Comment on – Safety Panel’s Chief Says Taking Paid-for Trips Is Good Policy; She Tells Congress That When Regulated Firms Pick Up The Tab, It Saves Resources For Testing And Education On Standards.

“Optics” — a popular new buzzword in business circles — meaning the appearance of things and the impressions made…the optics of this are troubling.

 

There are legal aspects to government officials’ behaviors and there are ethical considerations. These trips are troubling from the ethical point-of-view even if “legal” or that is, not “illegal.”

 

The head of the public sector agency intended by statute (creation of agency), by federal implementation rules, by popular acceptance, and by stakeholder expectation (what do you expect from this official in terms of protecting you and your family?) — the optics of this fail betray our expectations on all counts. Better to save travel money by accepting free trips from those companies that you have oversight responsibilities for? Huh?

 

This also goes in our growing category of catchall news bits — “What Were They Thinking?” Maybe we don’t wanna know.

 

So as imported lead contaminated toys flood into US retailer shelves for the holiday season the CPSC is jetting around on the corporate host’s plane (or dollars) to promote “safety”? She’s “educating toy makwers?” Does that make you feel better now?

 

Remember, and be guided by conservative activist Grover Norquist’s sage advice to the right — “Starve the Beast!” Even if you have a statute-created CPSC, and a book of rules, and lots of stakeholder expectations — if you cut off the cash flow to regulatory agencies whose work you don’t like, you can starve them and reduce their effectiveness. Change is clearly needed here. Congressman Jan Shakowksy sums it up for us:

 

“It’s legal,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “But it is clearly an abuse of discretion. It exhibited at best enormous insensitivity and at worst outright disdain for the ethical principles of government service.”

 

Hank Boerner

 

Editor – AC

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