Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tilting the Playing Field with OSHA

Shocking. Just shocking. Who would have imagined that the Bush administration would be taking steps to tilt the playing field in favor of corporations at the expense of average workers? From the NY Times today:
OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry

[T]he Bush administration... vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers. Across Washington, political appointees — often former officials of the industries they now oversee — have eased regulations or weakened enforcement of rules on issues like driving hours for truckers, logging in forests and corporate mergers.

Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.
And here's the pretty picture that tells the story in a nutshell:

You have to acknowledge the incredible consistency of the Bush administration. On every aspect of the workings of the federal government there's one unifying guiding principle that directs all policy-making: always do whatever increases corporate profits, regardless of the moral, ideological, or human implications.

Increasingly, I'm becoming convinced that stories like this explain much of the rapid rise in income inequality in the US in recent years. It's a matter of consistency, and patience... like an inexorable geological process. Each individual regulatory or policy change has no measurable effect on income inequality, but the hundreds of individual decisions on taxes, the environment, the social safety net, energy policy, Medicare, international trade, and worker safety are like countless tiny accretions that collect over time to form a mass large enough to have perceptibly changed the landscape, and to have tilted the balance of power away from average Americans and toward corporate management and owners.

It seems quite plausible to me that this explains how the shares of income that corporations and their workers each receive have been altered as a direct result of policy decisions taken by the federal government. This is just one good example (of many) of that process.

UPDATE: edited for clarity.

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