Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The ultimate corruption

For an example of how thoroughly corrupt the Bush administration is, take a look at The New York Times' analysis of the way the Occupational Health and Safety Administration had betrayed its role of protecting American workers.

As The Times recounts, OSHA has ignored clear dangers to workers, refused to issue binding regulations and, instead, relied heavily on voluntary cooperation from the businesses it was set up to regulate. Simply put, that is a recipe for death and injuries among the very people whom OSHA is supposed to protect. If you don't think so, look at it this way: which businesses are most and least likely to comply with voluntary standards? The ones that are already concerned with the health and safety of their workers (frequently because a union is involved) will meet voluntary standards, because it seems to be good business to do so. But the companies that have dangerous workplaces are hardly going to change their ways just because OSHA tells them that it would be nice if they did so. It hardly needs to be pointed out that the whole reason why we need a health and safety agency is to deal with the second kind of employer.

OSHA and its regulations are seldom the stuff of headlines. The agency's operations generally fly beneath the radar, so it is the perfect place to apply the Repubs' doctrine of hollowing out government agencies in aid of private greed--even where life and health is at stake.

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