Shutdown 2013: Gifts from the government

The Federal government essential. The chaos that will result from an absence of D.C.’s oversight could destroy life as we know it. Photo: Gifts of the Government

NEWPORT BEACH, Ca, October 3, 2013 – Americans have absolutely no idea what the shutdown actually means. A little bit of analysis shows that not only is the Federal government essential, but the chaos that would result from an absence of D.C.’s oversight could destroy life as we know it.

You think that’s a joke?  Review a typical morning and see just how integral our leaders, and their policies and oversight, are to our lives.

Most folks’ days begin with a trip to the bathroom. If your shower head was manufactured after 1992, it has a water flow of 2.5 gallons per minute, substantially lower than was the previous industry standard, which wasted water at a rate ranging from 4 gpm to 8 gpm. 

Prior to 1994 toilets typically swallowed 3.5 gallons per flush, but now, thanks to the Energy Policy Act signed by George H. W. Bush, they now use merely 1.6 gallons per flush.

In 2006 a voluntary EPA program was created called “WaterSense.” Established to promote even better goals and compliance requirements for water use, any manufacturer that meets these goals gets to use a special label on their product. Imagine the horror of mistakenly buying a showerhead that merely meets Energy Policy Act requirements, instead of having the higher performance and neat sticker of the WaterSense-level one.

After a shower, the towel you grab has been subject to a myriad of regulatory evaluations as well. The Department of Agriculture has extraordinarily specific requirements for towels. The oversight and administrative arm of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, called the Cotton Board, “administers programs that facilitate the efficient and fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products.” It might be tough to sleep at night wondering if an array of unionized federal workers were unable to ensure a perfectly regulation-compliant agricultural marketplace, as that’s what “efficient and fair marketing” means in government-speak.

For example, if your towel was manufactured domestically using baled cotton from Egypt, your drying-off tool is within compliance. However, if the towel was made anywhere on the planet from seeds of plants that were imported to the U.S. via Hong Kong, it is an illegal product. 

How could one possibly be aware of all the laws and requirements if the USDA offices are closed? Certainly these sorts of rules are done with the best of intentions, and not merely as a result of a lobbying effort or a company’s relationship with the rule-writers.

After drying off, the t-shirt you grab should have a Federal Trade Commission-approved label. The adhesion of the label to the garment has particular standards that must be adhered to. Furthermore, the Bureau of Consumer Affairs’ regulations state exactly how the care instructions on the FTC-approved (hopefully!) label should be written. 

On the other hand, if your shorts or pants or skirt is fully reversible, and without pockets, it is completely exempt from all label laws. But, if it has pockets of any kind, the exemption does not apply.

Between the trip to the bathroom and dressing, coffee is essential. 

And coffee is an extremely important commodity to life, as well as to our over lording fine-tuners in Washington. Testing of imported coffee is a Food and Drug Administration responsibility (and if you don’t drink imported coffee – and Hawaiian Kona coffee is considered to be imported – you probably weren’t able to sound out the first sentence and went back to watching TMZ).

All imported coffee is subject to batch testing from two different agencies within the FDA. The first is under Health and Safety. The quantity of beans imported indicates the quantity of samples to be submitted for H&S testing. Sometimes a “wharf examination” is done and other times a “whole bag screening” is done. There are acceptable levels of “rodent excreta pellets and/or fragments of excreta” as well as “live and/or dead insects or other obvious filth.” 

Without Federal involvement, will your morning coffee beans have been imported with too many undesirable extras? 

After your coffee beans are determined to be relatively bug and filth free, they are subjected to bioterrorism testing. The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 lays out very specific steps for the inspection of imported coffee beans. There’s no way you want to have a cup of French Roast coffee without the assurance that would come with an “Acceptable” stamp on relevant import documentation.

Milk in your coffee?  It’s time to start taking it black. If D.C. shuts down, you can forget about the continuation of the Federal Milk Marketing Order Program that ensures that all milk processors pay milk producers the exact same price, regardless of the ultimate destination of the milk. 

Also, out the window will go the Milk Income Loss Contract Program; it reimburses ALL dairy farmers when they are forced by the evil market to sell at lower than targeted prices. Lastly, the Milk Price Support Program won’t be there to ensure that overproduction (and subsequent reduction in market prices for consumers) of milk does not happen.

There is one area of your morning routine that will continue to be unregulated by any federal agency. There are no federal guidelines for the manufacturing of toilet paper. One ply or two ply?  No one in D.C. has a say.  Size?  Not an area of Federal interest.  Sparing a square? The number of squares in a roll is completely unregulated. And that is critical, especially after consuming big cups of unregulated coffee.

When the morning routine is considered, it is abundantly clear that not only can we not go without Federal involvement in our day to day lives, but something must be done immediately about the wild-west like freedom Mr. Whipple has in making his product. 

Before it is too late. 


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