Monday, May 09, 2005

Special Interest Takeover. A Librarian at Every Table. No. 269.

Special Interest Takeover, a new report by Citizens for Sensible Safeguards (CSS ) documents a systematic attack on public health, safety, and environmental protections over the last four years. Who are these special interests, and just how much have they taken over?

# First, we need strong protections for public health, safety, civil rights, and the environment, and these protections must be vigorously enforced. Industry self-regulation - which is the Bush administration's answer - is not enough.
# Second, we must commit the necessary resources to do the job. If we do not, enforcement will suffer and public and environmental dangers will not be addressed.
# Third, the scientific advice that informs regulatory decisions must be free of conflicts of interests, so that protective rules are based on sound, independent judgment that does not put special interests over the public interest.
# Finally, government decision-making should be transparent and open to scrutiny, allowing for accountability to a fully-informed public.
The public suffers when these principles are forgotten. The recent wave of corporate financial scandals is a case in point: corporations came to see the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as toothless and irrelevant and subsequently pushed fraudulent practices to the breaking point, cheating investors out of billions.

Unfortunately, these principles are being ignored across the board, and the failure to set and enforce needed safeguards is inviting irresponsible behavior that could have devastating consequences for public health, safety, civil rights, and the environment. We need to get back on course before it's too late.
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