In China in 2007, more than 100,000 workers died in workplace accidents, including on the roads and railways. China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with fatal accidents taking place almost on a daily basis as mine owners push productions beyond safety limits to pursue profits.
THE STRATIFICATION OF THE DIRTIEST & MOST LETHAL JOBS
Every civilization has a demand for dirty work and must find someone to do it. Historically, richer societies tend to import their underclasses, while the poorer make them out of their own elements.
Dalit worker cleaning the sewers in New Delhi Credit: Pranjal Goswami
The Powder Monkeys, Cape Horn, 1865 by Mian Situ. Chinese laborers were hired for $28 per month to do the very dangerous work of blasting tunnels and laying tracks. The Chinese, using techniques they learned at home, were lowered in baskets by rope from the top of cliffs. They hand drilled holes into the granite and packed them with black powder (and later nitroglycerine) to blast tunnels.
More than 104,000 Americans died digging out coal between 1900 and 2005; twice as many may have died from black lung. The fatality rate in coal mining is almost 60 percent higher than it is in oil and gas extraction. --Corey S. Powell. Black Cloud (review of Jeff Goodells Big Coal). New York Times (June 25, 2006)
Three years ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, added overnight shift work as a probable carcinogen. --Maria Cheng. Graveyard shift work linked to cancer. AP (Nov. 29, 2007) A New Twist on Graveyard Shifts
INDUSTRIALIZATION PRODUCED LETHAL CLASHES BETWEEN LABOR & MANAGEMENT
"The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today." --A.Spies The Haymarket Martyrs' Monument
"The raising of wages leads to overwork among the workers. The more they want to earn, the more they must sacrifice their time and perform slave labour in which their freedom is totally alienated...In so doing they shorten their lives … Thus, even in the state of society which is the most favorable to the worker, the inevitable result for the worker is overwork and premature death, reduction to a machine, enslavement to capital."
The first national social security program was implemented in 1884 by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who established that "magic age" of 65 at a time when life expectancy at birth was about 37 years. Bismarck's motivations were not so much humanitarian as they were politically motivated: the masses had to be weaned away from socialism, just as was the case sixty years later when FDR penned the United States program into law.
So what age nowadays is equivalent to age 65 in the 1880s?
1880-902005-7 Expected remaining years of life at 30 36.13 54.44 … at 50 22.06 35.17 (Australian figures) … at 65 12.27 21.62 In 1900, 50% of a birth cohort would be dead at age 58; in 2006, at age 79
GETTING MORE MACRO: DEATH, GLOBALIZATION, & MODERNITY
Taken in Karamoja district, Uganda in April 1980, the contrasting hands of a starving boy and a missionary. The 1980 famine killed 21% of the population (and 60% of the infants) and was one of the worst in history.
What is globalization? Increasingly unimpeded international flows of information and capital Rising power of multinational corporations Increasing economic growthand inequalities
Globalism is the ideology of "free trade." It aims to open up national economies so that multinational companies, using modern transportation and communications, can freely shift their capital, technology and products around the world so as to maximise their profits by: Exploiting the cheapest labor costs, shifting operations to Asia where wage rates are between 39¢ and $1.00/hr; Minimising their taxes (60 percent of multinationals in Australia pay no company tax and 40 percent pay hardly any); Merging with and taking over competitors to reduce competition and increase market share; Gaining larger markets in Asia, Latin America, Russia; Avoiding legal restraints, especially environmental and labor laws; and Shifting speculative capital around the world financial markets to exploit currency, interest rate, bond rate and stockmarket changes. --Globalismthe theory and the reality, News Weekly (Jan. 13, 2001)Globalismthe theory and the reality
Nowadays, developing countries become the site of toxic trash disposal or salvaging, such as of computers. Broken mercury thermometers and other toxic waste from the thermometer-manufacturing plant in Kodaikanal, India. Photos by Shailendra Yashwant
A man works on retrieving small parts from disused computers in a room in New Delhi. India is fast becoming a dumping ground for electronic waste, especially computers from the US, Singapore and South Korea, environmental group Toxics Link warned.(AFP/HO)
Poor nations are littered with old PCs. Here waste from electronic devices litter a Nigerian neighborhood. Computer monitors can contain large amounts of toxic materials.
EXPORTING DANGEROUS JOBS AND POLLUTING WORKPLACES ABROAD Union Carbide and Bhopal, India, where 42 tons of the deadly methyl isocyanate gas drifted over the sleeping town, killing more than 5,000 over three days and injuring up to 200,000. At least 20,000 have died as result of exposure. Union Carbide and Bhopal, India There have been no criminal verdicts issued Union Carbide settled with the Indian government for $470 million in 1989 90% of death settlements have been for $550 Union Carbide abandoned the plant, never cleaning up the polluted soil and water
Other Bhopal statistics as of 2010, the factory has been leaking toxic chemicals for 25 years an estimated 20,000 people have died there as a result since criminal charges were filed against him in 1991, Union Carbide's former CEO has been in hiding -- Source: Greenpeace International (Washington)/Harper's Jan. 2003]
What is modernity? Society and social life is organized around secular rather than religious beliefs and practices: science and reason vs. supernatural forces and fate Life worlds shaped by urbanization and cosmopolitanism Political realm based on democratic principles with bureaucracies oriented around welfare and warfare functions Economic realm characterized industrialization, services, and capitalism
Lets examine the declining Russian life expectancies due to the economic shock of mass privatization following the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
Tomoko Uemura in her Bath – by W. Eugene Smith. Victim of fetal mercury poisoning.
An open oil pit near La Joya de los Sachas, Ecuador. A lethal legacy of Chevron.
LOVE CANALLOVE CANAL, NY This incomplete trench, built in the 1890s, became a chemical dumping ground from the 1930s through the 1950s. Developers built residential areas in proximity to the dump site.
In 25 days an adult in Los Angeles breathes in more air pollution than EPA guidelines recommend for a lifetime. --Harpers Index, Dec. 2002
Between 1988 and 2008, medical- supply companies dumped 421,500 tons of active pharmaceutical ingredients into the environment. --Harpers Index, June 2009
According to a Congressional study, 1.4 billion tons of waste is generated by animals on megafarms in more than 40 states130 times the amount of waste annually produced by the entire American population. --Parade.com IntelligenceReport, Nov. 11, 2007
In the 2007 Faroes Statement, two hundred scientists warned how early exposure to common chemicals leaves babies more likely to develop serious diseases later in life, including diabetes, attention deficits, certain cancers, thyroid disorders, and obesity. From the moment of conception onward occurs fetal programming, or epigenetics, affecting which genes get turned on or off and what proteins are manufactured, in what sequence and quantity.
PRODUCTS THAT KILL Some industries continue to produce products knowing full well that either the product or the production process could be fatal.
People killed by Iraqi chemical weapons in the six-year period preceding the 2003 U.S. War on Iraq: 0; People killed by pesticides, as estimated by the World Health Organization, during the same six-year period: over 1,000,000.
According to a World Health Organization report of Feb. 2008, tobacco use killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century and could kill one billion people in the 21st unless governments act now to dramatically reduce it.
The Kent cigarettes on the market between 1952 and 1956 had an unusually effective filter made from pure asbestos. --Devra Davis, The Secret History of the War on Cancer
In July 2006, the New York Times observed how the skull has lost virtually all of its fearsome meaning. --David Colman. The Heyday of the Dead. New York Times (July 27, 2006)
Black Friday was particularly black in 2008. On the shopping day following Thanksgiving, a crowd of 2,000 people who had been lining up overnight broke down the doors of a Wal-Mart in suburban Long Island, NY. As they stampeded through, a 34-year-old man was knocked down and trampled to death.
In India people are trampled to death for religious commitment, in America, it's to buy a DVD player for $50.