Monday, September 08, 2003

Late Labor Day Gift: Molly Ivins Gets It, Wish More Did

It's so nice to occasionally read a column where a journalist -- in this case Molly Ivins recognizes what working people are dealing with in this country, and how the Bush administration is dissing them right and left -- actually just right.

And icing on the cake is that she hasn't forgotten the first high crimes of George the W and his Republican friends: the repeal of the ergonomics standard, followed by the appointment of ergo foe Gene Scalia to Solicitor of Labor, and then deciding to solve the ergonomics problem by just not counting the injuries.
Another insulting episode came when Bush named Eugene Scalia (son of the Supreme Court justice) as solicitor of the Department of Labor, apparently as a cruel joke. Scalia's specialty as a K Street lobbyist was fighting ergonomic regulations.

For years he attacked and mocked the very idea of repetitive stress injuries, calling them "junk science," "exotic and absurd, like a trip through Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean." "Work less, and you'll feel better! Why I've experienced the same thing myself!"

He has written that heavy lifting does not cause back strain and that reported increases in repetitive stress injuries are caused by "feeding frenzies." Try doing the same thing hundreds and hundreds of times an hour, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.

Has Scalia, who has since left the post, or President Bush ever held a job that involved physical labor?

One of this administration's first actions was to repeal the ergonomic regulations that prevent repetitive stress. Two years later, the administration solved the entire problem with characteristic brilliance: It revoked the provision requiring employers to report such injuries! This was almost as good as the time that the administration solved global warming by simply editing it out of an environmental report.
Now can we make sure our Democratic presidential candidates don't overlook this little bit of history as well?