Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Today is the Centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Right about now, 100 years ago, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Due to unsafe conditions typical in sweatshops of the time, in 18 minutes 146 people were dead. For more information, go here.

If anyone wonders why I have been sickened for years by the free trade mantra and its cheerleaders like Thomas Friedman, there it is. Because we had the basic decency to acknowledge that disasters like that should not happen, we implemented building, fire, and health codes and worker safety regulations. The free traders have put our businesses, our industry, our people, and our nation at the mercy of countries that have no such decency. We are competing with imports from countries that are willing to have any number and variety of disasters so long as they can produce cheap goods that undersell and undermine our domestic economy.

There is a technical, legal term for free trade arguments that produce such results: crap.

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