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Response to hue (Original post)

Mon Jan 23, 2012, 04:50 PM

4. Interesting reading, thanks for posting.

I also posted this response in the "Wisconsin" forum, then remembered that was the courtesy copy,
not the original. Anyway....

Thanks for posting:

I remember being shocked -- no, seriously, I *was* shocked -- at some of
the people who showed up to testify in favor of the Payday Loan industry,
not that long ago., here in Wisconsin.

State legislators were holding hearings all around town. (It was a completely
different fight.) Some of the folks testifying on behalf of the Payday Loan stores
looked like they'd been let out of jail that morning. The people herding
and directing them looked pretty slick.

This is apparently a much more high-stakes game than the simple
extraction of excessive fees and charges from the lowest-of-low-credit
borrowers. But overall, in the bigger picture of things, skimming off a
little bit here and there from any large group of people -- so a fat wad can
be turned over to a private contractor, or a mine owner, or some other
corporate tool -- after a while it all starts to look and smell the same.

Great little detail from your post:

We already have proof Walker is replacing state workers with prison labor when we saw inmates decorating the Capitol Christmas tree, and currently there is an investigation into other businesses who are making deals to use prison labor for $2 an hour, one I cannot yet comment on. But stay tuned as we discover if any of that $2 is even going to the prisoners who are replacing union workers.

If anyone is interested, here is the "villain" of your piece: Todd J. Rongstad:



...former legislative aide, lobbyist, and political hitman. He is now an artist, writer, filmmaker, business-owner, scholar and graduate of UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts Film/Video/New Genres and Masters in Liberal Studies Programs.

(A Master in Liberal Studies! He must know all of us only too well.)

Here are his favorite books:



  • I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease, and General Misadventure, As Related in Popular Song, by Graeme Thomson

  • White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery And Vengeneance in Colonial America, by
    Brumwell, Stephen

  • Columbine, by Cullen, Dave

  • The Third Reich at War, 1939-1945

  • Arguably, Selected Essays, by Christopher Hitchens

(That's by no means a representative list, there are quite a few more titles. I picked
a few that particularly caught my eye which may not be entirely fair.)

So to balance out the scale, here's a GREAT read. Link to the Project Gutenberg
(FREE online text file version) of Upton Sinclair's "King Coal." Written a couple of years
after the Ludlow (CO) Massacre, the largest and bloodiest conflict in the history of
the American labor movement, it's actually a bit more "optimistic" than "The Jungle"
or "Oil."


But it's the same damned story. Nobody really cares or bothers or pays much attention
to a whole lot of small people, all being cheated equally, when the big fat wads of profit
that are generated from so many small larcenies are all kept conveniently out of sight
and out of mind.

It's worth at least forty minutes or an hour's time to get an idea of how much things have
changed, and how in so many other ways -- they haven't.

Here's a small sample:

"...A miner's life depended upon the proper timbering of the room where he
worked. The company undertook to furnish the timbers, but when the miner
needed them, he would find none at hand, and would have to make the
mile-long trip to the surface. He would select timbers of the proper
length, and would mark them--the understanding being that they were to
be delivered to his room by some of the labourers. But then some one
else would carry them off--here was more graft and favouritism, and the
miner might lose a day or two of work, while meantime his account was
piling up at the store, and his children might have no shoes to go to
school. Sometimes he would give up waiting for timbers, and go on taking
out coal; so there would be a fall of rock--and the coroner's jury would
bring in a verdict of "negligence," and the coal-operators would talk
solemnly about the impossibility of teaching caution to miners. Not so
very long ago Hal had read an interview which the president of the
General Fuel Company had given to a newspaper, in which he set forth the
idea that the more experience a miner had the more dangerous it was to
employ him, because he thought he knew it all, and would not heed the
wise regulations which the company laid down for his safety!

...In Number Two mine a man was caught in this way. He stumbled as he ran,
and the lower half of his body was pinned fast; the doctor had to come
and pump opiates into him, while the rescue crew was digging him loose.
The first Hal knew of the accident was when he saw the body stretched
out on a plank, with a couple of old sacks to cover it. He noticed that
nobody stopped for a second glance. Going up from work, he asked his
friend Madvik, the mule driver, who answered, "Lit'uanian feller--got
mash." And that was all. Nobody knew him, and nobody cared about him...

,,,Hal asked what they would do with the body; the answer was they would
bury him in the morning. The company had a piece of ground up the

"But won't they have an inquest?" he inquired.

"Inques'?" repeated the other. "What's he?"

"Doesn't the coroner see the body?"

The old Slovak shrugged his bowed shoulders; if there was a coroner in
this part of the world, he had never heard of it; and he had worked in a
good many mines, and seen a good many men put under the ground. "Put him
in a box and dig a hole," was the way he described the procedure.

"And doesn't the priest come?"

"Priest too far away."

Afterwards Hal made inquiry among the English-speaking men, and learned
that the coroner did sometimes come to the camp. He would empanel a jury
consisting of Jeff Cotton, the marshal, and Predovich, the Galician who
worked in the company store, and a clerk or two from the company's
office, and a couple of Mexican labourers who had no idea what it was
all about. This jury would view the corpse, and ask a couple of men what
had happened, and then bring in a verdict: "We find that the deceased
met his death from a fall of rock caused by his own fault." (In one case
they had added the picturesque detail: "No relatives, and damned few

For this service the coroner got a fee, and the company got an official
verdict, which would be final in case some foreign consul should
threaten a damage suit...."

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