The Corpus Callosum

It was kind of depressing to see the post on Effect Measure (Chemical
plants: internal dangers, external costs
) about the
half-measures being taken to safeguard chemical plants and facilities.

The chemical security problem is as urgent
as it is obvious. Chemical plants are potentially static weapons of
mass destruction: large volumes of ammonia, chlorine, highly flammables
like propane, large repositories of chlorinated organic solvents and
chemical feedstocks like phosgene and more.

The today, I saw an article about the resistance the Administration has
to strengthening the Consumer
Product Safety Commission
.  It is not only
depressing, but irritating.  (HT: Truthout)

of Consumer Agency Opposed by Its Boss

Published: October 30, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 — The top official for
consumer product safety has asked Congress in recent days to reject
legislation that would strengthen the agency that polices thousands of
consumer goods, from toys to tools.

On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the
legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairman of the Consumer Product
Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve
the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority,
double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.

The article points out that the director, Nancy A. Nord, is opposing
reforms that industry leaders are willing to go along with.
 Specifically, she does not want to see enhanced protection
for whistleblowers, even though industry is willing to accept such
improvements.  Furthermore, she opposes a ban on
lead in children’s toy’s
.  She does not think the
Commission needs a larger budget.  

The Senate is considering legislation (S.
), approved today by the Commerce Committee:

The Senate Commerce Committee is set to
vote on Tuesday on the legislation, which is sponsored by Senator
Daniel K. Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat who heads the committee, and
Senator Mark Pryor, the Arkansas Democrat who heads the consumer
affairs subcommittee.

It would more than double the agency’s budget, to $141
million, over the next seven years, raise staffing levels by about 20
percent, and give the commission broad new powers to police the
marketplace. It would raise the cap on the maximum penalties, to $100
million, from $1.8 million.


image: Wikimedia,
by Wolfgang Meinhart
Gnu Free Documentation License

Why is more funding needed?  Well, consider the situation.
 The Commission has exactly one full-time employee devoted to
testing the safety of toys.  They have a total of 15 people to
inspect consumer goods.  Considering the sheer volume of
consumer goods involved, the inspections process is only one notch
better than nonexistent.

Michael ChertoffNow
for the real questions.  How is “consumer safety” different
than “homeland security”?  I’d say that consumer safety is a
subset of homeland security, just like chemical plant safety.
 So why isn’t taking an active interest in these issues?
 Why does the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) get two
trillion dollars for a war, while the Consumer Product Safety
Commission has to struggle to get an extra $141 million?  

The answer is that DHS is not really about homeland security.
 Is exists for a different goal; call it what it is: the
Department of Profit Security.  If you
look at what they actually do, as opposed to what they say they do, you
will realize that is what they are.  They do not exist to
protect the homeland; they exist to protect corporations.