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The following is the full text of a letter to the editor, which was published in the April 20, 2012 edition of the Pacific Business News.

The key question not answered in the article (4/6/12 Pacific Business News “Food businesses face fee hikes”) is why hike fees or hire more inspectors? What is the problem that needs to be solved? Or is this being considered to keep up with the state of California? What a perversion that would be.

There have been no major incidents in the last 30 years that have been connected to lack of inspections. Accordingly, one must assume that the real motivation behind this is to grow government size and power and add more employees.

If this fee increase is to be done, then surely, at the same time, The Department of Health as well as its chief and each inspector should, by force of law, be held at least partially responsible for any community health endangering incidents. That is to say, if the places of business are being inspected to “assure safety and well being of the community” then any failure to accomplish that should fall on the agency and its inspectors as well as the offending business as fines, penalties and/or jail. And, it seems reasonable that, since these inspections are so important to the state, that any failure by the Department to keep to the schedule would incur a substantial fine on the Department head. And a failure of an inspector to do his work and stay on schedule would entail a fine or jail.

On the other hand, if things are left as they are now and current inspectors were converted into helpful, positive teachers of best practices, the businesses would retain full responsibility for safety, malfeasance and such. Then state liability expense would be almost nothing and there would be no more inspectors needed. Then increased fees on businesses would be unnecessary. As a matter of fact, they should go down. Further, look how simple things have become. In addition, the state is helping its constituents instead of “inspecting” them. Gosh, what a concept: WIN-WIN-WIN. Not a loser to be found!

Summary: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!  And, by the way, where are the congratulations to those thousands of food preparers in all those businesses that have accumulated such a fine record of clean wholesome work product over all these years?

Richard O. Rowland is the founder and president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.