Monday, October 06, 2003

Ergonomics: From Washington D.C. to Belzoni, Mississippi

Molly Ivins Tells the Truth About Boy George

Looking for something to read after you finish Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right? Read Molly Ivins' Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America. Ivins, as most of you know, is one of the most hard-hitting, amusing and politically astute writers in America. Added to this, she talks to actual, real workers about actual real issues -- like ergonomics -- and relates them back to what Boy George is doing to the people of this country.

This is from an interview with Ivins in the Austin Chronicle:
One of my favorite examples is that chapter on ergonomics ("The Blues in Belzoni"). When Bush came in, he appointed a guy named Eugene Scalia, son of the Supreme Court justice, to be the top lawyer at the Department of Labor. Scalia the Younger has spent his entire career as a very highly paid lobbyist in Washington, working for manufacturers associations, for the specific purpose of defeating ergonomic regulations. That was an effort started at the Labor Department by Elizabeth Dole -- that well-known communist. For 12 years they worked on trying to set up a central set of regulations. Everybody was at the table -- the manufacturers, the labor unions, the docs, all the players -- trying to prevent repetitive stress injuries, which actually cost industries an enormous amount of money, because millions of people get these things from repetitive motions at work. These regs had been worked out, they had been placed in the Federal Register, and then the Bush administration came in with a very clever ploy, and they undid the whole thing.

We went down to Belzoni, Mississippi, to talk to a bunch of very nice black women who work at the Delta Pride Catfish factory there. Not all of them get this, but there is a kind of repetitive stress that results in gangliatic cysts on the back of the wrist. These women -- they're not 30 years old yet -- their fingers look like they have rheumatoid arthritis, their hands look like a bunch of bent twigs. ...

They listened to this whole story about this guy Eugene Scalia -- of course they'd never heard of him, and they'd never heard of "ergonomics" -- but they said, "Huh, he says this is 'junk science'? Well, you tell him I want his ass next to me on the second gut line, and I'll show him some junk science. Just bring that boy down here."