By Mr. Curmudgeon:
“Women and children huddle in niches and corners,” reads the diary entry for April 27, 1944, “They all listen for the sounds of battle . . . Suddenly water starts to pour into the [subway] station. Screams, sobs, curses. People fighting around the ladders that run through the air shafts up to the streets. Masses of gurgling water rush over the stairs. Children and wounded are abandoned and trampled to death …The panic lasts for hours. Many are drowned. Reason: On somebody’s orders, engineers have blasted the locks of the canal between Schoeneburg and Mockern bridges to flood the tunnels against the advancing Russians.”
That “somebody” was a desperate Adolf Hitler. With 2.5 million Soviet troops surrounding the German capital Berlin, Hitler ordered the flooding of the city’s S-Bahn subway to slow the advancing Red Army, killing women, children and his wounded soldiers, who sought shelter from the battle raging in the streets above. The lives of ordinary Germans were of little concern to a ruler bent on saving the authoritarian state. Three days later, Hitler took his own life.
The historical event above came to mind while reading a memo issued by Charles S. Brown, the eastern regional director of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). During a conference call with USDA officials in Washington, Brown asked if he could spread out his department’s sequestration budget cuts in a way that would prevent having to furlough food inspection personnel in his department.
“The response back,” said Brown in a memo to his staff, “was, ‘We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 States in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs. So, it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.’By suggesting to Washington that he could keep a full staff, maintaining the safety of America’s food supply by implementing needed efficiency measures, Brown was dangerously close to “contradicting” plans made by Washington’s permanent federal bureaucracy to hurt Americans to as great an extent as possible. Brown’s mistake, you see, was believing that government serves “We the People,” not the other way around.
A press release issued by House Republican Tim Griffith said, “This email confirms what many Americans have suspected: The Obama Administration is doing everything they can to make sure their worst predictions come true and to maximize the pain of the Sequester cuts for political gain. Instead of cutting waste, the Obama Administration is hurting workers. President Obama should stop protecting wasteful government spending.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Known pathogens cause an estimated 9.4 million food-borne illnesses annually in the United States.” In the period 2009-2010, the CDC reports that food-caused illnesses affected 29,444 Americans, resulting in “1,184 hospitalizations, and 23 deaths.”
Americans should keep these measures in mind as the Obama administration undermines the health of American families in its war to preserve Washington’s unsustainable spending.