President Trump recently announced that he’d like to “scale back the scope of federal regulations to the level it stood in 1960.” By that he doesn’t mean easing-up red tape for small business loans. He means stripping Americans of public protections that have preserved our health, safety, environment, and financial security for decades.
Trump may have an extreme goal but to be honest, the overall problem is nothing too new. Since the 1980s, strong oversight of dangerous corporate practices has been slowing down in America. What we found back then was fascinating: corporations engaged in illegal behavior that were able to block government oversight sometimes changed because of lawsuits brought by everyday Americans. As a result of lawsuits then and now, auto manufacturers have been forced to make safer or remove from the market untold numbers of dangerous vehicles saving millions of lives. Many machines have been equipped with safety guards. Toxic household chemicals got warning labels. Fabrics used in children’s sleepwear became flame-retardant. Dangerous and sometimes lethal birth control devices were taken off the market. On and on. Civil lawsuits have also forced disclosure of extremely important internal information about dangerous products, unsafe health care, sexual harassment and all forms of discrimination, and financial abuses. You can find explanations of many cases right here.