“Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later!”

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's "The M...

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Regulation: the bane of every businessman’s existence; an annoyance to every citizen! Regulation is the prime reason that our prices are rising and our profits fall. Try that line of reasoning with any mesothelioma patient, or anyone who has lost digits in a table saw accident, because no blade guard was present. Ask any quadriplegic, who slammed his or her head into a windshield, whether or not a lap restraint was involved.
Medieval France had a mill for every mile of riverbank. Water powered mills were used for a myriad variety of manufacturing needs before the advent of steam or electric power. Leather processing is a prime example.
Leather was a basic raw material for many industries. Beside the manufacture of shoes and boots, belts, a variety of bags and items of clothing, even military items, such as shields or bucklers could be covered with leather. Tanning produced enough pollutants that Medieval French Rivers were colored with an assortment of brilliant colours and often scorched the nasal hairs of passersby.
Many ancient references record the inability of French rivers to freeze in the winter. Needless to say, the Medieval French were not avid swimmers, and very likely cultivated their famous wines as a result of the non-potability of ground water. The safety of French water remained questionable for generations.
Let us not even consider the aspect of dumping raw sewage into water sources. Every nation can show examples of this, with several instances of correlated epidemics. Of course, this is the origin of modern public health laws.
It is ludicrous to question the validity of regulations which protect the safety of our drinking water. A glimpse at the numbers of Mexican citizens living in communities surrounding recently relocated US factories, and their sudden development of horrible illnesses such as Leukemia, speaks loudly of the danger of dumping manufacturing waste into sources of drinking water.
Shall we avoid the humanistic arguments about safety, and the morbidity and mortality identified with a lack of it, in matters of public health? Consider only the economics. How much money is presently awarded to patients with industrial associated mesothelioma, or their survivors, when the lawsuits end? A cottage industry has sprung up among attorneys litigating this area, because it has become so profitable. When their insurance runs out, and the patients still need care and wind up in ‘charity hospitals’ or ‘teaching hospitals’, who pays for their care? You do. Your tax money does.
How productive may a carpenter or cabinet maker be, after he has traumatically amputated some of his digits on one of his hands, compared to his productivity prior to the incident? What if the nature of his injury is so severe, that he must collect disability insurance? Who pays for this? Same answer. Your insurance rates will increase, should he have private coverage, or his injury will become a part of the present Social Security debacle. Either way, the injured or ill person will require public assistance for food and housing, because disability insurance hardly allows an affluent lifestyle.
The expenses associated with spinal cord trauma are self evident. Irrespective of how comprehensive the patient’s health insurance may be, eventually, he will be on public assistance. Social responsibility requires that. There go your tax dollars! Regulating the behaviours which caused these problems would effectively deter most of them, thereby lowering, not increasing costs, and raising revenue.
Alright, so let us take a Social Darwinist approach. Forget about the ‘General Welfare’ clause of the US Constitution. Just let the mesothelioma patient suffocate by the roadside. Let the maimed wood worker beg on the sidewalk. Throw the quad into a ditch! Let him lie there in his own excrement. So they all suffer and die! Who cares? Let us only consider the ‘bottom line’!
Edgar Alan Poe wrote in his Masque of the Red Death, of the very rich and powerful members of society, who locked themselves away in a tower, while the masses screamed and moaned, and perished in the epidemic outside. One evening, the lord of the impregnable tower declared a masquerade ball. The revelers danced and danced, until midnight. Then, Death found them out in spite of their seclusion, and one by one they perished. Any source of illness or infection can give rise to epidemic. A virulent microbe merely needs a willing environment.
Before you dismiss the potential risks and sufferings of others, and consider only your bottom line, I must remind you. You are your brother’s keeper! If you choose otherwise, eventually you will pay. As the man said, “Pay me, now, or pay me, later!”


About Stefan Jacke

MagicRobert presented me with a vellum document, composed in an insane script. We were in a well secured vault in the Michener Library. His face exploded into a broad smile, as he saw me recognize the words, "That government governs best which governs least." It was a copy of "On Civil Disobedience" in the author's own hand. The experience called to mind a conversation Henry David Thoreau had with Ralph Waldo Emerson, as Thoreau sat in a jail cell, incarcerated for protesting the Mexican War. Emerson asked, "David, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau responded, "The point is, Ralph, what are you doing out there?" Once, long ago, I jumped off of big red trucks, lifted weights, and cleaned toilets for a living. Then I wrestled drunks, ran around in circles, and got splattered with blood and all manner of body fluids for a living. Now I enjoy the stillness of early morning in my rocking chair on the porch, with a hot cup of coffee, trying in vain to forget the past. Thank you, Robert!
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One Response to “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later!”

  1. I look at this much the same as you. The only reason for NOT wanting regulation, is that Big Business wants to cut down on the cost of insuring that their product is safe. Who cares… slap it out there! I just read that a large amount of turkey or chicken has just been recalled due to salmonella poisoning. Might the regulations need be even stricter? Or is Big Biz paying off the regulators? Maybe we need even more regulation? Or close ANY and ALL companies down where injuries or sicknesses are caused due to lousy, unsafe, cuts in safety mechanisms within their businesses. Make them eat the chicken that caused the illness. Make them drive the car with faulty breaks. Make them use the equipment that cost someone their fingers. You get what I’m saying. Tax payers aren’t making the big bucks off their businesses, why should we pay for their selfish carelessness?

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