Ariz.  tea party candidate: No government regulation of salmonella

Salmonella in America’s food supply has resulted, time and again, from uninspected plants with health, safety and labor violations.

1,300 people in 22 states fell sick during the last national outbreak because they ate eggs from one such plant in Iowa.

Across the board there were calls for doing something to close the gaps in the regulations that allowed this to happen.

In Arizona, however, a Republican candidate, Jesse Kelley, for the House in that state’s 8th District, has come out strongly in favor of such salmonella outbreaks. He, like many Republicans denying the obvious need for better enforcement of health and food safety regulations, almost incredibly, espoused what amounts to “E-Coli conservatism” at a campaign rally hosted by the Pima County Tea Party Patriots.

Steve Benen who wrote a column about it in the Washington Monthly picked the story up Oct. 24. A similar one can be found here:

A voter, during a question-and-answer period, asked Kelly about the recent salmonella case that required the recall of more than a half billion eggs.

The voter asked Kelly if he would support a law that would allow the federal government, through the Food and Drug Administration, to shut down companies that have too many safety violations, such as the Iowa outfit that allowed the sale of eggs that sickened so many last summer.

Kelly told the voter he didn’t “believe what we’re lacking right now is more regulations on companies.”

“You could probably spit on the grass and get arrested by the federal government by now,” Kelly said.

The voter did not give up. “Who’s protecting us?” he asked. Kelly responded by saying, “It’s our job to protect ourselves.”

Still not giving up, the voter asked, “Am I supposed to go to a chicken farmer and say I’d like to close you down because all of your birds are half dead?”

Kelly responded: “There’s a new thing that comes along every day. But I know this: Every part of our economy that is regulated by the government doesn’t have fewer disasters, it has more.”

“It really never occurred to me that right-wing Republicans would start running on a pro-salmonella platform,” wrote Benen, “but Jesse Kelly and his tea party allies have a surprisingly twisted world view. Kelly seriously seems to believe that laws to enforce food safety are unnecessary, and may ultimately make matters worse. Just let the free market work its magic and everything will be fine.”

Benen goes on to say that it is almost impossible to overstate how radical Kelly and many Republicans are. His concern is that as lack of regulation is putting Americans who purchase food in the hospital, zealous conservatives, instead of seeking stronger regulation, propose the FDA should do nothing and that we should fend for ourselves.

The “on your own society” favored by Kelly and his fellow tea partiers ends up, many progressives note, being a society where government actually has a very definite and decided bias – in favor of the rich, the big corporations and their profits and against the people and their health and safety.

“This congressional candidate – who stands a fairly strong chance of winning…actually supports the notion of Americans playing Russian Roulette every time they go to the grocery store,” writes Benen. “I can only assume the vast majority has no idea what they’re about to elect.”

Image: Salmonella and E-coli are invisible on foods purchased at the grocery store.



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.