We got so good at killing them and making money off of it we almost ruined them and everything forever

We got so good at killing them and making money off of it we almost ruined them and everything forever

In June of this year a 39 year old man named Steven Dierkes died after falling into a crucible of molten iron. It was just his ninth day on the job at the Caterpillar plant in Mapleton, Illinois. Caterpillar is one of the largest construction equipment manufacturers in the world with revenue of around $50 billion a year although apparently that's not enough for them to have installed the proper safety guards at the plant according to an investigation by OSHA. For failing to adequately provide for the safety of their workers and for the value of this human being's life the company is being fined a proposed $145,027. (This was the second worker to die at this particular foundry within a year after another fell to his death in December.)

Dierkes "was a hard-working teddy bear of a man with calloused hands and a tender heart," his obituary said.

$145,027. I am not sure why they threw in that extra $27 on the top there. Maybe it's like when you get your hospital bill and it's $706.37 for (1) ibuprofen and they're bargaining that making the price so specific to the decimal point will trick us into thinking there must be some serious number crunching behind it instead of bullshitting and vapor. How a child thinks they're getting one over on you.

At least 31 children were found to be working in the employ of Packers Sanitation Services Inc. in Nebraska and Minnesota. Packers is one of the largest food sanitation companies in the country with 17,000 employees servicing around 700 plants. The Department of Labor has asked a federal court to issue a restraining order against the illegal employment practices in which the children – including one as young as 13 who suffered chemical burns – labor over night in grueling and dangerous conditions. The children's duties include sterilizing killing floors and cleaning bone saws and grinding machines with caustic chemicals.

"One 14-year-old, who worked from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. five to six days a week, suffered injuries from chemical burns from cleaning machines used to cut meat. School records showed that the student fell asleep in class or missed class because of the job at the plant," according to the New York Times.

You may not be surprised to hear the children workers they interviewed were not fluent in English. The government has also accused Packers of intimidating the kids not to cooperate with the investigation.  

Among many other injuries and deaths over the years Packers was cited by the government in 2019 for a nitrogen leak that killed six workers at a poultry plant in Georgia according to this report on the company. It has been owned by Blackstone – a firm with almost $100 billion in assets – since 2018.

The metaphor of blood-sucking companies like Blackstone picking a company like this clean down to the bone is too obvious not to mention.

"Blackstone and Leonard Green/ AlpInvest extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from PSSI through transactions known as dividend recapitalizations, in which the private equity firms added debt to Packers Sanitation’s balance sheet in order to collect dividends for themselves," the report noted.

Those money hoarding fucks aren't going to be able to suck out every last nickel of the workers' labor without cutting every corner so you can probably guess what type of people they employ at Packers as well: Those with a criminal record or newly arrived immigrants and others who are less likely to feel comfortable standing up to an employer who exposes them to injury or death for fear of losing the only job they can find.

Some related reading from a previous Hell World:

It never felt right, but it was my only option
The U.S. has some of the weakest labor protections for temp workers in the developed world

Do you ever wonder how people live with themselves? The executives and bosses at companies like these and our politicians who enable them to name a few examples. I can barely live with myself and I'm just some fucking guy.

I can't sleep at night for all the evil that other people do so how do they themselves manage to rest?

I have therapy in a couple hours so I've been rehearsing some material in my brain this morning trying to come up with some of my little clever observations and epiphanies as one does so that we'll have something new to talk about and to avoid the singular thing I am sick of talking about. Actually I don't know if that is something people do do they? Prep to try to avoid having to belabor the same shit from the week before and the week before that. So as to not have to admit that actually nothing has changed I'm still just the same asshole from last time over here. It's so embarrassing to me to do that. Like showing up to visit a friend's house with the same vase of flowers every week but they wilt a little more each time until they're smelling foul and dead.

Or maybe it's your cat dropping the same  gradually decomposing mouse at your feet over and over again forever.

Worse than either of those things because you're paying to do it.

I don't know if it means anything but I keep thinking this sentence: I suffer no injury that I have not done to myself.

Then I think how lucky I am that that is true. A sort of gratitude that no one else is conspiring to harm me. That self-annihilation is a luxurious problem to have compared to how so many others suffer.

Although I suppose when it is someone else trying to injure you you can at least run away from them or manage to hide for a brief respite.

Here's some cool shit.

Down below are two stories that I had to cut from the forthcoming book at the last minute for space but I still like them and think you will like them too. You'll have to be a paid-subscriber to keep reading though.

A few of you have taken me up on this deal so I'll offer it again: Subscribe for the full yearly price and I'll send you a copy of one of my books to sweeten the deal. Reply to the email to let me know if you want in on that.

“Like Denis Johnson, Luke O’Neil writes with such vivid urgency that it can be physically uncomfortable to read, but the stories in A Creature Wanting Form are rendered with a lyricism that seems to be in awe of the world even as they describe its greatest pains and profound injustices. Unforgettable, original, and a more than worthy extension of the far far-reaching and hard-won empathy which characterizes the brilliant Hell World.” -Megan Nolan, author of Acts of Desperation

Real quick before we hit the paywall below check out this New York Times Dealbook Summit event! Nightmare blunt rotation.

It costs a mere $2,499 to attend but how much would you have to be paid yourself to actually go sit through this dog shit?

I suppose I would do it for... $2,499. That's kind of a lot of money to just go sit somewhere to be honest. NYT hit me up if you want to sort that out.

I wonder if Sam Bankman-Fried is going to show up?

Ok read the rest of today's piece below with a subscription. See ya.

Take my picture

Indigenous people in Alaska and other northern regions have been hunting whales for thousands of years which sounds almost impossible doesn’t it. I can barely reconcile the fact that whales even exist today never mind think about seeing one hundreds or thousands of years ago and saying to myself I am going to eat that. I can’t boil rice without my wife having to come in from the other room frowning.

Have you ever been on a whale watching trip and you go out in the little sad boat the guy owns and you sit there for a while like this blows and then you finally at long last see a whale and you’re like holy shit are you seeing this shit? Your entire life changes right there next to some guy from Arizona.

Holy fucking shit.