and financial institutions being a special species within the private sector, this story does not allow for any generalized critique on the private sector itself.
... confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. ...
Using a combination of sources — a practice followed by most large producers of fresh and packaged hamburger — allowed Cargill to spend about 25 percent less than it would have for cuts of whole meat.
Those low-grade ingredients are cut from areas of the cow that are more likely to have had contact with feces, which carries E. coli, industry research shows. Yet Cargill, like most meat companies, relies on its suppliers to check for the bacteria and does its own testing only after the ingredients are ground together. ...
Unwritten agreements between some companies appear to stand in the way of ingredient testing. Many big slaughterhouses will sell only to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli, according to officials at two large grinding companies. Slaughterhouses fear that one grinder's discovery of E. coli will set off a recall of ingredients they sold to others.
In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses.
However, the vast majority of those polluters have escaped punishment.
[The NY Times ]research shows that an estimated one in 10 Americans have been exposed to drinking water that contains dangerous chemicals or fails to meet a federal health benchmark in other ways.
... stretched resources [at the regulators] are only part of the reason polluters escape punishment. The Times's investigation shows that in West Virginia and other states, powerful industries have often successfully lobbied to undermine effective regulation.
I also disagree that the story of the crisis was "incredibly complex". Though the technical details of some of the financial instruments etc are definitely difficult to grasp for lay people like me, the basic theme is simple: greed. The basic story is also pretty straightforward as I understand it: Giving loans to anyone who had a pulse, packaging the loans, and then dicing and slicing the packages into all kinds of different financial instruments and selling the instruments and placing bets on these instruments failing, backed by insurance provided by reckless (or clueless) insurance companies.