Sunday, September 16, 2012

While You Were Looking at TV

This happened in Pakistan this past week:

I'd just repost the whole thing, as it is dead on right. But I will leave you to go to Mr. Knuckles' joint, and encourage you with just a tidbit:

This is why OSHA exists.

This [is] where we were a hundred fucking years ago and it happened again yesterday in Pakistan.

300 people burned to death because of greed.

Because some fucking “Job Creator” decided he could make more money selling goods produced by paying near slave wages to non people working in a shithole instead of paying decent wages in a safe workplace.

We used to make those products right here in the good old United States of America.

But we cost too much.

They don’t want to pay us a living wage.

They make more money this way.

Tomorrow they will start building another shithole exactly like the one that just burned down and there will be people lined up to get in it and work for shit wages in unsafe conditions because that’s all there is and there isn’t a fucking thing you can do to change that.

Even the Republicans, now and again, give lip service to the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence, such as that human beings have some rights simply qua being human. These rights are not rights of American citizens--they are human rights. Work place rules and safety regulations, and even unions, exist to further the actual existence of these human rights. Otherwise, such human rights are just scratches on paper which, when combined with oily rags discarded after being used to clean the knitting machines, can spontaneously combust. It's not magic. It's physics. Mr. Romney spouts his platitudes, but supports the rationalizations that lead to events such as those described.

The photo is from another industrial plant fire with heavy loss of life. The fire occurred in Hamlet, NC, in 1991. Here's some information about the photo:

Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

Imperial Food Products Plant, Hamlet, North Carolina, June 1994

Chromogenic print
18 1/2 x 23 in. (unframed); 28 x 32 in. (framed)
Twenty-five employees died and fifty-six were injured in a fire that swept through this chicken processing plant on September 3, 1991. Nearly all of the victims died of smoke inhalation while trying to escape through exits that were illegally blocked or padlocked. The plant had no fire alarm, no automatic sprinklers, and one fire extinguisher. Emmett J. Roe, owner of Imperial Food Products, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to almost twenty years in prison. Loretta Goodwin, a worker who survived the fire, claimed that the company kept the doors locked to prevent employees from stealing chickens.

From the series, On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam
Acquired from the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, through an Anonymous Gift, 1997.287

It might reasonably be noted that North Carolina is a pioneer in the field of "Right to Work" legislation, having passed such laws in the late 1950s, with the result that in North Carolina unions are close to nonexistent. Our laws are the model for the current crop of union-busting legislation cropping up in states which went "tea party right" in 2010. I'm certain that one of these days some one will write a book about the ALEC tutorials which gave rise to the coincidence of so many states passing new legislation on this "front."

For more on the Hamlet fire, see Lawrence Naumoff's fine book, A Southern Tragedy, in Crimson and Yellow (2005).


  1. I wanted to stop by and thank you for the link and your comments at my place.
    After reading a few of your posts I can honestly say that I like your style.
    I have just added you to my Blogroll and will see about stopping in on occasion.
    As long as I have been surfing the net, I can't believe I haven't run across you so far!
    I also see you have been blogging a long damned time .

    Keep up the good work.


  2. There's quite a few people writing on the internet. I'm not surprised you didn't run into my little teenincy corner before. But thanks much for your note. I'll be checking into your blog regularly.