Grain Elevator Deaths: Whose Ox is Being Gored?

NPR reports today on the dangerous conditions for workers in grain elevators. Rural farmers whose sons have died in accidents want stronger enforcement of occupational health and safety laws. I couldn’t agree more. I wonder, though, how many of them claim to desire the type of “small government” and unregulated free market called for by today’s Republican Party and its radical libertarians?

For decades now, business owners have fought to reduce the regulatory power of government, pursuing their economic interests under the cover of Right-wing populist rhetoric attacking government categorically. Think of Ronald Reagan’s iconic claim that government wasn’t the solution to our problems – government was the problem.

For a 14 year-old boy sent to shovel out a grain elevator without proper training or safety equipment, government was not the problem – government was the force that could have saved his life.

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