DownsizeDC.org
September 9, 2008
Mad Cow or Mad Bureaucrat
By James Wilson

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"The consequences of USDA - and now the courts - denying voluntary BSE testing effectively shield the less innovative, less nimble and less responsive beef processors from the competitive capacity of cutting-edge beef processors like Creekstone." - Blll Bullard

SUBJECT: The Cure For Mad Bureaucrat Disease

Of the 35 million cattle slaughtered each year, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) tests about 1% for BSE, or Mad Cow Disease. But Creekstone Farms wants to test 100% of the cattle they process, at their own expense.

The USDA won't let them, and the USDA's rule has been backed by the federal courts. You see, if Creekstone tests all its beef and boasts of it in its marketing, their larger competitors could feel obliged to do the same, and this additional expense may lower their profit margins or raise the price of beef.

Just three cases of Mad Cow disease have ever been discovered in the U.S. You are far more likely to choke to death on a piece of steak than eat any Mad Cow meat. If Creekstone wants to sell higher-priced meat to pay for a seemingly unnecessary test, that does not mean their competitors will have to follow suit. Their untested meat would have the advantage of a lower price. The public should choose for themselves whether they want 100% protection from the rare Mad Cow Disease, or a lower price.

Also, export markets like Japan and South Korea are very concerened about Mad Cow Disease. Creekstone wants to do these tests mainly to cater to them. By preventing Creekstone from testing for BSE in all its cattle, the USDA is:

* preventing a safer product from entering the market, undermining the alleged rationale for government regulation and control of industry.
* denying Americans the opportunity to decide for themselves, in the "land of the free."
* hurting America's trade balance.

Imagine Congress passing a law that prevents a private business from voluntarily making its product safer than government standards, in order to protect Big Business.

The uproar would be incredible.

But Congress did NOT pass a law against Mad Cow testing. The USDA made it up on its own own.

To be more precise, Congress did pass a law back in 1913, called the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act. It was designed to prevent the sale of dangerous or ineffective animal medicines. But this Act and subsequent revisions gave the USDA power to make both broader policies and more specific regulations. Even though testing for the incurable BSE doesn't seem to fall within the intent of this Act, the USDA has been given very broad discretion. In short, Congress never said private businesses can't test for BSE.

But the USDA did.

When Congress delegates lawmaking to the Executive Branch, the result is Mad Bureaucrat Disease; insane regulations that sacrifice freedom and the public good for the interests of a few powerful corporate lobbyists.

But DownsizeDC.org has the cure for Mad Bureaucrat Disease.

The Write the Laws Act would force Congress to write specific legislation, with no details left to the bureaucrats. Yes, Congress may need experts to advise them in drafting the rules and regulations. But Congress still has an obligation to write the rules, read the rules, debate the rules, and vote the rules into law. That's because Congress is ultimately accountable to the people, and bureaucrats are not. The Write the Laws Act would prevent an out-of-control bureaucracy from doing something so mad as banning Mad Cow testing.

Tell Congress to introduce and pass the Write the Laws Act. In your personal comments, tell them about the USDA's ban on Mad Cow testing, and ask them to write legislation overturning this ban. Tell them unelected bureaucrats should not have the power to make laws. Tell them there should be no "legislation without representation." You can do so here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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