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Class War For Idiots / June 22, 2011

The other day I came across a post-WWII government propaganda film called “Meats With Approval” that serves as a great indicator of just how much America’s regressed politically in the past 50 years. This film should be required viewing for all the brainwashed suckers who still believe the rightwing lie that America has always been just as corrupt and hostile to the basic needs and interests of its citizens as it is today. That’s the sort of bullshit only the history-deprived could believe.

Released in 1946 by the Office of Information, “Meats With Approval” educates the average American about the history and workings of the USDA. It tells the story of how the government had to force the companies to adhere to basic food safety guidelines because they wouldn’t regulate themselves, explaining that USDA food safety laws were in part a result of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a famous muckraking book that rocked America in 1906 by exposing the filthy and exploitative practices of the meatpacking industry. The book caused President Teddy Roosevelt to convene an investigation into the meatpacking industry that later led to the establishment of some of the first basic federal food safety laws.

You’d think that food safety regulations, feeble as they were, would be the one thing that even the most cynical right-wingers wouldn’t risk ruining. After all, even agribusiness executives and lobbyists haver to eat—and who wants to munch of hamburgers filled with cow shit or worry that you’ll be eaten alive by flesh-eating bacteria that can be picked up just by handling infected chicken?

Well, clearly they don’t give a shit. Powerful agribusiness interests bided their time through 80 years of regulation, waiting until the public no longer had a memory of what it was like to live in a world of freemarket food production.

Ronald Reagan enjoys a Jumbo Shitburger Supreme with Cheese. Mmmmmm…

Fast-forward to 1986: Exactly forty years after the release of “Meats with Approval”, under the Gipper’s watchful eye, Congress took a bold step toward curbing the tyranny of USDA regulators, courageously creating a “streamlined meat inspection process” that pulled federal inspectors out of slaughterhouses, and substituted in their place “regulators” hired by the meat industry, on the theory that the meat industry could more efficiently regulate itself than statist government bureaucrats.

“Department standards would not be bound to the traditional requirement calling for continuous inspection of every animal carcass or bird that moves along the processing line,” reported Star-News. Notice how the article mentions that not a single consumer advocate group opposed the bill passage.

 

Americans went along with it, and got played like a bunch of gullible fools, suicidally gullible. Once the deregulation began, the number of food-borne diseases skyrocketed, multiplying by a factor of ten by the time Y2K rolled around. E. coli outbreaks were practically unheard of before the 1980s; these days they are so common we’re no longer surprised. And we’re powerless to stop more outbreaks. Not only were there were twice as many USDA meat inspectors in 1978 (before the first outbreak of E. coli) than there are today, but the government has no legal authority to force meat recalls–only the meat industry can impose its own recall–that is, they have to be done on a voluntary basis.

Now cut to 2008: Twenty years after Reagan, the USDA is now an active force for evil. It’s one thing that the USDA got out of the business of regulating the meat industry; now, it uses taxpayer dollars to subsidize agribusinesses that sell tainted meat.

Case-in-point: In December 2008, the USDA announced that it was buying over $20 million dollars worth of chicken from notoriously corrupt chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride for use in school lunch programs all across the country, forgetting to mention that there was an uninvestigated outbreak of a deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA (it’s also frequently called “superbug” or “flesh-eating bacteria”) at one or more facilities owned by Pilgrim’s Pride.

“MRSA Cases At Batesville Hatchery,” published September 2008:

There are [sic] serveral cases of the infection MRSA reported at a Pilgrim’s Pride hatchery in Batesville.

At least 8 employees from the Pilgrim’s Pride Hatchery are on a leave of absence right now.

Several of them confirmed to Today’s THV they have a form of community acquired or CA-MRSA. It’s an infection spread by sharing clothing, equipment, and touching.

The hatchery is separate from the poultry plant and the food is not at risk, but employee have been sick on and off for about a year. They tell us the company is not doing enough to stop the infection.

“Everyone in the hatchery has had it, but none of their family members has had this and that tells you right there it’s at the hatchery and they need to do a thorough cleaning,” Vickie Smith says.

Smith is speaking on behalf of friends who are currently employed at the Batesville Pilgrim’s Pride hatchery. Together she says all three of them have had CA-MRSA 23-times.

Ah, the USDA! How far you’ve come since “Meats with Approval.” Instead of shutting down Pilgrim’s Pride, you now help the evil company move its product, using taxpayer money to dump potentially deadly chicken meat on unsuspecting school kids all across the country. You make Koch-funded libertards proud!

And in case you don’t know, antibiotic resistant bacteria ain’t nothing to fuck with. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that overall they kill somewhere around 70,000 people every year, with just a few of the most virulent types of MRSA infections killing 18,000 alone—that’s more than the number of people who die from AIDS.

The recent spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is commonly blamed on the hospital environment and people’s improper use of antibiotics, but  that’s just propaganda meant to distract us peasants from the real culprit: 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the US are not used by sick patients, but by agribusinesses, which feed, dump and inject antibiotics into just about everything that’s at risk of being infected with bacteria. Not only are antibiotics feds to healthy chickens, hogs, and cows, but they are also sprayed on key crops, like pears and apples.

Despite all that unnecessary sickness and death, it’s true: deregulation has led to greater prosperity for American businesses.  For example: Cargill—the largest private company in the US, bigger than even Koch Industries—was able to cut costs (and boost profitability) by a tasty 25% thanks to rules allowing Cargill to legally mix in pieces of shit-soaked intestines into its ground hamburger patties.

 

Here’s a bit from a 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article by journalist Michael Moss about Cargill’s E. coli shitburger meat:

On Aug. 16, 2007, the day Ms. Smith’s hamburger was made, the No.3 grinder at the Cargill plant in Butler, Wis., started up at 6:50 a.m. The largest ingredient was beef trimmings known as “50/50” — half fat, half meat — that cost about 60 cents a pound, making them the cheapest component.

Cargill bought these trimmings — fatty edges sliced from better cuts of meat — from Greater Omaha Packing, where some 2,600 cattle are slaughtered daily and processed in a plant the size of four football fields.

As with other slaughterhouses, the potential for contamination is present every step of the way, according to workers and federal inspectors. The cattle often arrive with smears of feedlot feces that harbor the E. coli pathogen, and the hide must be removed carefully to keep it off the meat. This is especially critical for trimmings sliced from the outer surface of the carcass.

Federal inspectors based at the plant are supposed to monitor the hide removal, but much can go wrong. Workers slicing away the hide can inadvertently spread feces to the meat, and large clamps that hold the hide during processing sometimes slip and smear the meat with feces, the workers and inspectors say.

Greater Omaha vacuums and washes carcasses with hot water and lactic acid before sending them to the cutting floor. But these safeguards are not foolproof.

“As the trimmings are going down the processing line into combos or boxes, no one is inspecting every single piece,” said one federal inspector who monitored Greater Omaha and requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The E. coli risk is also present at the gutting station, where intestines are removed, the inspector said.

Every five seconds or so, half of a carcass moves into the meat-cutting side of the slaughterhouse, where trimmers said they could keep up with the flow unless they spot any remaining feces.

“We would step in and stop the line, and do whatever you do to take it off,” said Esley Adams, a former supervisor who said he was fired this summer after 16 years following a dispute over sick leave. “But that doesn’t mean everything was caught.”

Two current employees said the flow of carcasses keeps up its torrid pace even when trimmers get reassigned, which increases pressure on workers. To protest one such episode, the employees said, dozens of workers walked off the job for a few hours earlier this year. Last year, workers sued Greater Omaha, alleging that they were not paid for the time they need to clean contaminants off their knives and other gear before and after their shifts. The company is contesting the lawsuit.

Remember, this is what market efficiency tastes like the next time you order your Cargill-manufactured Jack in the Box shitburger.

Yasha Levine is an editor of The eXiled. You can reach him at levine [at] exiledonline.com. 

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22 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. motorfirebox  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Somehow this is the fault of an illegal immigrant.

  • 2. rdc75  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 3:31 am

    “This film should be required viewing for all the brainwashed suckers who still believe the rightwing lie that America has always been just as corrupt and hostile to the basic needs and interests of its citizens as it is today.”

    Huh, I’m confused. I was always told the rightwing “lie” was that America was better before integration and 3rd-world immigration.

    After all the right wing said that mixing with 3rd-worlders would lead to a 3rd-world nation, i.e. “a corrupt and hostile government” – it was the left that said that even suspecting that 3rd-worlders would bring the 3rd world with them is racist.

    All predictions of the “rightwing” are now reality. We see much higher criminality, higher corruption, declining standards and of course much more poverty than before 3rd-world swamping.

    To say that the rightwing says that it was always that way is just not true.

  • 3. ballsy  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 7:01 am

    How come none of those responsible for outbreaks are getting sued? All I hear about is a farm or other getting shut down or being forced to stop producing. I mean I know the American judicial system is atrocious because of all the layers of bureaucracy and corruption but potential outbreaks seem more important to me than idiots spilling coffee on themselves or sexual deviants being allowed to inherit titles or libel laws or intellectual property disputes. I don’t know. I’m not American so I don’t know how you guys think.

  • 4. FarEastern  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 8:58 am

    @2. rdc75

    The “Right wing” or whatever you want to call it, wasn’t always a hang out for Neo-liberals. Servile lovers of capital for sure, but not necessary lovers of FOREIGN capital.

    Back in the old days before America got to be the global spanning Ottoman Empire that it is today, the American elites were (legitimately) afraid of foreign business elites (The British) from stepping in and taking over their sweet-ass game. Once America had surpassed all perceived rivals at the end of the old War, it could get busy with it’s wonderful Washington Consensus without fear of any organized threat to their economic scam.

    Oh, but how things change. Hillary and her girlfriend (The Weiner Wife) were just in Africa letting all the African leaders know that making economic development deals with China is “Neo-colonialism” and that it is better to stick with USA and the OBAMARAMA express train to libertopia.

  • 5. Zirb  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Would rather have slightly risky food than no food at alll

  • 6. Ganryu  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I’m sure Upton Sinclair would be sent off to Gitmo or the loony bin for trying to interfere with the free markets…
    I’m sure there are lots of folks who’d be horrified at seeing even the footage inside the processing plants (“You mean my steak had a head attached to it at one point?”). Further, I can see the irony of neo-fascists wanting “the masses” to cut healthcare costs, but not even wanting to spring for the far cheaper, less hassle method of not getting lots and lots of people sick from food-borne illness. And let’s not even get started on the whole horror of GMO crops being allowed into the food supply.
    I wasn’t even nostalgic for the 50’s, but it looks a lot better than now.

  • 7. max  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Up here in socialist utopia Canuckistan, we somehow manage to survive K-12 public education without “school lunch programs”. Lunches involved sandwiches, fruit, cookies, paper bags and plenty of bartering – a truly subversive capitalist incubator. Glad to see you’ve managed to nip it in the bud down there.

  • 8. spark  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Hi, I’m trying out this new Sockpuppet 3.0 program, and for some reason, to activate it you have to stick your tongue into a gooey brown hole that’s called “Mr. Koch’s Ass” and lick it until it boots up. So I did what I was told, Sockpuppet 3.0 booted up, and guess what it told me to write? It said that I should write a comment saying–are your ready?—“Roosevelt thought the muckrakers were saps. The real reason behind the regulation of food purity was the need for American packers to be able to ship to Europe.”

    See, the point is that Roosevelt was just as cynical and greedy as anyone else. I believe it–I mean seriously, why else would I lick billionaire sphincter? M’m’m that’s tasty!

    Read “Triumph of Conservatism”, you’ll like it if you’re a spineless suckup born to serve others like me.

  • 9. Strelnikov  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    @7 We have a school lunch program because many of the ghetto kids don’t get a lunch from their parents….you have a real welfare state, so children don’t wake up hungry and go to school for food. We just play at it, so harrible things like this USDA scam can happen.

    “US capitalism: Incomptetent on top of being cheap, cruel, and occasionally muderious.”

  • 10. Brad  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Ha! Meat eaters…

    Plus, business must be regulated, cos… surprise surprise… they cut corners to make an extra buck. According to staff the Chinese restaurant near me reuses their food. What you don’t eat arrives on someone else’s plate. And vice versa. Other restaurants (in Australian) who comply with sanitation laws… well, you probably have a healthier meal.

    BIG GOVERNMENT IS GREAT! FUCK THE LOBBYISTS AND STOOGES OF MULTI-MILLIONAIRE CEOs!

  • 11. my talkative ringpiece  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    #10 well that explains some of the stuff from Chinese places that tastes like roadkill. Eww.

    School lunches used to be pretty grim, meatloaf, corn’ish bread, jello with cottage cheese put in it for extra cloudiness, a bit of salad and a stewed prune. But they used to be prepared based on nutritional guidelines, you got some meat, some veggies, some carbs, and a bit of a treat. And some milk. Beat the holy motherfucking hell out of what we had at home to bring in, which was nothing.

  • 12. matt  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    jamie kilstein should find this interesting.

  • 13. Plamen  |  June 24th, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Am I a Koch scrotum-shiner?
    check
    do I look for mention of “liberals”?
    check
    Do I try make ridiculous claims?
    check

    Yet another eXiled commenter? check!

  • 14. super390  |  June 25th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    #2:

    The Right-wing rejects the FDR era as Communist tyranny. Haven’t you heard that’s now the required line for anyone who wants the Presidential nomination? Glenn Beck denounced the other Roosevelt, the Republican one, for justifying progressive taxation. So now even 1905 is not far enough back.

    Oh, and Ron Paul called Lincoln a tyrant. So I guess now we have to go all the way back before 1860. Which fits your excuses for white supremacy nicely.

    But wait! There’s more! A GOP Congressman has already denounced the right of citizens to vote directly for senators, which was a key reform of the era of Jacksonian Democracy in the 1820s. That era also secured the rights of poor whites to vote, so I guess you know what’s coming next.

    Also, too! For the hard-core Christian Right, even 1776 was too liberal, since Palin’s buddies in the New Apostolic Reformation want to bring back witchhunting and exorcisms, while others revere R. J. Rushdoony, who wanted to stone sinners to death. So we’re back to what, 2000 BC? And all of it is being mainstreamed as normal, moral American thinking.

    Where, sir, does it end?

  • 15. terje  |  June 26th, 2011 at 4:15 am

    ” Once the deregulation began, the number of food-borne diseases skyrocketed, multiplying by a factor of ten by the time Y2K rolled around.”*

    *Citation needed

  • 16. Strelnikov  |  June 26th, 2011 at 5:58 am

    “Where, sir, does it end?”

    Either in Civil War or concentration camps….

  • 17. super390  |  June 26th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Of course with or without deregulation the germs have been doing their damnedest to evolve immunity to the antibiotics…

    Wait! Evolution is a liberal scam! Germs don’t evolve! EColi is as God first formed it His Own Self!

    Therefore, no need to worry. Our entrepreneur-excreted foods will never poison us, unless it’s God punishing us for not dragging all the queers into the street and setting fire to them.

    And that’s how the bad guys will get away with it.

  • 18. John Figler  |  June 27th, 2011 at 1:18 am

    16: “Either in Civil War or concentration camps…”

    I’ve been lately surprising myself contemplating ever more often the first possibility as the more and more likely course for upcoming events in the US…

    I used to fantasize about an inland bound obscurantist vs seaboard/XXI century rationalists as the main divide line… Then I remember that this time there is no “other side”, no elite worth of the name ready to battle for the good side (Hollywood liberals are the ones going to raise the volunteer Zouave regiments this time, New England reddish aristocracy rallying to the colors?), even if it is to further their own agendas but leaving a marginal improvement of life quality for the rest as an accidental byproduct of their action… so, it would be the second one, and it would be on a global scale.

  • 19. circus29  |  June 27th, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Shitburgers are the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.

  • 20. BTH  |  July 13th, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Bill Clinton helped to lower meat regulation due to his close ties to Tyson, the maker of truly rancid chicken products. Where’s your picture of Clinton eating a nice shitburger sandwich? Democrats and Republicans are both bags of excrement that sell out to big business, get a clue.

  • 21. Aaron  |  August 8th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Of course, BTH, but the Democrats do it slightly less often, which is why I’d whine and whinge something bitter and faggy like “they’re worthy of our unstinting, unquestioning support” except that that would imply I haven’t read eXiled online because anyone who has read it knows its writers trash the Dems all the fucking time–but then again, I’m a teatard who can’t even fucking read let alone comment, so I’m just going to stick my head down the toilet and flush it a few times

  • 22. circus29  |  September 9th, 2011 at 6:12 am

    You can have a Kobe beef burger at BLT Burgers inside the Mirage in Vegas for $35.


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