An interesting radio piece from a couple of days ago commented on a new group U.S. President Obama should pay attention to in his State of the Union speech, the Mad as Hellers. The presenter was talking about how there are essentially two groups- those on the right who are worried about big government and those on the left who are worried about big business and finance. Personally, I’m worried about both. But what I find even worse is the collusion of the two.
When the former head of the CDC goes on to lead the vaccine divison at Merck or the former Monstanto exec gets nominated to negotiate agricultural policy, this hardly seems like coincidence.
I’ve heard some say that it’s because these folks are highly trained in their field and have industry experience, so are desirable recruits for the administration. That could be true. However, it doesn’t give me much faith that they’ll focus on doing the right thing. We need to be able to trust watchdog groups, like the Center for Food Safety or the FDA, will safeguard the public interest. How can this leadership come from people who spent their careers aligned so strongly with one side of an issue over another?
Getting money out of politics in the way of campaign finance reform, Robert Reich’s solution at the end of his piece, is likely to help. However, I think it’s going to take a much bigger change to shake the foundations of our current system. Americans are starting to wake up, but what is that really going to do? Just being mad as hell is not enough. It’s going to require action, and at this point nobody seems to have the pull to bring the various groups together towards any meaningful consensus.