Four employees from the Peanut Corporation of America, including two brothers who co-owned the business, were indicted by federal authorities this week in connection with causing the 2009 salmonella outbreak that killed nine people. The factory was found to have deplorable conditions that included roaches and mold. There is no way to mitigate the responsibility of the owners and plant manager for the deadly conditions of their factory. But if the taxpayers are spending billion of dollars every year for the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Protection Agency, shouldn't they bear some of the responsibility for the deplorable conditions at the Peanut Corporation of America?
The recent conditions found at the factory belonging to the Peanut Corporation of America are at least partially the results of regulatory agencies failing to accomplish the most basic tenets of their charters and sacred duty to the American taxpayers who fund their bureaucracies. But as per usual, government agencies have no accountability for failing so miserably at their assigned tasks. The Peanut Corporation of America is just the latest in a long history of government failures that at times results in more government with less accountability.
The financial industry regulators are illustrative of the concept of government agencies not being required to meet even the most basic standards of competence. When Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns collapsed in the fall of 2008, signalling the beginning of a financial meltdown that still haunts this country, there was plenty of blame to go around. Unfortunately none of it stuck to the regulators whose job was to prevent institutions from engaging in the very behavior that caused the collapse. In fact, far from being held accountable, federal regulators for the financial industry had both their authority and budgets expanded, a reward for incompetence and in some cases collusion. The Bernie Madoff debacle could never have preceded for as many years as it did without compliant regulators. And yet, while Mr. Madoff was imprisoned and his son driven to suicide, the deaf, dumb and blind regulators not only kept their jobs, but prospered with increased budgets comprised of taxpayer dollars.
The Peanut Corporation of America, for those willing to have the courage to admit it, is exemplary of the failure of government bureaucracies that have become too big to be effective. And as the agencies responsible for protecting the public continue to waste taxpayer money with no accounting of their job performance, all we as concerned citizens can do is sit and wait for the next Peanut to drop.