According to The New York Times of October 14th, Canada “has declared bisphenol A [BPA], a chemical widely used to create clear, hard plastics, as well as food can liners, to be a toxic substance.” This followed Canada’s ban of BPA two years ago “in polycarbonate bottles used by infants and children.” The compound can still be used in a host of products in Canada, but “the move would make it easier to ban the use of BPA in specific products through regulations.” The decision was “condemned by the American Chemical Council.”
When the United States refused to allow thalidomide to be sold in this country, even though it was being sold in Europe, we saved countless children from being born limbless and otherwise deformed. Shouldn’t we err on the side of safety with regard to BPA, especially when children are most prone to absorb the chemical and “the highest concentrations of the compound were found in teenagers, with younger children a close second?”
Our economy, still reeling from the housing crisis, now has to confront a new and devastating development -- a large number of questionable housing mortgage foreclosures. As an October 3rd New York Times editorial reports, “Since the bubble burst, efforts to rework bad loans have been slowed by the lenders’ resistance, and by their incompetence.” The article continued, “…foreclosures, the end of the mortgage pipeline, have also been handled with a disregard for rules and standards.”
Wouldn’t it make sense to consider creating a new division in the bankruptcy courts to deal with “the prospect that some families may have lost their homes in a less than legal process and that some buyers of foreclosed houses may not have clear title to their properties?”
Congress should give to bankruptcy court judges the power to remake the terms of mortgages, a reform which the Congress refused to enact the last time it examined bankruptcy proceedings. At that time, Congress yielded to the demands of the banking and housing industries. Apparently, it is those two industries that once again threaten our economy.
When Congress wants to act, as it has demonstrated with the passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the stimulus package and bailouts of the automotive industry, it can do so with alacrity.
Now is the time for Congress to step in, this time on the side of the consuming public. That doesn’t happen often enough.
The New York Times on October 8th ran a story on deportation of illegal immigrants, providing a series of statistics that are both heartening and horrifying:
“Immigration authorities deported a record 392,862 immigrants over the last year…about half of those deported, 195,372, were convicted criminals…The surge in deportation of criminals came in part as a result of a program called Secure Communities, officials say, which allows local enforcement officers to check the immigration status of every person, including American citizens booked into a county or local jail [to check fingerprints]…20,000 immigrants in the county jail system…were eligible for deportation…about one-third who were deported had committed the most serious crimes, including murder, rape and major drug offenses, according to the Homeland Security figures. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [I.C.E.] also conducted more than 2,000 audits of hiring documents at businesses to check for unauthorized immigrant workers, the officials said, bringing criminal charges against 180 employers and levying more than $50 million in fines.”
Finally, The Times reported, “Officials said that many of the nearly 200,000 immigrants deported who had committed no crimes were fugitives from immigration courts or had recently crossed the border illegally.”
For the Obama administration, this success is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it shows dramatically that when the executive branch wants to enforce the law, it can. On the other hand, the information will adversely affect the administration’s goal of enacting, after the November elections and before the next and new session of Congress, comprehensive immigration reform legislation which includes providing amnesty and a path to citizenship to an estimated 11 to 20 million or more illegal aliens. The public is opposed to these proposals, but there are Democrats and Republicans who continue to believe they can force the legislation upon the American public.
Finally, why is it that millionaires and billionaires who violate SEC rules and regulations and steal millions are generally only required to pay fines? Sometimes they may lose their licenses to practice on Wall Street, but they are not required to admit guilt or go to prison. For them, paying fines, even in the millions, is simply another regulatory fee, part of the cost of doing business. On the other hand, poor or moderate income people who are caught stealing hundreds or a few thousands of dollars, are frequently sent to prison.
Why are the wealthy who injure tens of thousands of people and steal millions of dollars during their crime sprees, not imprisoned as well?
The Honorable Edward Irving Koch served New York City as its 105th Mayor from 1978 to 1989. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org