Senator Dick Durbin gave a good speech in the capitol the other day. He said the underfunded “trust fund” for asbestos victims, proposed by some lawmakers, would end up as a corporate bailout at the expense of taxpayers and victims.
Durbin pointed out that as early as 1934, some of the companies that were making products out of asbestos came to realize there was a danger, that some of the employees working around this asbestos ended up developing lung problems and some of them were fatal. Yes! Some people on Capitol Hill get it. The asbestos industry wasn’t ignorant. They knew full well asbestos killed people and they went ahead anyway.
Writing in The New Republic blog, Michael Crowley says asbestos is not mind-numbingly boring. Its good to know some political reporters appreciate this issue, although as Crowley points out, the media has largely ignored it, probably because it is so complicated.
Sen. Harry Reid was quoted as saying he “can’t stand this legislation“. The bill has been co-sponsored by Arlen Spector (Republican) and Patrick Leahy (Democrat). It will be interesting to see what happens and the political reporters are saying it is too close to call at this point.
The public health blog Effect Measure has a post on the difference in asbestos use between the developed countries and the developing countries. Apparently, in the 1980s the Canadian government actively sought new markets for asbestos in the face of declining use in the US and Europe. Of course, the reason for the declining use was that people knew asbestos was toxic. (Asbestos has been known to be a health hazard for decades.) And yet the Canadian government took it upon itself to try to get Third World people to use this hazardous stuff. Wonderful.