Yet They Want More

Markwayne Mullin wants them all bloodied from the Comstock:

It is true that, for several decades in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, the Supreme Court misread the federal government’s power to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states” to strip the United States of its lawful authority to regulate mining, manufacturing, agriculture and other key elements of the nation’s economy. But it is difficult to understand why Mullin might choose to return to this era. Last year, for example, twenty coal miners died from work related injuries. Every one of these deaths was a tragedy, but is also a far cry from the more than two thousand coal miners killed in 1920 — a time when federal mining safety laws were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Indeed, such high fatality rates were routine in the era of minimal regulation that Mullin seems to pine for today.

Indeed, during the same town hall meeting, Mullin appears outraged that the United States has gone too far to protect workers’ lives — “[i]f you look at the trucking industry, from 1978 til now, we’ve improved our accident rate and fatality rate by almost 80 percent . . . yet they want more.”

We heard this often during the Wisconsin union protests, that basically everything was okay now, so why the need for unions?

And it was enraging on every level, the idea that once you’ve protected yourself, you no longer need protection. That once something has made you less likely to die — and these men died, by the thousands, down in the dark — you can go back to the way it was before, because there’s some devil’s arithmetic that says society is allotted a certain number of deaths of the less wealthy, and we are behind on our numbers lately.

I’d like to say these people, people like Mullin, simply don’t know what it means to labor, to walk out the door every day knowing that even if you you come home, your bones will be a little more brittle, your hands a little more gnarled, your breath a little more choked. I’d like to say people like Mullin have never watched someone die by inches, every day he’s on his feet.

I’d like to say people like Mullin are simply sociopaths, in that they think 20 percent is an acceptable portion of the population to be maimed or killed, such that the rest of us can live comfortably. I’d like to say they’ve never looked a widow or an orphan in the face, and calculated from there, rather than their spreadsheets.

I’d like to blame ignorance or some accident of genetics, that creates moral monsters like this. But it’s the very safety people have fought so hard to create, that creates the illusion that safety is guaranteed and guarantees are no longer required.

On the morning of April 7, 1869, a fire spread at the 800 foot level in the Yellow Jacket Mine.[5] Firefighters entered the mine but the smoke and flames pushed them back. As the fire burned, wood timbers collapsed and poisonous air expanded into the adjacent Kentucky and Crown Point mines. The fires persisted and mine sections were sealed off and remained hot for several years. At least thirty five miners died, and some bodies were never retrieved. The Yellow Jacket Mine fire was the worst mining accident in Nevada history up to that time.

Yet they want more. Because they have to remember, and we don’t.


3 thoughts on “Yet They Want More

  1. since wages have not kept up since the rise of the craporate rite, reagan got the tur started. THANKS REAGAN DEMOCRATS.

  2. There was a recent obituary about “the father of the data center industry”, Ken Brill. Now this is coming from a completely different industry (IT), but he had a quote which just again identified how this is a widespread, continuing problem.
    “Brill likened the problem facing cloud providers to the problem facing Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. It was relatively problem free for 40 years, but then an earthquake and tsunami struck with enormous consequence. Those events exposed weaknesses in the system, which exacerbated the problems. ‘There will always be an advocate for how it can be done cheaper, [but] if you haven’t had a failure for five years — who is the advocate for reliability?’ said Brill. ‘My prediction is that in the years ahead, we will see more failures than we have been seeing, because people have forgotten what we had to do to get to where we are.'”

  3. It seems to be a default position to which a certain strain of libertarian returns, like the fictional Dr. Pangloss by Voltaire: Because “everybody knows” to drive on the right side of the road (for example), it’s simply not necessary to have laws telling people to drive on the right side of the road. As if there’s only so much regulation society can tolerate, and we’re using it up on bagatelles like which side of the road it’s advisable to drive on.
    In reality, of course, taking those “everybody knows” laws off the books is an open invitation to the nitwits and halfwits to do as they please, to everyone’s detriment: “There’s no law saying I shouldn’t drive on the sidewalk, or careen down the left lane if nobody’s coming, so why shouldn’t I? It’s up to everyone else to keep an eye out for me! And if you wind up under my wheels, it’s your own fault.”

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