Opinion: After Loose Airplane Seats and Salmonella, Why isn't Deregulation a 2012 Issue?

Of the many different issues both presidential candidates are trying to emphasize, a big one is the matter of 'deregulation.' The Democrats want to regulate banks and other businesses in order to "protect consumers" and the Republicans who want to deregulate and “get government off the backs of business.”

Ask the American Airlines passengers whose row of seats came loose and fell backwards last week if they think government regulation of airline safety should be reduced. Ask the people who became ill with salmonella when they ate contaminated peanut butter if government regulation and inspection of food plants should be reduced. A total of 240 different products are now subject to the peanut butter recall.

What about the folks all over the United States who received spinal steroid injections to relieve pain and are now holding their breath to see if they develop symptoms of meningitis. You’ve seen the stories about injections made at New England Compounding Center of Framingham, MA a pharmacy that “compounds” medication and sells them all over the country.

These outfits fall between the state and federal regulatory cracks and so no one regulates them. Apparently the compounders are supposed to meet some sort of minimal standards. Wow really? No extremely diligent regulations for injections designed to go into your spinal cord!? If I want to start a salon and cut and style hair I need to be certified and I get inspected. If I want to sell tacos I need a load of permits and I get inspected. But if I want to cook up some meds to shoot into your spine, not so much!

It is hard to believe that Americans will actually vote for candidates at any level who want to let companies big or small set their own rules and not take into account the rights and interests of consumers.

It’s daunting and depressing not to see more storytelling in this election campaign of the tragedies of not having robust and sufficient regulation of services and products. It’s distressing that the Republicans have staked out a position on the ”absolute deregulation” end of the political spectrum. I don’t understand. Don’t Republicans get spinal injections? Don’t their kids eat peanut butter?

The “deregulation regime” approach relies on lawsuits to punish perpetrators rather than proactive prevention. Have you ever tried to sue your credit card company, bank, dry cleaner, or boat shipping company? It is a daunting, expensive, time consuming and extremely difficult way of correcting dangerous or deadly mistakes made by companies.

After his poor performance, if I were Barack Obama I’d talk meningitis at the next presidential debate.“Mr. Romney, what’s your position on the need for regulation by the federal government of pharmacies that compound pharmaceuticals injected into the spine by doctors, clinics, and hospitals all over the US which have the fungus Aspergillus that has killed patients?”

BOOM! Debate won. Deregulation and politics 2012. It’s not such a complicated problem at all is it?