Steve Chapman

There have been a lot of unsurprising news stories lately. Rod
Blagojevich going on TV. Tiger Woods and his wife divorcing. The economy
racing along like an elderly tortoise. And the Food and Drug
Administration saying the salmonella outbreak proves the agency needs
more power.

We should have seen that coming. In the private sector, entities that
fall short of doing their jobs find themselves forced to shrink. In the
public sector, the opposite is typically true. Failure is an option, and
often a beneficial one.

The Federal Reserve Board and Treasury facilitated the 2008 financial
crisis? Then obviously we have no choice but to give them even more
responsibility. The Securities and Exchange Commission let Bernie Madoff
rob investors? A bigger SEC will be a smarter SEC.

Just once, I'd like to see a government official say, "We blew it, and
you know what? If you give us another chance, we'll probably blow it
again." But so far, my hope has not availed.

It's true that the FDA is charged with assuring food safety. But really,
the government can't do that. The task is too big and too complex.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to do it, because the pressures of
competition force producers to make sure their goods are clean and

What goes curiously unnoticed is that egg suppliers and grocery stores
have nothing to gain from sickening their customers -- and a lot to
lose. It doesn't take many obvious hygiene lapses for a company to get a
bad reputation, and a bad reputation can be catastrophic..........