For those keeping up with my fight against passage of the draft of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008, I want to let you know that our battle continues. Thanks to the efforts of Marie Gale, president of the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild, IBN and the Soap Guild's position against the draft law was featured in the November 11, 2008 issue of CongressDaily. The publication would not allow us to reprint any part of the article and in order to read it, you must be a subscriber to the publication. One copy of a back issue costs $34.95 so I don't think I'll be subscribing soon. For what it's worth,you can see the first few lines of the article here.
I'm sure that Congress Daily is a fine publication, and worth a lot of money (November 18, 2008 UPDATE: I just found out than an annual subscription costs $4,000!) considering the efforts required to track Congressional activities these days. However, it is unfortunate — indeed, shameful — that the urgent information we need as citizens and "consumer business owners" is available only to lobbyists, attorneys and other representatives of the very large companies that can afford to pay for and make sense out of it.
What's Wrong With This Picture?
No wonder we don't find out about the laws that affect us until it's too late to change them. It is my hope that, as we continue to wade through this particular process, we will enlighten our representatives to the importance of making critical information available to consumers in a more timely and meaningful matter. We cannot rely on mainstream media to inform us and we can't pay over $30 for a single publication.
Lately, in watching President Bush and numerous economic experts address the current global financial crisis, I've observed something significant. There is no Presidential Cabinet position that deals directly with the day-to-day concerns of consumers.
The President's Cabinet includes the Vice President and the Secretaries of the heads of 15 executive departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General. Under President George W. Bush, Cabinet-level rank also has been accorded to the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; Director, Office of Management and Budget; the Director, National Drug Control Policy; and the U.S. Trade Representative.
Who Speaks For Our Pocketbooks?
It is interesting that while all of these areas impact us as consumers to some degree, none of them specifically deals with our financial concerns as the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who are running American households. The duties of Cabinet Secretaries are to advise the President "on any subject he may require relating to the duties of their respective offices." Yet, in meeting after economic meeting with expert after economic expert, the President is not hearing from a human being who is specifically assigned to inform him of the day-to-day challenges we face as we raise families, run small businesses and generally work diligently to pay our bills.
The closest thing we may have is a non-profit consumer organization, the Consumer Federation of America. And I don't think that's good enough.
Is it Time For a Secretary of Consumer Affairs?
I think there's something wrong when decisions that affect our ability to provide for ourselves and our children are being made by the President on a daily basis without any input from anyone in his Cabinet who is assigned to advise him about us.
After 9/11, the the Department of Homeland Security was established. Do you think it's time for a Department of Consumer Affairs? I do. But then again, what do I know? Am I off base? Are there any government or economic policy experts out there with thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments section below.
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