FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We the Corporations …

 

Dear President Bush:

I was listening to your address before the self-described Conservative Political Action Committee gathering in Washington, D.C. last week, while reviewing materials on occupational hazards in the workplace. The contrast between your declarations and the ongoing annual tragedy of 58,000 Americans losing their lives due to workplace diseases and traumas (OSHA figures) was astonishing and deplorable.

Your remarks included such phrases as “You and I believe in accountability;” “People should be responsible for their actions;” “Maintaining a culture of life;” and that “My number one priority is to protect you;” “All human life is precious and deserves to be protected.”

These are words and phrases that you have been using year after year in your capacity as a judicially-selected President who has sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.

Therefore, let us apply your verbal sensitivities about accountability, responsibility and the safety of working Americans, to your sworn duty to uphold the job safety laws of your Administration.

Having been deeply involved in the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1970-during the Nixon Administration, I know that its principal mission was regulatory: to establish federal workplace safety standards, enforce them and upgrade them to avoid obsolescence.

Although in its 37 year history, OSHA regulations and inspections saved many lives, the latter two-thirds of its history has witnessed a serious deterioration in its performance. It is now a captive of industry, under budgeted, understaffed with a consulting attitude rather than a law-and-order, live-saving determination.

Under the Clinton Administration, not one chemical control regulation was initiated and issued in eight years. Under your regime, OSHA is dormant. Your Secretary of Labor ignores it where she does not actually operate to keep it asleep. Yet, on average, every week over 1000 Americans die from the workplace exposures.

Under the Reagan Administration, the White House rejected an urgent request by the physicians at the Centers for Disease Control for a three million dollar budget to send certified letters to 250,000 workers found in a lengthy field study to be exposed to significant hazards-chemical and particulate-in their factories, foundries and mines. The letters were to urge the workers to have their doctors check them out for actual or incipient diseases. Instead, the workers were left defenseless.

Last week, an explosive fireball imploded the century-old Dixie Crystal sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, taking, at latest count, seven lives and causing many serious injuries. This is only the latest of a steady series of explosions, mine collapses, cave-ins at construction sites and other fatally traumatic occurrences.

And who can forget the gripping, prize-winning series in The New York Times in January, 2003 that began with these words:

“Tyler, Texas-It is said that only the desperate seek work at Tyler Pipe, a sprawling, rusting pipe foundry out on Route 69, just past the flea market. Behind a high metal fence lies a workplace that is part Dickens and part Darwin, a dim, dirty, hellishly hot place where men are regularly disfigured by amputations and burns, where turnover is so high that convicts are recruited from local prisons”

Tyler Pipe is owned by McWane, Inc. of Burmingham, Alabama, which is a very large manufacturer of cast-iron sewer and water pipe. Since 1995, according to a nine-month investigation by the Times, PBS and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “at least 4,600 injuries have been recorded in McWane foundries, many hundreds of them serious ones.” They included fatalities.

Numerous coal companies were finally caught a few years ago faking their coal dust samples to avoid federal regulations designed to diminish coal miners’ Pneumoconiosis. Fines for these deliberate violations were, as usual, slaps on the companies’ wrists. Since 1900, more coal miners have lost their lives from coal dust and mine collapses than all the Americans lost in World War II. And that is just one industry!

So, where is George W. Bush? The man who says his Job One is to protect the safety of Americans. Has he visited any of their disasters caused by corporate wrongdoing, not by natural disasters? Has he ever made a major speech or proposed a decent budget and stronger enforcement and authority for the federal worker safety and health agencies?

Has he been maintaining “a culture of life” under an “accountability” framework? Does he believe that he and his top appointees have “been responsible for their actions.” Not at all.

Perhaps you are not worried about this lonely epidemic of death, disease and injury day after day, since it is not caused by terrorists. Even if every three weeks, workplace conditions lead to a fatality toll greater than 9/11. Imagine, every three weeks, on average.

Remember Mr. Bush, you said “all human life is precious and deserves to be protected.” This is especially so when the perils are so preventable by timely regulatory inspections and enforcement of up-to-date life-saving standards.

It comes back, in the final analysis, to that oath of office you took, doesn’t it, to enforce the laws under our Constitution whose preamble starts with “We the People.” Not “We the Corporations.”

RALPH NADER is the author of The Seventeen Traditions

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail