In this paper, Joe Nocera details Republicans’ move to cut the Food and Drug Administration’s budget despite the latter’s broad new authority of ensuring food safety, a move that will have several consequences on the FDA’s activities by crippling its activities. In writing the paper, Nocera has a clear thesis and this is first seen in the early sections of the paper when he writes, “in a nutshell, that is the sad story of the food safety law”, referring to the Republicans’ move (Nocera, 2011). He then goes on to give the finer details of how he Republicans have continued with their “unyielding, antitax, antispend” line of thinking to obstruct common sense and the wellbeing of Americans (Nocera, 2011).
Having made a bold statement regarding the Republicans’ line of thinking, Nocera goes on to provide a number of examples to support his claim. He begins by outlining the importance of modernizing the nation’s food safety inspection system, such as handling an outbreak of E. coli and undertaking global food inspections. All of these processes would require additional funding, yet the Republicans had voted to reduce the FDA’s spending. The author then proceeds to give numerical facts of the budget cut. First, the Republicans removed the fee that was to be levied on food facilities, a move that would have raised a substantial amount of money to help the FDA in its activities. In addition, the Republicans cut the FDA’s budget by more than $200 million, a move that would further curtail the food agency’s activities pertaining to food inspection. Nocera also mentions that the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture does not recognize the importance of food safety to the nation. In supporting his thesis, Nocera uses a myriad of credible sources, such as his citation of figures from the 2012 budget, the previous year’s budget, and the Senate’s vote to increase the FDA’s budget by $40 million. These sources are credible as they arise from national budget figures. The figures and other information that the author uses to defend his thesis are easily available for verification from a number of sources, besides, they are prepared from a professional point of view, that is, by persons well-versed in the field of economic planning, and are unbiased. Apart from budgetary figures and congressional proceedings, Nocera also cites The Washington Post regarding the position of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture on food safety, and The Times, regarding the signing of the new food safety law by the President. Both of these news items are credible as they are valid, provide unbiased and up-to-date information, and are generally authoritative. There is no evidence that the author uses any form of fallacy in his argument.
In writing the article, Nocera anticipates possible opposing arguments, especially after he makes the bold statement regarding the Republicans’ “unyielding, antitax, antispend” ideology (Nocera, 2011). This statement is definitely bound to draw a heated debate regarding its truthfulness. Consequently, he provides proof from a number of sources to justify the assertion. The author expects counter-arguments regarding his statement regarding the ideology of the Republicans and immediately admits that the Democrats have also made errors in running the country, for instance, by hurting job creation. By alluding that the Democrats have weaknesses too, the author averts arguments that could arise from the Republican camp regarding his failure to mention the numerous faults attributed to Democrats since they took power. Nocera’s use of credible information from the national budget, The Washington Post, The Times, and congressional proceedings will no doubt lessen counter arguments arising from readers.
Although Nocera attempts to provide proof of the Republicans’ move to cut the FDA’S budgetary allocation, and the effects of their decision, in some instance, he fails to provide evidence and makes some generalizations. For example, he states, “The next time there is an E. coli outbreak, we’ll know who to blame” (Nocera, 2011). While Republicans had reduced the amount of funds available to the FDA, other methods could be used to account for this deficit, including a reduction of spending on non-critical areas, rather than blaming the Republicans. Besides, an E. coli outbreak could still occur even with adequate funding. Therefore, the statement is a generalization. However, the author could have used this last line to give a light conclusion to the otherwise serious topic under discussion.
Nocera uses very little humor in this article, an observation that could partly be due to the seriousness of the matter under discussion. The only time he uses humor is at the end of the paper when he writes, “There is certainty about one thing… The next time there is an E. coli outbreak, we’ll know who to blame” (Nocera, 2011). As noted earlier, Nocera may have used this sentence to give his paper a touch of humor, thereby relieve the audience of the seriousness of the topic under discussion. The author’s attempt to use humor in the paper actually works as it gives the article a light tone in contrast to the formal tone used elsewhere in the paper.
The tone is generally formal. The author uses formal language throughout the article, especially in sections where he discusses the effects of the Republicans’ action towards the American population. He gives several consequences of this move, including the inability to manage food-borne illnesses, undertake more foreign inspections, and the effect on the economy. I like the style and tone of the author as it helps to pass the message across and shows the audience the graveness of the topic. He presents factual information that directly relates to the topic under discussion, that is, he does not give extra information that could dilute the intended message or distract the reader from the main topic.
Nocera has written a very captivating article that openly shows the Republicans’ attempts to curtail the activities of the FDA, and the vast consequences of their decision to Americans. As a result, the article is likely to draw heavy criticisms of the Republicans from the general population owing to their actions. What I liked most about the paper is the author’s sagacious use of figures to help in fortifying the thesis of his message. First, he informs readers of how Republicans thwarted attempts to introduce a fee to the industry, a move that would have raised an impressive $300 million. Secondly, he writes that although the President had requested for $955 million for food safety, a $120 million increase from the previous year, Republicans cut the FDA’s budget by $87 million, to $750 million. That was a massive $200 million less than the amount required. He also writes that the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture once said the nation’s food supply is “99.99 percent safe” (Nocera, 2011). What I liked least about the paper was the author’s failure to provide strategies on how the country could achieve, or attempt to achieve, food safety despite the budgetary cuts.
Nocera, J. (2011). Killing Jobs and Making Us Sick. The New York Times, Web.