AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Spartanburg, SC
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All the little "fiefdoms" of which some of you are speaking, such as the FCC, FDA, FAA, etc., are technically all departments of one branch -- the Executive, though authorized by laws and bills passed by the Legislative branch, which usually required a signature by the head of the Executive (the President).
Frankly, a government as big as our federal government couldn't operate any other way, and all these big federal departments are necessary. The problem is that some of them have been given too much authority, and/or spread far too thin, and/or allowed to go far afield of their original mandates and begin serving the very interests they're supposed to be regulating, controlling or policing -- sometimes due to Congress changing laws due to the influence of industry lobbyists -- sometimes due to a simple lack of oversight...
At any rate, it's pretty easy to see this sort of thing at play in at least the FCC, FAA and FDA during the past 20 years, or so. The FAA has even admitted, in the past, of doing cost-benefit analyses (or recognizing the justification of various airlines doing them) to determine whether it was worth doing various safety upgrades or increasing the frequency of various maintenance routines, or of topping off fuel tanks, rather than flying with "just enough" fuel to get to a destination (since more fuel costs more to carry -- a few planes have crashed when bad weather or navigation -- or a faulty fuel sensor -- caused the plane to run out of fuel before it could land). Airlines have even assessed a "value per human life," as to how much they expected to have to pay out in insurance claims, which came out when the oxygen tanks being carried in the flight that went down in the Florida everglades a number of years back caught fire and caused the plane to crash (I think the figure at that time was $900,000 per life).
For the most part, none of these things usually gets addressed until after the fact, when there's major public outrage. I think the NAB jumping on this plan to sell off most of the UHF broadcasting spectrum before it could be done is one of the few exceptions... BUT I think that's still looming over everyone's head from here on out, and the chances are unless someone gets Congress to pass a strong law against it, it will come to pass, eventually.
Life is the only constant...