Defining the United States by Economics – Do We Only Stand for Wealth?

July 28th, 2009

Bob Herbert summed it up nicely in his column, “Chutzpah on Steroids” (7/14/09) in which he marvels at the engineers of our economic meltdown who now insist no meaningful oversight of their nefarious activities is required.

Interesting choice of words for your title, Mr. Herbert. The rush to economic prosperity for the few is also at the expense of the many when it comes to health care costs. Steroids are right there at the top of the prescription drug list as Americans rush to alleviate symptoms of inflammation, the result of coming in contact with pollutants and which results in illness of both minor and major proportions. From migraines and asthma to Parkinson’s and cancers, we may as well begin a chain of stores called, “Poisons R-U.S.” to buy our quota of toxic materials directly from the manufacturers!

Our population has no recourse in the matter of how toxic materials proliferate in our day to day environments. Introduced into airtight, energy efficient homes and offices, fumes from toxic materials are the quintessential gift that keeps on giving as they recirculate through ventilation systems and permanently bond to porous materials such as carpets and sheetrock. Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we can’t turn off the accumulation of formaldehyde, pesticides, flame retardants, endocrine disruptors and other substances which simply aren’t compatible with human biochemistry. Instead we are told it is our patriotic duty to take these materials into our homes and bodies. Removing them from our bodies, while storing the rest for ‘safe-keeping’ in our fat cells, takes a lot of time and energy out of our lives. We truly do ‘shop until we drop’ and that is not at all economically sound. Many countries have banned toxic substances like formaldehyde from building materials, and carcinogens from cosmetics, without the collapse of their economies. Ours collapsed without such controls while rates of illness and disability soared.

Submitted to the paper:

Re: “Chutzpah on Steroids”, op-ed column by Bob Herbert (NYT, 7/14/09)

To the Editor,

The past decade saw we, the people, re-defined as consumers under the
leadership of a CEO. Terrorism was met with pleas for all of us to
respond with aggressive consumerism instead of intelligent
citizenship. Respirator masks and chemical detectors, desperately
needed by New Yorkers in the days following 9/11, were a low priority
next to executive pleas for us to shop our way to freedom.


Our officials are sworn to defend the Constitution. The term ‘citizen’
appears repeatedly throughout that document but never the word
‘consumer’. ‘Caveat Emptor’ may apply to consumers, but citizens are
entitled to equal protection under the law for both their persons and
their assets. A ‘government’ should not be synonymous with the role of
‘sponsor’. Let’s restore honesty to capitalism with requirements for
full disclosure in all products, manufactured goods as well as
financial products. Knowledge is power.

Barbara Rubin< Information on steroids: /blockquote>

Categories: Letters, NY Times

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