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Monday, October 17, 2011

Optimistic about America

Today I feel optimistic about America’s future.  I feel this way when I see that historically the country has done what it was important to do.  This applies to regulations regarding economic matters—such as the regulation of railroads.  It always relates to social matters such as civil rights.

In the late 1800’s the railroads found it cost-effective to sacrifice employees rather than invest in safe equipment:  The following is from The Scientific American; June 6, 1896; page 359.  Those who yearn for a free market unfettered by regulation have a short memory and a rosy, romantic view of corporate responsibility in the face of lower cost.

Compulsory Introduction of Coupling Devices.  Sixteen thousand railroad employees were killed in the discharge of their duties in the seven years from 1888 to 1894.  The awful record of the killed and injured seems incredible.  During those seven years the exact figures are 16,257 killed and 172,180 crippled, maimed and injured.  Few battles in history show so ghastly a fatality.

This slaughter of American workmen is about ended, says the Evening Telegram.  A national law, the expression of the Congress of the United States, has called a halt to the heartlessness or heedlessness of railroad companies, and it has been decreed that an army of men shall no longer be offered up as an annual sacrifice to corporate greed.

I am optimistic for even though the railroad industry had a powerful lobby and raised all sorts of fuss regarding free enterprise and dire threats to capitalism, in the end compassion won the day.

Also today the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was dedicated in Washington DC.  It is very significant who a society chooses to honor.  Dr. King who fought lovingly for social and economic justice has a memorial on the National Mall not far from the Lincoln Memorial.  This means to me that America is guided by conscience.  Lags in the social conscience are really understandable and quite natural stages in the process of human perception.  Issues seen as properly framed in American values by transformative leaders and the pace of events will eventually win out in the end.  America has never finally cast its fate with the forces of darkness and I believe never will.