You hear or read somet things and immediately think “uh huh…that’s about right”. This headline in yesterday’s NYT is one of those times:
OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry
In this administration? You bet. This graphic tells you about all you need to know:
Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.
What do we have instead? A “voluntary compliance strategy”. Now I will say that if you really want to run a good business and be responsible, this strategy should work. I need only point to the tobacco industry as an example of why this might not work. Companies generally aren’t in the business of doing good – though they could be – they are in the busines of making money. Generally by any means necessary, including killing people.
Voluntary compliance is like having a “criminals turn in your guns day”. Some might turn in non-working Saturday Night Specials for the right price, but it would probably make little dent in the overall problem. Want numbers? How about 1% of the workforce being covered by such voluntary programs. Very nice.
Want some “follow the money” action? How’s this:
Three of the biggest industries regulated by OSHA ? transportation, agribusiness and construction ? have given more than $630 million in political campaign contributions since 2000, with nearly three-quarters of that money going to Republicans. The Bush administration has promised to address their concerns.
Want some Christofascist love? Got that too:
?We?re also going to bring a transparency to the regulatory jungle that is unprecedented in the federal government,? Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told business owners in a speech on June 2002. ?There are more words in the Federal Register describing OSHA regulations than there are words in the Bible. They?re a lot less inspired to read and a lot harder to understand. This is not fair.?
Want some local flavor? Aight:
Keith Campbell had worked at a Conagra microwave popcorn factory in Marion, Ohio, for two years when he got sick. He was then 44, but his doctors told him he had the lung capacity of an 80-year-old, Mr. Campbell said in an interview. He has extreme difficulty breathing, particularly in cold weather. ?It?s affected my entire life,? he said.
Uh huh. That’s about right…