Get The Lead Out

Blog 1030 – 06.21.2018

Get The Lead Out

Get The Lead Out

I have been pretty quick in times past to judge and condemn companies and especially owners who made millions and billions mining, refining, producing, and marketing products that were sooner or later found to be harmful and even deadly in some cases to buyers, users, and clients.

The list is long and exhaustive. Here

are but a few:

Tobacco

Alcohol

Opioids

Lead

Polluting fossil fuels

Asbestos

As my title today implies I mean to write about lead. I happened recently to draw a work assignment in my travels as a contract utility inspector watching construction crews installing natural gas mains in the lovely little town of Platteville, Wisconsin. In this little college town, home of UW Platteville, there has long been a mining school and at the top of the hill on Main Street there is a mining museum that sits above an old abandoned mine where lead was first discovered in the area. The mine drew miners and workers and over time the town grew up around the mine.

I found this sign (pictured) across the back street of the museum that detailed rather quietly a little of the mine and the town’s entwined history. I was struck by what once people were quite proud of but now that we know how deadly and mentally debilitating lead exposure can be, are not so proud. The sign was not a very well announced footnote to the riches were gained and all the people exposed to this danger over the years. None of the signage to the mine and museum accept this small one, actually not on the property, even mentions the word lead. It reminds me how some years ago the word “sugar” fell out favor, some even considering it poison, to such a degree that my boyhood favorite breakfast cereals Sugar Frosted Flakes, Sugar Smacks, and Sugar Pops became Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks, and Honey Pops though I am pretty sure they are all three still full of sweet sugar, and little if any honey. It costs more than sugar.

The same day that I saw the pictured sign I found on the ground nearby a shiny mineral deposit (also pictured). I looked it up online and it appears to be very much like the lead ore found there almost two hundred years ago. Lead was once used to make a favorite children’s toy, lead and tin toy soldiers painted with lead paint. These toys were but one of many products made from this low cost and easily mailable metal, same as baby clothes were once made of asbestos, who would not want their baby’s clothing to be fireproof. Cheap and inexpensive only equates to “miracle products”, for salesman wishing to maximize their commissions, and the sales of the products they represent – even more reprehensible to me is when even after it is known the product is unsafe or harmful, the slowness with which the profiteers admit and remove those products. This is I think one of the great shames of capitalism in this or any century. I do not believe in Karma or Evil as a principle but if I did I am afraid it’s name would be “Profit at any price.” I do not begrudge any one a fair profit or seeking a bargain price on a reliable harm free product or service. The poet has said, “When you know better, do better.” And when admitting and correcting our mistakes we should, “Get the lead out.”

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White

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