Once again, I have a cold. I took NyQuil a few nights ago to quell the symptoms so I could get some sleep, crucial to a speedy recovery. I noticed that the bottle indicated that it expired in April 2005. I threw out another (unopened) bottle I found in a storage container that expired in 2001. Ditto a box of Immodium AD that saw its useful life end in February 2008. No matter how hard I try to keep up with the present, it seems that the past exerts itself. In addition to our various old medications, I am surrounded by outdated ideas. Husband and I went to a cheese tasting and class last week. One of our classmates asked the instructor what the difference between pasteurized and raw milk was. I braced myself while she explained that the government liked to make decisions for people that really overreached to promote "safety."

"See, when you get your dairy from small family farms that you know well, it should be up to you whether to take the risks or not," she said.

Of course, the vast majority of people in this country are not intimately familiar with farms for a variety of reasons. Further, pasteurization laws were created exactly when most farms were small and family-run. This was no assurance that the food that people received was safe, or even food at all. Even the best intentioned farmers may not have had the knowledge or capacity to ensure that bacteria and other harmful agents did not infect their products. People got sick and died. That doesn't factor in the farmers who just wanted to make a quick buck. A series of scandals involving milk thickened with other agents that killed people occurred. Food safety laws came into being for a reason. It's not just the evils of corporate farming that they protect us from. History, conveniently forgotten like my bottles of NyQuil, show us that these laws saved people, particularly children.

Another good lesson that is rotting away is that of unions. It is true that many unions have gotten as powerful and lazy as the industries they counterbalance. However, unions rose out of the same corporate powered atmosphere that we live in today. They gave workers a voice and ensured that people could work in safe conditions and make decent livings. As unions have, overall, lost power in the past two decades, many of those protections have eroded. Now we again have corporations making huge profits while laying people off, claiming that they are good for everyone. We have politicians trying to use armed force to make union members regret standing up for themselves. While we blame government unions for every problem under the sun, the private sector laughs its way to the bank. They can buy all the fresh NyQuil they want.

The rest of us, forgetting our lessons and supporting this race to the bottom, will have to make do with the expired and potentially tainted products that are left over. We need to throw out the bad medicine. It won't cure our ills.

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