Government Regulation and Licensing

I recently posted about my experience with plumbers and gutter guys.  I discovered that plumbers were horrible at communicating, showing up on time, being proactive and delivering.  Gutter guys, on the other hand, not only call ahead to confirm appointments, show up 5-10 minutes early and deliver quotes on time.  They also include the added benefit of bringing the beer.

Hard to beat.

Both professions are being hammered by the recession.  And you can make the argument that the gutter guy is hit harder; his is a discretionary expense.  Both need the work and as groups, should be equally motivated.  They weren’t.

My conclusion?

One is a licensed and regulated industry.  The other isn’t.

But isn’t government regulation necessary in certain industries?

I argue no.

What can more critical to a nation than the regulation of it’s food supply?  Who keeps the milk fresh?  The meat non contaminated?  The veggies not covered in poison?

The USDA, that’s who.

But they don’t.  And we shouldn’t be surprised when they aren’t.

DES MOINES, Iowa — U.S. Agriculture Department employees working full-time at two Iowa egg farms at the center of a salmonella outbreak and massive recall ignored complaints about conditions at one site, two former employees say.

The ex-workers at Wright County Egg facilities, Robert and Deanna Arnold, said they reported problems such as leaking manure and dead chickens to USDA employees, but nothing was done.

Farmers, the folks who KNOW the industry, reported the problems to the regulators.  The  industry self-regulated itself.  But the only recourse they have is to report themselves to the governmental regulating body; in this case, the USDA.

The result:

“It didn’t matter which USDA officer was working, if we reported something they would just turn their heads,” Deanna Arnold said. “They didn’t care.”


The USDA employees were based next to areas where roughly 7.7 million caged hens laid eggs at the two operations, but agency spokesman Caleb Weaver said their main duties were “grading” the eggs and they weren’t primarily responsible for looking for health problems.

Arnold recalled that when she advised one USDA employee of a problem, she was told to ignore it.

“She just said go back to doing your job and that there was nothing they could do,” Deanna Arnold said.

And why was THAT?

It’s not because government workers are programmed into ugly uncaring ogres.  It’s because they aren’t managed with the correct incentives.  When faced with a problem that literally isn’t their job; they are conditioned to ignore it, not react to it.

It’s not their job:

The incentives to carry out their primary functions are way more powerful than to act with independent thought.

Not only SHOULDN’T the government be in charge of regulating out industries [chicken farm safety – oil rig safety], they simply CAN’T.

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