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Original message: The 11/30 show on how meat inspectors put a sausage maker out of business struck home with me. Growing up my family had a hog farm, and we had often but unannounced visits by inspectors from the federal, state, and county levels. While the inspections were generally a good idea, we were completely at the mercy of the inspectors and how they felt about you. Most of the time we got along with them and they usually weren't unreasonable, but at times there was friction. For one thing, inspectors would almost always write you up for minor violations just because they had to prove to their bosses that they were doing their jobs (there was always something, because there were hundreds of pages of regulations covering hog production). Or one inspector would move on and you would get a new one who had to prove something or just wanted to "earn" a promotion (fortunately, since they considered the job a stepping stone they didn't hang around long). And you often got the feeling that they had been told from on high to start picking on one issue or another without any sense of logic at all (as the sausage maker said on the program, you were doing absolutely nothing different, but one day they came down on you like a ton of bricks). A few times we felt at the mercy of a faceless bureaucrat somewhere above the level of the inspectors who just wanted to assert his authority. They can't bring down a big meat packer without major repercussions, but nobody cares about small family businesses. The sausage maker depicted on the show could have been the victim of a bureaucrat somewhere who just didn't think prepared meats were healthy. But he'll never know, and he realistically has no course of appeal.
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