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Make Trichinosis Great Again

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Another Trump administration blow against the Establishment on behalf of the working class:

The Trump administration will allow pork plants to reduce the number of Department of Agriculture line inspectors assigned to them and run their slaughter lines without any speed limit under a new rule intended to modernize an antiquated inspection system. But the changes have alarmed consumer advocates who believe the rule will make food less safe and endanger workers.

The new rule will let factory workers, rather than USDA inspectors, remove unsuitable carcasses and trim defects in plants that opt into the new inspection system. USDA inspectors will still examine the carcasses, but they will be stationed farther down the line, and off-line inspectors will be roaming the factory to conduct other kinds of safety checks.

Nothing could possibly go wrong.

As Krugman says, I don’t even think this is driven primarily by corporate profits:

No, there’s something happening here that goes beyond big money trying to get even bigger. Trump, I’d argue, is tapping into a grass-roots phenomenon — let’s call it regulation rage — that is more about psychology than about self-interest. It’s a syndrome that only afflicts a minority of the population, but it’s real, it’s ugly, and it can do a remarkable amount of damage.

What do I mean by regulation rage? It’s the startling anger evoked by government rules intended to protect the public, even when those rules aren’t especially onerous and the public interest case for the rules is overwhelming.

I think I first became aware of regulation rage back in the 1980s, when a local Massachusetts talk-radio host led a temporarily successful jihad against the state’s seatbelt law. (The state reinstated the law after its repeal led to a surge in traffic fatalities.)

However, the phenomenon really came into focus for me a decade ago, when I read a rant by the right-wing commentator Erick Erickson suggesting that government officials should face violent retribution for their actions: “At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?”

What was the policy that set Erickson off? Washington state’s ban on phosphates in detergents. Phosphates are a real environmental menace, which can help cause toxic algae blooms. But never mind; Erickson was enraged because, he claimed, his dishwasher wasn’t working as well as it used to. If threatening violence over your dishwasher sounds crazy, that’s because it is; but undoing dishwasher regulations has, it turns out, become an important conservative cause.


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