Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Point is 4,500 Miles That Way

There's missing the point and then there's missing the point. At Big Government, they miss the point. A lot. With gusto.

Today, Bret Jacobson hits us with an absolutely ridiculous article about ergonomics (bad!), OSHA (really bad!!) and government regulation (COMMIEFaciIsmlamoLiberalTerroristS!!!1!!eleventy) complete with a completely absurd political cartoon (why does a camel represent record keeping? Is that something only muslims do?).
Have these people never read The Jungle?

I would like to point out that secretaries get carpel tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. There's no qualifier there, we get them. If you are a secretary, you will most likely be injured and perhaps disabled because of your work. You can spend 4, 6 or 8 straight hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year typing in poor ergonomic situations and avoid injury.

We have 8 secretaries in my office. Of them, 2 have had surgery for carpel tunnel that got to the point where they couldn't button their own shirts, 1 has surgery scheduled for this summer and the rest of us have problems to some degree. I've already started dropping things that I would swear I am holding quite firmly.

Why do we all have carpel tunnel? Bad ergonomics. The above picture is the ideal position for typing. Nobody here has that setup. In order to put my feet flat on the floor, my chair has to be so low, my arms are level with my breasts. The top of my monitor is level with my nose. Everybody's setup is like this, in one way or another. None of it is good for our joints or muscles. We all have sore necks, sore backs, and wrist problems.
Of course I know that all this can be fixed, but my boss isn't going to spend the money to do so unless he has to. (And my increasing disability is not a "has to" for him.) We're not talking about a lot of money, mind you. The fixes wouldn't bankrupt him by any stretch. We've looked into it here. He spends more on copy paper in six months than the one time fix for our collective ergonomic situation. I, unfortunately, cannot replace my desk, even assuming he would allow it, which I doubt.
My point is, government regulation is not a bad thing. It forces companies to do things for the safety of their employees and customers that the company would otherwise have no incentive to do. The Republican ideal seems to be that corporations have a right to make money at the expense of injury to employees and customers.
If you want an example, take a look at Toyota. It's becoming clear that they knew about the problem with their cars for years, but fixing the problem would have cost them money and wtf do they care if you can't stop your car or drive the speed you intend to? How about the unregulated dietary supplements that contained 200 times the amount of selenium advertised on the bottle, sickening over 200 people?
As for the libertarian ideal that the market will fix it all and people won't buy products from companies like that- bullshit. Toyota was the word in quality cars- right up until the story broke that their cars hadn't been quality for years.


  1. The ergonomic standards were done and ready to be put into place in 2001. The Bush administration abruptly cancelled the implementation as soon as Mr. Bush took office.

    I had spent nearly a year planning for the implementation. I did it anyway, and we have had not one single musculo-skeletal injury, whereas we had several before.

  2. To be fair, Toyota isn't the only car company with runaway vehicles, but they are the first to own up to it. I haven't heard about a massive Ford recall yet, and they're sitting at #2 on the list of most reports of unintended acceleration.


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