Safety for Your Family or Corporations?

So, I thought the Consumer Products Safety Commission was supposed to protect you and me and our families (and our pets) from dangerous, unsafe products. Now, an industry lobbyist has been tapped to run the Commission. I'm thinking of taking the Commission's link off our blog if the Baroody's nomination is approved. Not that people can't have a change of heart and switch sides, but considering his track record, you can't blame me for being concerned.

The Stop Baroody campaign is reprinted below:

President Bush has nominated Michael Baroody - one of Corporate America's leading anti-consumer henchmen - to head the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) - our top government agency protecting millions of Americans from injury and death from unsafe products.

For the past 13 years, Michael Baroody has served as Executive Vice President at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) - a K Street lobbying behemoth devoted to helping big manufacturers evade accountability for their wrongdoing.
The CPSC protects American consumers from deadly or harmful products - ranging from flammable children's pajamas to collapsing cribs. Now, a leader in the fight against the CPSC has been nominated by President Bush to head this important agency.

During his tenure at NAM, Michael Baroody:

Fought to allow a higher level of arsenic in drinking water:
NAM claimed that negligent manufacturers would feel a pinch in their profits if forced to prevent their waste products from poisoning local communities. Arsenic is often found downstream from negligent chemical producers and users that knowingly try to bypass EPA Regulations - thus endangering all communities downstream. A deadly poison, even in the smallest amounts, it causes shock, vascular disease and a plethora of cancers in the body.

Opposed attempts to ban tobacco billboards near schools: NAM claimed federal agencies were "silencing commercial speech without authority." Since 1998, cigarette companies have spent more than $40 million a day to market their deadly product.

Lobbied to eliminate the rights of Americans exposed to asbestos to hold the responsible corporations accountable: As head of the front group "Asbestos Alliance," Baroody fought to cut off victims' access to our courts, the only place negligent corporations could be held accountable for knowingly exposing victims to this deadly material. NAM described victims' efforts to hold the accountable those corporations that knowingly exposed them to asbestos as "an anchor weighing down the business community." Even though the risks were discovered in 1940 by the corporate pushers of asbestos, 27.5 million workers have been exposed to asbestos on the job and hundreds of thousands of workers and their family members have suffered and died from asbestos-related diseases. In 2003 alone, nearly 10,000 people in the United States died from asbestos-related diseases.

Lobbied to keep corporate documents regarding unsafe products from the public: Over the years, the release of secret corporate documents in court cases have informed the public of corporate negligence and dangerous products. Secrecy agreements allow negligent corporations to hide this information from the public, such as the Ford Pinto's recklessly placed gas tank or even BP's easily preventable refinery explosion which killed 15 workers.

Lobbied to immunize negligent corporations from responsibility for their actions: NAM lobbied for legislation that would have provided immunity to manufacturers, no matter how deadly their negligence. Corporations that knowingly place dangerous or deadly products on the market such as unsafe baby cribs that kill small children or kids' pajamas that are highly flammable would not be held accountable if Baroody and NAM get their way.

Pushed to limit fines for corporate wrongdoing that placed American consumers in direct danger: NAM testified that the CPSC "should be prevented from inflicting economic harm," thus ensuring an even lower standard of accountability for corporations producing and marketing dangerous or deadly products, regardless of the harm they cause to innocent Americans.

Worked to eliminate rules that protect and keep safe Americans in the workplace: NAM went so far as to sue the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to stop enforcement of rules regarding worker safety. NAM lobbied to keep manufacturers from having to publicly disclose how much lead they were producing.

NAM has consistently lobbied on behalf of corporations more intent on protecting their bottom lines than the public safety. Worked to immunize corporate CEOs from criminal liability for marketing deadly products to the public, maintaining such actions might slow "productivity."As an example, knowingly marketing clearly defective bulletproof vests - leading to deaths of soldiers, police and elected officials - would not be a criminal act.


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