By Alan Caruba
In mid-April I wrote about the Environmental Protection Agency’s two-day “Bed Bug Summit”, noting that part of the problem for the resurgence of the pest was the fact the EPA had banned some of the pesticides that had been used kill them in the past.
They are a dreadful little critter because they can live a very long time between blood meals, breed extensively like most insect pests, and are so small it is difficult to spot them.
A friend of mine, Rich Kozlovich, prominent in the pest control profession, laid out his thoughts about the Summit calling it “A substitute for accomplishment” and noting that a bill before Congress will allocate $50 million to the problem, but worse, a host of regulations will emerge from the Summit that will do little or nothing to actually address what can and should be done.
Let’s understand that bed bugs, at least at this point, are not known to transmit disease. They bite, it causes a lot of itching, but it’s not like the Mexican flu making its way around the globe and even killing the occasional victim. Despite being declared an epidemic or pandemic, this new strain of flu is not that lethal. People get sick and then they recover.
Bed bugs are a “lifestyle” pest. People associate them with flop houses and bad housing or sanitation. The fact is that bed bugs can live anywhere and are being found in resorts, hotels, dormitories, and people’s homes. They have, as often as not, been imported to these places as the result of foreign travel where they have gotten onto the clothes people packed in their luggage before returning home. Or they come from the many foreign visitors, tourists, who introduce them. Once here, they breed and spread. With the advent of DDT, they had been virtually eliminated as a pest problem in the U.S.
The EPA’s agenda has been to extend its control over pest control and you better believe that this is one profession that is heavily regulated, from the pesticides they are permitted to use to the licensing and annual certifications required to stay in business. Each State has its own environmental protection agency and the nationwide bureaucracy involved employs thousands of people.
The technicians who do the actual work are initially trained and tested to ensure they have learned the basics about the proper use of pesticides and the ability to identify the many species of pests with which they have to contend. They get an education that never ends.
As my friend pointed out about the Summit, “There were 34 suggestions that would expand the bureaucracy at every level, expand training and licensure requirements and potentially mandate IPM (Integrated Pest Management which puts the use of pesticides way down on the list of remedial actions to take.)
Other Summit suggestions included money for public education, ten advocating grant money, “and nine that had some worth. However, no one blamed the EPA.” No one mentioned the fact that the EPA has been systematically banning pesticides since its inception in 1972.
In these times the government is growing into a full-blown monster, spending and wasting money at a billion dollars a day while running up huge deficits. It is getting ready to add 20,000 new jobs at the Pentagon, expanding the enforcement personnel at the Internal Revenue Service, and finding new reasons to hire more people to do things that will just slow down progress and sensible solutions to everything.
As Rich Kozlovich points out, the likelihood of that $50 million being used to fund actual bed bug remediation is small. Instead, a force of “inspectors” will be created for no good reason because that’s what pest control professionals already do! “Taxpayer money will be used for transportation, lodging and meals, training inspectors, and if they choose, they can contract pest controllers for purposes that aren’t really specified.”
You can bet that federal and state health agencies will get in on the act in order to get a piece of that $50 million “which will make them secondary de facto regulators of the pest control industry in their states.” They are already heavily regulated by State environmental protection agencies.
The bottom line is that “inspections will not eliminate bed bugs.” All it does is create more government employees for an ordinary part of the process that can and should be tended to by pest control professionals.
If all this oversight and supervision drives up the liabilities for treatment, you will watch pest control companies begin to refuse to do bed bug extermination. They already pay out lots of money for insurance and legal services to protect them against people eager to sue for any reason.
So you can add bed bugs to the long list of hoaxes that government uses to expand its control over people’s lives and you can be pretty sure, where there’s money to be had, that will not be long in coming.
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