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Straight Up

Bob Richardson

O.K., where did we leave off with “alphabet agency agony?”Food & Drug Administration: Can we even count the approved drugs that were later pulled off the market, many of which proved lethal? Thalidomide, Baycol, Phen-fen, Lotronex are examples. The FDA is absolutely and completely in the pockets of major drug cartels. Unabashed protection of the cartels’ patents and profits come at the expense of the health and well-being of all Americans.And how will we ever calculate the lives that have been harmed or lost because of perfectly viable drugs that they haven’t approved because they aren’t patentable and therefore the drug companies can’t make any money off of them?Why do you think there is such a hot black market for drugs (and treatments) in Mexico and Europe? If someone you love is seriously ill, you’d better be finding out. It’s one thing for our bureaucrats to beat us up – but kill us – that’s where even liberals might draw the line!U.S. Department of Agriculture: I read in the Denver Post recently that the USDA polluted the municipal water supplies of 115 Kansas towns by spraying surplus grain storage silos with carbon tetrachloride to prevent rodent contamination. And the surplus was created in the first place by – you guessed it – USDA subsidies. What a concept. What a government. We’re talking 4,400 silos here, and the total ground area isn’t even known, although many folks are suffering toxic gases in their homes. Worst of all, most areas aren’t even tested yet and Big Brother has no intention of fixing the problem or making reparations. Can you fathom the “national emergency” if a microscopic speck of this contamination was found in Washington, D.C.? Those boys bailed out of the Capitol building when someone whispered “anthrax” across town!U.S. Postal Service: This is not directed at our local post office, as our folks, by whatever stroke of luck, seem as capable and caring as one could ask.But nationwide, this outfit is a disgrace. A monopoly, and therefore a stranglehold, on first-class rates has created a monster in terms of mismanagement, misallocation of resources (palatial post offices and now no money) and unacceptable service.The employees themselves will tell you that management is incompetent, petty, grossly top-heavy and overpaid. The personnel code is so bureaucratic that no one can be fired for any reason – including hiding mail in their basements, outright disposing of mail, losing whole trucks for weeks, etc.And expensive. Wow! Thirty-seven cents for one letter. Kind of like boiling a frog to death. He won’t jump into boiling water, but he will stay in a pot being heated to boiling, as it is so gradual he never feels it until too late.First-class rates rise two to three pennies at a time. I’ll bet the cost would be less than 15 cents if open competition was allowed. The department makes much of “not being subsidized by Congress” and “paying its own way,” but they forget to tell us they just got $500 million. I guess 1/2 billion doesn’t even count for the Post Office or Congress!The very existence of Fed Ex, UPS and Airborne Express says it all. Even with the full force and assets of the federal government behind it, the USPS can’t compete in price or reliability. And although it staggers the imagination, the USPS gets even more holidays and time off than Congress!U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service: The deficiencies here hit home also. (Maybe your home.) GAO says these boys just aren’t prepared for fires. The harshest criticism is that they lack uniform standards for judging performance, and then only within each agency’s boundaries. Sound bureaucratic enough for you? The National Fire Plan was just passed in 2000, but many of the ideas were part of the 1995 national fire policy – that was seven years ago. The 2000 plan is still not implemented, even though most of it was put into black and white as early as 1995. Estimates are it will take two to six more years to update! Go get `em, guys!How much more can you take, folks?U.S. Department of Energy: Now these folks are really delivering, aren’t they? Oh, my, we’re out of the woods on energy needs. You betcha.Military preparedness. We’re dancing around Saddam Hussein’s nuclear mulberry bush because we don’t have the men or matriel to take him on now. And by world war standards, what we have expended in Afghanistan is insignificant. And 35-year-old helicopters crashing left and right. How many 35-year-old government limousines do you think we have in Washington, D.C.? Hats off to Slick and the liberals, here.Next time we’ll talk about why we who pay more in taxes than we do for food, shelter and clothing, tolerate this nonsense.Thanks for listening.Bob Richardson’s column runs every other Friday in the Post Independent.


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