CNN's Dobbs: Many Government Agencies 'Disappointingly Incompetent'
DOBBS: Well, I'm very sorry that Julie Gerberding and the CDC is frustrated. But I'm a little more concerned about the fact that the American consumer right now is absolutely vulnerable. When the two agencies, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration still, after more than two months, don't have a clue as to what is going on here.
SCHIAVONE: It's just an astonishing turn of events. We know that the first case was recorded in early April. This thing is not only going on, but it shows no signs of pulling back. And as you say, they just don't have any idea what the cause is.
DOBBS: And yet, we do not have any indication whatsoever that the Department of Health and Human Services is in any way mobilizing extraordinary resources for the FDA, for the CDC to go about inspecting and trying to contain this outbreak.
SCHIAVONE: They just don't know what to do. That's the really amazing thing about it. They just don't have any idea what to do. Now, they're trying to intercept these specialty products. The cilantro, the specialty peppers, ingredients that are found in salsas. But, really, you know, this could just be another shot in the dark.
DOBBS: Well, another shot in the dark, it is more incompetence. Secretary Mike Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services, you know, perhaps he could ask his friends in China what to do. Because this administration is operating with abject irresponsibility and this borders on absolutely criminal negligence on the part of this administration and the leaders of these two departments. This is just inexplicable.
SCHIAVONE: Well, the truth is that as consumers, we're all vulnerable. So now the number is up to almost 1,000. We know that that can be multiplied by between 30 and 40. So potentially 40,000 Americans affected by this. There are no answers. When you go to a grocery store, when you go to a restaurant, you have absolutely no idea what you should buy, what you should feed your family. You have no idea how vulnerable you are.
DOBBS: Well, unfortunately, I think we're all getting a sense of that vulnerability. And we're certainly getting a sense of how, well, disappointingly incompetent so many agencies that we depend upon in the federal government are in their efforts, in their, at least, responsibility, if not their efforts, to protect the American consumer. Louise, thank you very much. Louise Schiavone, in Washington.
Certainly the salmonella outbreak should be taken seriously. The FDA appears to be doing what it can to trace its origins so remedial action can be taken. At the same time, it's worth noting that, according to a Monday Reuters report, in the three months since the illness began striking people, there have been fewer than 1,000 cases of the poisoning and 130 people have required hospitalization.
Again, I'm not minimizing the seriousness of an illness. In a nation of more than 300 million, however, it doesn't seem as though Dobbs's anger is proportionate to the extent of the problem.
By their very natures, bureaucracies are inherently inefficient. Always counting on immediate, comprehensive, and effective action isn't a reasonable expectation. Ironically, Lou Dobbs has suggested that he'd like to place our health care in the hands of the same disappointingly incompetent Federal agencies that irritate him so much.
In December, 2006, Dobbs hosted on his program a "Special Edition: War on the Middle Class." He said:
"We can talk about national healthcare, universal healthcare coverage. Call it what you want to. But this country has a responsibility to all the people in this room and Americans, all but the very poor and the very rich, are the ones being hammered, because there is no program for the middle class."So Dobbs believes it's the government's responsibility to provide a healthcare program. Why would he imagine the agencies charged with that task would be any more efficient than the FDA, which displeases him so much, has been?
Some in the mainstream media, like Lou Dobbs, find fault with government programs and departments. That's fine. Yet at the same time they promote new programs and departments for the government to operate. Now there's something to get angry about.