Unions, or Private Industry?

This was posted at the Brain Police, where Microdot suggests that the video should go viral.  I couldn’t agree more.  Eric Cantor sent this video around in 2009 as his idea of a joke! Perhaps, He thought it was a joke about linking the Unions and the Mafia with a little ethnic stereotyping?

The problem is that the video makes the point about Unions fighting the deregulation bullshit that the like Cantor are trying to shove down their throats, for the personal gain of a few.  It does it with style and in the language most Americans truly understand, except for little naive lilly white elitist jerks like Cantor.

The problem is that the reality was that business would cut corners if everything is privatised and not care about safety–hence the pure food and drug act of 1906. During the nineteenth century, much of the food consumed by the working-class family was adulterated by foreign substances, contaminated by chemicals, or befouled by animal and human excrement. A.S. Wohl points out:

to look back nostalgically and assume, for example, that the bread which formed the staff of life was home-baked, or, if bought, was wholesome and nutritional, is romantic nonsense. By the 1840s home baked bread had died out among the rural poor; in the small tenements of the urban masses, unequipped as these were with ovens, it never existed. In 1872 Dr. Hassall, the pioneer investigator into food adulteration and the principal reformer in this vital area of health, demonstrated that half of the bread he examined had considerable quanities of alum. Alum, while not itself poisonous, by inhibiting the digestion could lower the nutritional value of other foods.

The list of poisonous additives reads like the stock list of some mad and malevolent chemist: strychnine, cocculus inculus (both are hallucinogens) and copperas in rum and beer; sulphate of copper in pickles, bottled fruit, wine, and preserves; lead chromate in mustard and snuff; sulphate of iron in tea and beer; ferric ferrocynanide, lime sulphate, and turmeric in chinese tea; copper carbonate, lead sulphate, bisulphate of mercury, and Venetian lead in sugar confectionery and chocolate; lead in wine and cider; all were extensively used and were accumulative in effect, resulting, over a long period, in chronic gastritis, and, indeed, often fatal food poisoning. Red lead gave Gloucester cheese its ‘healthy’ red hue, flour and arrowroot a rich thickness to cream, and tea leaves were ‘dried, dyed, and recycled again.’

As late as 1877 the Local Government Board found that approximately a quarter of the milk it examined contained excessive water, or chalk, and ten per cent of all the butter, over eight per cent of the bread, and 50 per cent of the gin had copper in them to heighten the color.

Indeed, as Wohl further points out, even luxury items for the relatively well off were hardly any better. The London County Country Medical Officer discovered, for example, the following in samples of ice cream: cocci, bacilli, torulae, cotton fiber, lice, bed bugs, bug’s legs, fleas, straw, human hair, and cat and dog hair. Such contaminated ice cream caused diphtheria, scarlet fever, diarrhoea, and enteric fever. “The Privy Council estimated in 1862 that one-fifth of butcher’s meat in England and Wales came from animals which were ‘considerably diseased’ or had died of pleuro-pneumonia, and anthacid or anthracoid diseases.”

Do you trust private industry to safeguard the health and environment given its track record?

I don’t.

References

Bentley, Nicolas. The Victorian Scene: 1837-1901. London: Spring Books, 1971, p. 100.
Wohl, Anthony S. Endangered Lives: Public Health in Victorian Britain. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1983.

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Posted 16/07/2011 by lacithedog in privatisation, privatization, Union, Unions

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