Mitt Romney’s idea of freedom: businesses free to do whatever they darn well please?

Mr. Mitt Romney spoke this weekend at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention and kicked off his remarks applauding the gun-lovers group’s defense of the 2nd amendment to the Constitution. “This fine organization is sometimes called a single-issue group,” Romney said. “That’s high praise when the single issue is freedom.

I love my freedom as much as the next person, but I sure don’t believe that background checks on individuals purchasing guns and appropriate waiting periods are a gross assault on individual liberty. We in public health consider violence a preventable cause of injury and death, and in the U.S. gun violence is epidemic in some communities. In recent years, firearm homicide for U.S. youth aged 10-19 was the second leading cause of death, and firearm suicide for the same age group was the fifth leading cause of injury death.

I’m skeptical of politicians and pundits who extol in speeches the virtues of the free enterprise system but fail to acknowledge the abuses that can come along with it. Because a true free-market system only exists in text books, regulations are needed to compensate for its malfunctions. Mr. Romney conveniently forgets that fact.

His speech went on like this:

“…This President is moving us away from our Founders’ vision. Instead of limited government, he is leading us toward limited freedom and limited opportunity. …The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality. …Under President Obama, bureaucrats are insinuating themselves into every corner of our economy, undermining economic freedom. They prevent drilling rigs from going to work in the Gulf. They keep coal from being mined. They impede the reliable supply of natural gas. They tell farmers what their children can and can’t do to help on the farm.”

No drilling in the Gulf? No coal being mined? No children toiling on their parents’ farms? I’ll let PolitiFact and others tackle those untruths and exaggerations (here, here, here, here, here.) Mr. Romney went on:

“…If we continue along this path, we’ll spend our lives filling out forms, complying with excessive regulations and pleading with political appointees for waivers, subsidies and permission. That path erodes freedom. ….Instead of expanding the government, I will shrink it. Instead of raising taxes, I will cut them. Instead of adding regulations, I will scale them back. The answer for a weak economy is not more government. It is more freedom!”

Mr. Romney is short on details, but in his free enterprise vision may mean that businesses could be free to do whatever they darn well please. The heck with those pesky regulations to protect public health and safety.

Away with rules requiring coal mine operators to check regularly for explosive methane gas;

Away with rules requiring refineries from spewing toxics into the air;

Away with rules requiring construction companies from securing 300-ton cranes;

Away with rules requiring healthcare workers from wearing radiation badges;

Away with rules requiring demolition companies from removing asbestos in a self-contained environment;

Away with rules requiring guards on machinery, brakes on equipment, and railings around elevated walkways;

Away with rules requiring manufacturers from providing workers information on the chemicals to which they are exposed;

Away with rules requiring water utilities from disinfecting the water piped to our homes;

Away with rules preventing children from working in coal mines;

Away with rules limiting the hours of work for airline pilots;

Away with rules requiring farmers from providing drinking water and toilets to farm workers.

Mr. Romney must think that many of us long for the days when our waterways wreaked with industrial waste, our autos exploded on impact, and we’d watch Walter Cronkite reporting on a coal mine explosions or construction project disasters. I sure don’t.

His latest stump speech is just another example of the Republican front-runner being incredibly out of touch.

Comments

  1. #1 starskeptic
    April 17, 2012

    “Mr. Romney is short on details”
    I thought this was going to be his campaign slogan…

  2. #2 Lyle
    April 17, 2012

    One could go to a system with no regulations but a mandatory payout of say $12,000,000 for each death and less amounts for injuries (no fault the employeer would pay). Reading some books on the history of the rail road industry, as costs mounted up safety campaigns took place. According to leaders count one of the big causes of accidents was leaping on and off moving trains, so it was made a fireing offense to do so.
    I picked $12,000,000 as it is twice the number typically used in cost benefit analysis as the cost of a life.
    Make the number high enough and the employeer makes workplace safety a concern due to the hit to the pocketbook.

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