We hear the term "government" as if they are nameless, faceless entities, bureaucratic robots stamping papers. But when you travel to Washington, DC – the nation's capital, you see that the government – the people who work in these offices regardless of who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – are made up of real people.
You see all these government buildings. You see the people commuting in Metro subway cars. You see them smoking outside their offices, away from the doors.
USDA. HHS. FDA. We do throw these initials around when referring to the efficiency and inefficiency of food-related issues. Why doesn't the FDA do more? Why does the USDA has the conflicting positions of promotion and inspection of our meat supply?
Within the walls of these government buildings, there are people who would love to do more to ensure we have better food safety. Okay, we don't know this for sure since we wouldn't be able to get it and ask. And even if we did get in, they wouldn't go on the record.
But you have to imagine that there are hard-working men and women in those buildings who wish they could do more. They don't like the glacial pace of change, the current malaise that passes for progress in government.
One major political party feels like government shouldn't be involved in these matters, that private companies should police themselves. And when bad things happen, such as a wave of salmonella affecting hundreds of millions of eggs, an apology from the head of the company should be sufficient.
But the irony is that the people who really make the government work – the people in the trenches – would love to have the power to do what they really need to do to help make the American food supply safer. And yet, those that control the purse strings and guide what the agencies can and can't do – they want the status quo where very little is done, from a government standpoint.
So understand that when we attack the government for not doing enough to ensure food safety, we aren't attacking specific people in government buildings on streets named for alphabet letters. We are attacking the true source of power, wanting them to do their job and regulate our food supply to make sure it is as safe as it can be. Right now, "safe" describes the inaction of the government, not the result.