Fatal building collapse in Bangladesh.
The collapse of an industrial building in Bangladesh has killed at least 238, a number that will likely rise. In the face of that tragedy, Matt Yglesias, who will get no links from me for this blatant linkbait, suggested that it's just dandy for Bangladesh to have weak workplace safety laws because that's the way for Bangladeshi workers to have jobs—if their lives are seen as disposable. In response, Erik Loomis takes him to the woodshed:
I know that Yglesias doesn’t go this far, but assuming that people agree to take risks by working dangerous jobs places the onus for safety on workers and not the corporations who could easily grant workers safe working conditions. It rationalizes away antisocial corporate behavior. By deploying a fatalistic history of the Industrial Revolution that countries must go through periods where their workers have no safety before they advance, Yglesias provides a structure to justify the death of 200 workers yesterday. [...]

There’s also the issue of democracy and choice. What are workers actually choosing when they make these theoretical choices to enter the plant? The choice many tried to make was not to work in unsafe conditions. They were threatened with severe pay loss that placed their families’ already precarious economic system in even more danger. Bangladeshi workers have tried to organize into unions. What happened? Their organizers were murdered. The building is owned by a local political elite. What chance did workers have to create change? Workers try to make choices. Those choices are denied them by an international corporate-political alliance. The choices are made for workers by Wal-Mart, by their corrupt elites, by the bullet from a police officer’s gun.

Not only was what Yglesias wrote shockingly immoral, he also got some things just plain factually wrong, as Loomis shows. Read the whole thing.

And more:

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Invisible People.

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