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The Tale of 3M

Once upon a time there was a company called 3M. You might recall that name because everybody loved them when they made a billion face masks during the pandemic. Remember at the beginning everybody was like, “Where are we gonna get enough face masks?! We need roughly a quadrillion and the entire US only has… seven. What are we gonna do?”

So people were wearing all kinds of weird shit on their faces. And then a few companies like 3M said, “We got it. We’re national heroes. We’re like the dudes who landed on the moon.” And I was like, “No you aren’t! You’re fuckin’ making a boatload of cash. You’re not sacrificing your life, running into enemy fire with a knife between your teeth. No, you saw that you could make a trillion dollars by pumping out face masks. Stop acting like you cured polio with a third grade chemistry set.

Anyway, 3M made a lot of the face masks. Not mine. Mine were made by Frito-Lay so that I could wear it on the bus but then, in a pinch, eat it. They were delicious. Do you have any idea how much guac you can fit on one of those things? It’s great. But a lot of people were wearing the far less edible 3M masks.

But 3M doesn’t only make pandemic masks. They also have a company called Aero that makes industrial earplugs that our military wear so the soldiers can do their important work without being interrupted by the screams of their victims. (That’s the worst — when you’re trying to kill a bunch of people and they’re all yelling about something or other and you’re like, “I can’t even hear myself THINK! Could you keep it down while we bomb?!”)

But it gets even better. As American Prospect reported, “Aearo and its parent company 3M had supplied millions of earplugs to nearly all troops who served between 2006 and 2015. Each pair of earplugs was faulty, due to a mechanical flaw discovered in 2000… and subsequently hidden. Now, more than 160,000 veterans, current service members, and civilians are suing 3M for hearing loss, in one of the largest litigations of its kind in U.S. history.”

3M gave the troops earplugs that they knew failed to plug the ear — which is, like, their one job. So 160,000 former troops have hearing loss or tinnitus. And that 160,000 military personnel harmed is actually now up to 290,000. So how are those lawsuits going? Well, a few months ago Reuters reported 3M was ordered to pay $77.5 million to a single veteran in the latest earplug trial.

But 3M, like every major corporation, has a way to escape paying for their crimes. To learn the rest of the story, watch the full video HERE.