Sunday, November 30, 2008

We Don't Need No Stinking Safeguards

According to the rules Bush is pushing through in the last weeks of his presidency, industrial chemicals are entitled to full civil rights. Why should we rush to ban dangerous chemicals? The Bush administration is saying we need to study their effects on workers over a longer period of time and in more work settings. Observe the harm being done and take careful notes which can be carefully lost or hidden.

Just because a chemical kills one worker or seven or a hundred doesn't meant it will kill the next worker who breathes it or is doused with it. Maybe the dead worker wasn't being careful enough. And why ban the chemical, which was completely innocent? The chemical probably didn't intend to injure or kill anyone.

In any case, why jump to conclusions? It's not fair to assume that a poisonous chemical will actually kill or sicken anyone just because some scientist says so. It's important to prove it by watching while it poisons and kills workers. Safeguards are unfair to the chemicals being safeguarded against.

The Bush administration is also looking at the cost/benefit ratio. Perhaps it's worthwhile for a small number of replaceable workers, a few dozen or a few hundred, to be poisoned in exchange for larger profits. There is no shortage of workers, so why endanger profits which are the envy of the world? Maybe the workers who don't die from the poisonous chemicals right away ought to keep their mouths shut and be grateful they have jobs, at least until the poison kills them or makes them too sick to work. Until that happens they can count themselves lucky.

The Bush administration is also thinking that the chemicals which the overly judgmental and old-fashioned, namby-pamby Democratic safeguards are unfairly condemning might not cause grievous harm for a long time. Maybe the damage is so slow the worker doesn't realize it's happening until it's too late, which is O.K.

Maybe these chemicals won't kill or poison workers so that you'd even notice it, but only cause invisible harm to their chromosomes. Why stop using the chemicals now, harming profits, when the damage won't be known until the children of the workers begin to suffer the various horrible inherited side effects? Those sorts of things are hard to prove anyway, and probably too complicated for a jury to understand. Looked at on a cost/benefit basis, the lawyers fees are trivial next to the profit enjoyed over all those years. And besides any verdict or damages a jury assesses can be easily overturned by the judges Bush has appointed in his two terms in office.

This move by the Bush administration makes sense if you look at it through Bush's eyes. Nobody he knows personally will ever be harmed by it. In a way, these overprotective safeguards are really an insult to workers. Safeguards imply that workers are babies and need to be coddled and sheltered. American workers are the toughest in the world and it is unpatriotic to say otherwise. In pushing through these new lax rules on dangerous chemicals, President Bush would like to show the world once and for all how tough American workers are. American workers are not babies. Every red-blooded American worker ought to thank the president for making this clear.


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