Is our food safe? What about the drugs we take? The cars we drive and the products we buy? Are the banks, credit card companies and lenders dealing fairly with us? In each case, federal agencies are charged with making sure the answer is “yes.” But examples of unsafe products and unfair practices abound in the marketplace.
For years, General Motors hid from regulators evidence that an ignition switch the company used in its Cobalts, Opels, Pontiacs, and Saturns had such a hair trigger that a light brush by the driver’s hand or knee would shut down the engine, disabling air bags and power steering. The resulting loss of control caused at least 13 fatal accidents. GM's ability to avoid detection for so many years says as much about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's weak enforcement record as anything.
Other examples abound. From tainted peanut butter to toxic drywall, to lead-laden imported toys, such instances of unsafe food, drugs, automobiles and products are all too dangerous evidence of a failed system of regulation and enforcement. Often the failure is the result of neglect – a lack of political will to spend the money required to conduct meaningful research and enforcement. Sometimes the cause is ideological: a conviction that safeguards interfere unduly with industry profits. Either way, the result is that industry is spared the costs of being accountable for unsafe production practices, shifting those costs instead to consumers in the form of injuries, illness and worse.
Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say about it in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.
Americans depend on our civil courts to keep the economy on a fair and firm foundation, but a decades-long campaign to limit access and tamp down awards to injured parties has left courts with diminished power. In an era of rising economic insecurity and inequality that has left many individuals and communities struggling to overcome disadvantages beyond their control, we need legislators and policymakers at all levels of government to take action to promote greater access to justice.
Comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau re its proposal to limit the use of forced arbitration from Martha McCluskey, Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, James Goodwin, and Mollie Rosenzweig, August 22, 2016.