs are rejected, the company loses its contract. That protects consumers against both defects in the workmanship of the supplier and poor quality materials used in production whether by the main company or one of their sub-contractors. If a component from a sub-contractor fails inspection, they lose their contract with the supplier unless they can show the problem that caused it to fail has been corrected. These are harsh guidelines for quality control but when the health and safety of American consumers is in the hands of people in other countries, we cannot afford to take chances.

In addition to internal testing by the companies, the federal government should be making sure we have the funding for random sample testing of all incoming goods from abroad to make sure that they are safe. There should also be no cap on penalties for companies that endanger the American people. That goes for not just importing goods but for polluters as well. If a company is dumping toxic waste the Federal government should fine them up to the amount necessary to not only clean up the materials but to provide for the health care of any people or their children impacted by the pollution. Corporations have for too long been slapped on the wrist for endangering Americans. We need to stop this now.

While China should not be let off the hook because Mattel had poor quality control, neither should Mattel be let off the hook because Chinaís poor regulations fail to protect people from unsafe products. Both parties are to blame in this case. The Chinese manufacturer made sub-standard products and Mattel imported them and put them on American store shelves. To be fair to Mattel, they were the ones who caught the problem after the products had been released and ordered a recall. This shows that they are in fact better than companies like Hamco that refused to recall lead laden baby bibs despite two independent tests showing that the bibs had unacceptable levels of lead in them. Companies like Hamco should be forced out of business and prosecuted for willful endangerment of childrenís lives.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer - | E-mail Comments on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

The New Right to Life

I was out of the country for a couple of weeks and did my best to not watch news, read newspapers or hear about world events while I was gone. As we were at a jungle lodge in Costa Rica with no phones, no TV, no internet and, sometimes, no electricity, it was easy to do. Being away from the constant barrage of information, opinion and attitudes we live under each day can help give one a fresh perspective on things.

Of course, I did hear about the tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota. Unfortunately, in one of my earlier articles of the campaign I discussed the poor state of the infrastructure in our country and this accident and all the subsequent hand-wringing has proved my statements to be correct. Even President Bush surprised me when he took the very uncharacteristic stance of saying that we didn't need an additional gas tax to fix the problem, but maybe we should be spending the money we have in more effective and meaningful ways. I will admit that I called for an additional gas tax earlier to deal with this problem, but in this case the President is right. We need to just manage our money and what our Federal agencies do a lot better. Maybe a lot of the problem is that our Federal agencies are involved in and spending money to try and control things that they shouldn't be doing.

A perfect example of that is the main purpose of today's article and concerns a topic that was in the Wall Street Journal last week and from which I borrowed my title. The title, "The New Right to Life" concerns the struggle of the dying to try experimental drugs, alternative therapies and whatever the heck they want to do and the great lengths the FDA goes to prevent that from happening.

There is something seriously wrong with a Federal Agency trying to control what someone who is dying wants to try to do to solve the problem or prolong their life.

Quite honestly it is none of their damn business.

So what if someone wants to try something that is not "proven". Maybe it will make a difference for them or to the next person with their disease. Maybe it will show promise for curing something else. Maybe it will give that person's life just a little more meaning.

So what if what they try hastens their demise? It was their choice and they went down fighting. Isn't that what life is all about? Fighting for everything we've got and then fighting to keep it. Isn't that what liberty and being an American is about? The freedom to do what you believe is right for yourself as long as you are not in danger of bringing harm to others.

Prior to leaving on our trip I read yet another article about the FDA that left me stunned. It was about an action taken by the FDA concerning a new drug. The drug passed all its tests. There weren't any problems with the drug and yet, the FDA in its infinite wisdom, decreed that the drug wasn't necessary (there was already another couple of drugs on the market that treated the same problem) so the company couldn't make it.

So now the FDA is deciding what the market does and doesn't want or need. Are we becoming a centralized state where all production decisions are made according to what some central planning group, in this case the FDA, determines what is good for the country? Didn't the Soviets spend decades proving that this type of system doesn't work? If so, why do we seem to be heading down this path?

The answer is bureaucratic power. Our Federal Government is drunk with the power of the bureaucracy and the two major political parties will do nothing to slow that growth because they both thrive on it.

The most dangerous words in the English language these days are: "It's for the public's safety." Those words seem to give the Federal government the power to do just about anything they want to reduce your liberty in the interest of your perceived safety. Doesn't matter if it is really necessary or even prudent, but it sure is a nice excuse for a government bureaucrat to expand his power base and build an empire on the backs of our freedoms.

The Constitution is the best document every written to protect individual liberties, but Federal Agencies seemed to have morphed into these monsters that believe that you only have liberty if they want to give it to you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling for the abolishment of the FDA as it does serve a useful purpose, but if you're dying and want to try something not approved by the FDA, be my guest. It's your life and you deserve the dignity and respect of being allowed to do what you feel is best for you.

As President, I would call for all government agencies to "pull in their horns" and get back to their core responsibilities. Our Federal government is already too large and close to being completely out of control. The purpose of the Federal Government is to protect our liberty, not subject us to ever increasing federal regulatory schemes.

Frank McEnulty - Independent Candidate for President - | E-mail Comments on this article. | Visit the campaign website at http://www.frankforpresident.org



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

 

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