Jesse Kelly, who is a GOP candidate for Congress in Arizona attended a campaign rally hosted by a local Tea Party group. During the question and answer session, Kelly was asked about the recent salmonella outbreak, which sickened 1,300 people and led to a recall of half a billion eggs. The outbreak was traced back to a producer in Iowa, who had a stunning 20 year record of health, safety, labor, and other violations. We’ve also recently seen 29 miners killed in a mining disaster caused by a mining company that willfully ignored safety laws, and even the Gulf oil spill, where BP has been responsible for 97% of all flagrant safety violations in the last three years.
So, given that we are seeing more and more disasters caused by a small number of companies, would Kelly support a law that gave the government the power to shut down companies that willfully, flagrantly, and repeatedly break the law.
I would think that even Tea Party members would be in favor of law and order. If you break the law, and especially if you break the law repeatedly, you will go to jail. Shouldn’t the same thing apply to a company? For a company, going to jail means being shut down.
But what I find especially ironic is how Kelly answered the question, or more accurately, didn’t answer it. Here’s the dialog:
Question: Given the salmonella outbreaks that we have seen every three weeks, with the chicken industry, with pesticides and what not that they put onto spinach in order to get the salmonella. We have rules and regulations. However there is no rule mandating that they be enforced. Is there some way when you’re in Congress that you’ll have a bill passed that says instead of having companies voluntarily change, mandate that they must change or give them the ability to shut ‘em down and that goes for mining companies or anyone who has hundreds of violations against ‘em.
Kelly: Here’s the thing with that point, that’s the first time I’ve ever had that question. Congratulations on being unique. First shot out of the box, no ma’am. I do not believe that what we’re lacking right now is a lack of regulations on business. [...] You could literally go spit on the grass and get arrested by the federal government if you wanted to right now. [...] More regulation, more federal control, giving Nancy Pelosi more power, is not the solution right now.
Q: Who’s protecting us?
Kelly: That’s the thing, ma’am, it’s our job to protect ourselves. Because no one else is going to look out for your best interests except for you. [...]
Q: Am I supposed to go to a chicken farmer and say I’d like you to close down because all of your birds are half dead?
Kelly: I’ve not heard a lot about that recently, obviously there’s a new thing that comes along every day. But I know this, every portion of our economy that is heavily regulated doesn’t have fewer disasters, it has more.
Kelly essentially changes the subject, saying we don’t need more regulations. But the question they asked was not about having more regulations, the question was about enforcing existing laws and regulations.
The current situation is like having laws against murder and theft, but having no way to enforce the law. Companies are expected to voluntarily comply with the law. Isn’t this like asking people to give themselves tickets for speeding, or (more apropos to Arizona) asking illegal aliens to kindly please leave the country? But according to Kelly, it is up to you to make sure that you don’t buy eggs with salmonella, or work for a company whose mine is going to collapse and kill you.
Kelly even manages to get in a swipe against Nancy Pelosi. So according to Kelly, enforcing the laws against illegal businesses gives Pelosi more power, but enforcing laws against illegal aliens is a high priority. That’s hypocrisy.
You might want to call this “E Coli Conservatism“. If we are going to pretend that corporations are people and give them rights like free speech, shouldn’t they also have responsibilities like not breaking the law, injuring, or even killing people? When people break the law, we remove them from society. When companies break the law, we should remove them from business.