Self Regulation in 1819
Labeling poison as, well, poison, might strike you as an obvious social good. That wasn’t always so obvious as the selection below indicates –
Stratmann’s portrait of the age of arsenic (by far the most frequently used poison) is more than a string of grisly tales, and more relevant to our age than you might think. Two hundred years ago, lethal substances were readily available in a way that now seems utterly perverse. Arsenic was used widely in medicine, agriculture, industry and the home. It was employed to dip sheep, kill rats, anoint fly papers, and could be purchased in powdered form from grocers, no questions asked. In 1819 a bill was introduced that would have made the labelling of deadly poisons compulsory, but it was opposed by the Society of Chemists and Druggists as potentially damaging to their business. It never passed.
Has it always been this way and will it always be this way? Every attempt to do the most obvious necessary thing that might conceivably cost a business man money will be opposed by trade organizations, corporations, chambers of commerce and laissez faire conservative of all stripes regardless?
Yes, the dollar always has a constituency and never lacks for friends. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence of wrong, the dollar will still scream out in pain and let us all know of its suffering.
But we have a responsibility too. The dollar has friends but so does humanity. Humankind is not always valued as much as money but should be and if money always has friends the some brave souls will have to volunteer to stand up for all of us and sometimes the least of us.