Friday, October 20, 2006

Masterpieced Theatre

Way back in the dark mists of time, in the early days of Simply Left Behind, I blogged about a crematorium in Brooklyn, NY that was accused of bodysnatching: basically, selling parts of the deceased for use in medical laboratories and procedures.

Today, comes this story, curiously, from the BBC:
US undertakers admit corpse scam

Seven undertakers in the New York area have admitted being part of a scheme to steal body parts for transplants.
The criminal operation saw body parts removed from corpses without the consent of relatives and sold to biomedical companies.

The body of veteran BBC broadcaster Alistair Cooke was among those used.
You can read the more gruesome details, including the fact that the corpses could have been used on a "This Old House" project, at the Beeb. It's Friday, and my Mets lost last night, so I choose to focus on another aspect of this article.

Any time you introduce capitalism into an equation, shit like this happens. Whether we're talking about used cars, salvaged from floods and other disasters, being gussied up and resold as "pre-owned" for a higher markup, or laptops sold with defective batteries, it happens.

This particular instance dramatically underscores that point.

See, there's not much that a consumer can do to ensure that he's not the subject of one scam or another. That's the bottom line of life, and while caveat emptor worked back in the 18th and 19th Centuries, when you dealt directly with the people who produced the goods you were purchasing, it's not such a safe strategy anymore.

Not a day goes by that some consumer rip-off or other makes the rounds, and yes, believe it or not, that Nigerian e-mail scam draws enough suckers into it to have a serious impact on people's lives and entire communities.

Part of the job of government is to talk to these issues, to help protect consumers. But the Republicans in Congress have gutted entire departments designed in large part to offer protections from the world at large to people: Interior, OSHA (and by extension, Health and Human Services), the FDA, FTC, and FCC. Agencies and departments like that serve a higher purpose, one that the Bush administration and Cognress apparently believe is less important than fighting one-off terror attacks.

Meanwhile, these agencies might end up being our first line of defense against the next wave of attacks. Think back to the recent spinach scare. It was caused by one man who forgot to wash his hands at a processing plant.

One man nearly took down an entire agricultural sector. Now, no one would suggest that the FDA keep an inspector on-site to make sure everyone washes up after pissing, but in the past six years, we've seen major shortfalls in oversight in the meat packing industry, the pharamceutical industry, nutritional supplements (you know, like Enzyte, that "natural male enhancement"? Smilin' Bob?)...hell, things are so bad at the FDA that the head of the agency was forced to resign this week over failure to disclose stock holdings he had in Pepsi!

A fact that, you know, the SEC should have brought to someone's attention?

, ,