On July 14, The New York Times reported that scientists at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had mishandled dangerous strains of anthrax and bird flu, failed to follow correct safety procedures after employees were exposed, and neglected to notify the appropriate supervisors for about one month. This is not the first time we've heard about lax oversight and dangerous disregard at the CDC. In 2006, for instance, the agency "accidentally sent live anthrax to two other labs, and also shipped out live botulism bacteria."
Inadvertent biological warfare sounds bad enough, but the CDC's errors are really just an amuse-bouche in the banquet of government failures. In the past year alone, observes Veronique de Rugy, we've seen the amazingly botched rollout of Obamacare's website exchange, the Department of Veterans Affairs' inept handling of health care for former members of the armed forces, and the Internal Revenue Service politicizing right-wing groups' applications for nonprofit status. All of which took place against the background hum of death and disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the nation's attention tends to be narrowly focused on the day-to-day problems related to each of these disasters, they comprise only the most recent and visible signs of the fundamental flaws that plague government intervention.