12 May 2008
Safety Deprivation

It seems that we shouldn’t even be allowed to check on our own safety. Here are a couple examples, below. Ostensibly they’re to protect us from ourselves by avoiding panic or loss of business (which is even worse, of course). But that’s not true — it’s about control. It’s about denying anyone outside of authority being able to independently verify things for themselves. Coincidentally, I happened to watch Men in Black earlier this evening, where Tommy Lee Jones explains to Will Smith that MiB exists for a similar reason. If the MiB memory eraser existed, just think how much easier it would be to keep us all in line.

A meat producer wanted to do its own tests for BSE, primarily so it could sell overseas, but the USDA forbids it. A government attorney argued that it could hurt the U.S. cattle industry.

But only a tiny fraction of US cattle is tested and the cattle industry has strenuously resisted any calls for better coverage. You would think that an enterprising meatpacker would test their own products and market it as safe, thus gaining a competitive advantage, especially in export markets highly sensitive to the BSE problem, like Japan. You would be wrong. Not because it isn’t a good idea but because the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) forbids the practice. We’ve discussed it three times here in the context of a Kansas company trying to test its own cattle and being told it cannot.

Now keeping us safe is illegal, too, Effect Measure

That reminded me of the “sensor permits” legislation that was under discussion in New York in early 2008.

At the suggestion of the federal Department of Homeland Security, New York City Council members have drafted legislation requiring anyone who has or uses a detector that measures chemical, biological or radioactive agents to get a license from the Police Department.

Chillrud, O’Mullan, McGillis; Sensor Deprivation; New York Times

Category: Life-Society, Sci-Tech
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