A Catfish Bridge to Nowhere
posted at 1:24 pm on April 22, 2011 by Jazz Shaw
Even in these times of belt-tightening and budget cutting fever, it’s important to remember that there are still some areas where Uncle Sam is going to have to spend money. And among these non-discretionary spending requirements, few are more important than protecting the American people. With that in mind, it’s good to see that our loyal servants in D.C. are ready to protect us from the dangers of… catfish.
There is a battle brewing over catfish. This is not a debate over fried or poached, this is a debate on government regulation of catfish. Even though seafood is inspected by the Food and Drug Administration, there is a move to have foreign catfish put under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) inspection regime. While this may sound benign, it is a move that could drive up prices, add layers of bureaucracy to an industry that doesn’t need it and burden taxpayers with yet another expensive bureaucracy.
After all is said and done, the move will not increase the safety of catfish and the addition of another inspection program would force the hiring of 90 inspectors and eventually spawn a new government inspection bureaucracy that will end up costing hundreds of millions.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has been digging into this proposal since March, calling it, “nothing more than a protectionist tactic funded at taxpayers’ expense.” Speaking as one of the few isolationists in the crowd, I’m all for a good protectionist tactic now and then, but this is a major expenditure of money going to no discernible purpose. Of all the industries in the country that face challenges in the modern era, catfish production doesn’t exactly leap to the top of the list.
As the linked article demonstrates, repeated and extensive testing of catfish, both domestic and imported, have resulted in such low levels of contamination in each that it’s rated as a low-risk food. These new layers of regulation will initially cost 30 million dollars of wasteful spending to taxpayers, adding up to hundreds of millions over the years to follow.
For additional perspective on this prime example of government in action to protect you, as well as more than a little humor, the following video of Senator McCain conducting hearings on the Big Catfish Question is offered.