5 Safety Laws You Won't Believe Don't Exist
We rely on the government for all the essential things needed to keep a country running: our safety, our infrastructure, our economy, and a fun little cartwheeling sideshow every four years that lets us pretend we're helping. Most people would agree that the government generally works most of the time. Most people, however, aren't aware of instances like these, in which the government failed us so hard that it damn near killed us.
Dangerous Chemicals Are Poorly Stored In Highly Populated Areas
In movies and video games, hazardous explosive materials are everywhere. Prominently-placed red barrels wait for the chance to catch an errant bullet and send some faceless bad guys to Obliteration City. (Fun fact: OC is not technically a city, but rather an incorporated suburb of Dismemberment Town.) It's an absurd action cliche ... which also happens to be entirely accurate. Our cities are stuffed to the gills with random explosives, just waiting for somebody to walk away from them in slow motion.
"DAMN, WE LOOK COOL!"
The EPA, which is in charge of the most dangerous materials in the country, reports that there are 12,000 chemical storage sites that could pose a danger to people living nearby. A 2012 congressional report found that a significant number of these sites are in the middle of populous areas. For nearly 2,500 of these facilities, an incident could endanger 10,000 to one million people. And a Greenpeace study found 89 sites that could pose a risk to even more than that. The point is that every time someone from The Expendables visits a new place, we're playing Russian roulette with our lives. As to where those places are, exactly? (So that we can gently steer Bruce Willis away and point him to the nearest white-guy blues bar instead.) They can't tell us!
Religious Daycares Have Zero Accountability
Generally, you need a license to do anything really cool -- driving a car, performing surgery, grooming a pet, etc. It comes as no surprise, then, that you need a license to run a daycare. After all, our children are nearly as important as our dogs' haircuts. Unless, of course, you run a religious daycare. In that case, the government is apparently counting on your deity to make sure things run smoothly.
Unsurprisingly, that doesn't always work out so well. For example, at the West Bay Christian Center in Alabama, children were locked in closets until they peed themselves, following the classic Christian teaching "Whomever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, shalt pee in the closet forevermore, amen."
"I know you guys can't read, but trust me."
Then there's the Praise Fellowship Assembly of God Church, where religious exemptions allowed them to skirt state staff and training minimums. That led to a staff of five watching 50-60 kids, and therefore not noticing when a toddler fell into the daycare's baptismal pool and drowned. That incident caused them to lose their certification. Not their certification to run a daycare like a puppy mill, of course. Just their certification of eligibility for tax-funded vouchers they used to defray the high cost of not watching your children.
Most all of these horror stories come from states like Florida, Alabama, and Indiana, which, on the basis of separation of church and state, have passed laws exempting religious daycares from government oversight. In the case of Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina, they're even allowed to use corporal punishment. In all, 16 states give a pass on licensing rules to any daycare that proclaims itself a church. Oh, and sorry, but we checked: "The Holy Church Of Fuck You, Gimme Money" was already taken.
Here's their headquarters.
Teacher Screening Systems Are Dangerously Inadequate
If there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's that we need to keep dangerous criminals away from our children. That's why we screen our teachers. No controversy here; there's nobody "against" that particular platform. Well, aside from dangerous criminals who want to be near children. Unfortunately, we guess their voice counts too ...
Take one Brett J. Zagorac, prolific molester of Illinois schoolchildren. If it seems odd to refer to someone as a "prolific child molester," we're sorry for the things you're about to learn. Zagorac was a substitute teacher until he was accused of molesting children in 2002. If the government was actually doing its job, he would have been immediately banned from teaching children and forced to become a clown instead, as is the natural way of things.
Their noses alone scream "Remain 30 feet away from a school."
Instead, he has continued educating our youth. Specifically, he's educating them about inappropriate touching, with further incidents in 2003, 2005, 2010, and 2014. He was able to get close to these kids over and over again because state records of teacher dismissals have more inconsistencies than Timerider: The Adventure Of Lyle Swann.
The federal government's attitude toward making sure our kids aren't being taught by Buffalo Bill is essentially "Eh, someone else will take care of this." And they're right, to some degree. The slack has been picked up by a nonprofit that created the Multistate Educator Lookup System, or MELS. Unfortunately, they're about as good at keeping predators out of schools as they are at thinking up catchy acronyms.
"I was tired and a Lethal Weapon marathon was on. Make it work."
MELS's major problem is that it can't force school administrators to register disciplined teachers. This means that their database of Mr. Badtouches relies on government administrators going above and beyond the call of duty.
Have you met government administrators?
"I'll get to it after we finish the thing about the length of prom dresses."
A USA Today investigation found that there are at least 9,000 teachers missing from MELS, which includes at least 200 whose licenses were revoked for physical or sexual abuse of their students. But surely, they can't all be unstoppable molestation Terminators like Zagorac. R-right? Well, one (comically small) study has been done on this, carried out by the Government Accountability Office back in 2010. They looked into 15 cases in which a school hired a teacher with a history of molesting their students, and in six of those cases, the teacher did it again. For those of you who learned math from an ex-con who should have been barred from teaching: That's nearly goddamn half of them.
Lead Is Everywhere; You Just Don't Hear About It
If you can remember all the way back to last year -- which, if you've been drinking out of the tap, might be a challenge -- you'll recall that the water of Flint, Michigan had been contaminated with lead. The effect lead has on children is especially nasty, ranging from hearing loss and poor memory to lowered intelligence and violent tendencies. That's right, It somehow makes children even worse than they naturally are.
Safe drinking water is one of the very few things that we as a civilization have figured out, and yet here we are -- modern day, Western world -- still struggling with it. It's not limited to Flint, either. One investigation found that at least 2,000 water systems across the U.S. have elevated levels of lead in their tap water samples, which is terrifying -- but also may help explain the success of the Fast & Furious franchise.
Luckily, our city and state governments are on the job. Unluckily, their job is doing everything in their power to cover up the problem. Yes, with a little luck and a lot of bureaucratic elbow grease, you won't be hearing about this in the future.
A Legislative Loophole Makes Native American Women Rape Targets
In Fort Bertold, one of the largest Native American reservations in the US, tribal law enforcement is not allowed to prosecute non-native crimes on their territory, which leads to drunken oil workers thumbing their nose at the law with impunity. In a case of bureaucracy so nightmarish it would curl Franz Kafka's toes, this immunity also extends to sexual assault and rape.
This is all because of the 1978 Supreme Court case Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, which decided that Native American tribal courts do not have jurisdiction over non-natives without specific authorization by Congress. That means that if a non-native commits a crime against a Native American on tribal land, the crime falls under federal jurisdiction, so all arrests in the case can only be made by the FBI. However, the task force devoted to this work appears to be one agent armed with a Pogo stick and a flashlight.
"It's just a regular stick now. Budget cuts."
Arrests, when they happen at all, take a very long time. In the meantime, local police can't do much of anything, even if they catch the perp red-handed. And when the offender is caught, things don't get a whole lot better. Calls are often not responded to promptly, because it takes time to determine jurisdiction for the case, and non-rez police are farther away. So by the time they finally hear about the crime, get assigned to it, and reach the victim, her rapist is often long gone, and so is any physical evidence like DNA.
That doesn't seem to matter much, though, since (evidence or not) 67 percent of cases are never prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys anyway. All this has turned areas like Fort Bertold into a perpetual Wild West reenactment, but only of the part where the natives get screwed and have no legal recourse.
For more astonishingly baffling moves by governments, check out 5 Government Programs That Backfired Horrifically and 5 Hilariously Illegal Ways Governments Solved Huge Problems.
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