As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Too Busy Flying To Check The Toys

Earlier this week, Nancy Nord, head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, was begging Congress not to give her agency more money to conduct product safety tests. It's clear now that she was just trying to save the government a nickel or two. She clearly has all the money she needs from the industries she's supposed to regulate:

The chief of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and her predecessor have taken dozens of trips at the expense of the toy, appliance and children's furniture industries and others they regulate, according to internal records obtained by The Washington Post. Some of the trips were sponsored by lobbying groups and lawyers representing the makers of products linked to consumer hazards.

The records document nearly 30 trips since 2002 by the agency's acting chairman, Nancy Nord, and the previous chairman, Hal Stratton, that were paid for in full or in part by trade associations or manufacturers of products ranging from space heaters to disinfectants. The airfares, hotels and meals totaled nearly $60,000, and the destinations included China, Spain, San Francisco, New Orleans and a golf resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Notable among the trips -- commonly described by officials as "gift travel" -- was an 11-day visit to China and Hong Kong in 2004 by Stratton, then chairman. The $11,000 trip was paid for by the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, an industry group based in an office suite in Bethesda whose only laboratories are in Asia.

The CPSC says that at the time, the group had no pending regulatory requests. But since then the fireworks group has urged the commission to adopt its safety standards, an idea that is still pending, according to an organization newsletter.

This is e.coli conservatism - a government where the regulatory agencies have been co-opted by Big Business and serve to resist all efforts to do their work, in exchange for perks like "gift travel". Corporations need only make a small investment to reap rewards hundreds of times larger.

Sadly, I don't expect Nord's resignation.

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