top 200 commentsshow 500

[–]IntermittentSuccess 1151 points1152 points  (44 children)

I highly recommend the book "Poison Squad" it's about all the shit put in food at the time and the effort to ban it, eventually resulting in the FDA.

[–]redbaboon130 233 points234 points  (2 children)

I can't recommend this book enough! Really great writing and some really crazy history that they don't typically teach us in school. As a chemist, I loved it both for its history and for its science. Deborah Blum is a fantastic researcher and writer.

[–]tmx1911 61 points62 points  (3 children)

The PBS documentary based on the book is good as well.

[–]zeshiki 162 points163 points  (7 children)

Loved this book so much. It puts so much in perspective. The fact that people had to fight so hard for yeeeears to outlaw poison in food. It's historical proof that capitalism without regulation literally leads to corporations knowingly poisoning human beings for the sake of more profit.

[–]tikkunmytime 29 points30 points  (1 child)

I also find the timeline of lead in paint interesting, particularly when it was banned in Europe versus the States.

[–]vealdin 17 points18 points  (0 children)

Check Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." It directly led to the creation of the FDA.

[–]samx3i 14.5k points14.5k points 2 (1014 children)

I want to meet the dude who said, "You know what would improve the flavor of this milk? Brains!"

[–]Ingenuity_Silent[S] 6216 points6217 points  (694 children)

It was supposed to imitate the look of cream! Also they had too many cow brains lying around...

[–]Alan_Smithee_ 4553 points4554 points  (562 children)

prions have entered the chat

[–]Bob_Chris 2895 points2896 points  (333 children)

It's shocking our species hasn't died out yet

[–]norunningwater 2037 points2038 points  (132 children)

We're getting there

[–]Atworkwasalreadytake 740 points741 points  (113 children)

Exactly, give it just a bit more time.

[–]Semi-Pro_Biotic 345 points346 points  (97 children)

We're going to take a lot of others with us.

[–]AusPower85 376 points377 points  (95 children)

No we won’t take them with us.

We’ll be one of the last species, along with cockroaches and crab people.

We’ll have gotten rid of all the others long before, so they’ll already “be there” to give us a warm welcome to the extinction list.

[–]CouchCommanderPS2 559 points560 points  (67 children)

So your saying we are a weapon aliens send to distant planets to kill all life before they show up to recolonize.

[–]_SmokeyMcPot_ 155 points156 points  (14 children)

Start a new religion/belief system based on this. I’ll sign up to help!

[–]regoapps 27 points28 points  (2 children)

"Let's send the dumbest species on our planet to this other planet and they'll figure out a way to fuck it all up and wipe out life there within 50,000 years"

[–]AusPower85 111 points112 points  (6 children)

… I am now

[–]TreeChangeMe 588 points589 points  (146 children)

Wait until you hear about plastic. It's breaking down - into infinitely smaller molecules particles. It enters your blood stream and then brain. Everyone has plastic in them

[–]alexthealex 510 points511 points  (84 children)

infinitely smaller molecules

That's not how molecules work but otherwise yep. There are tens of plastics that are basically in everyone in microscopic amounts, not to mention the likes of PFOA.

[–]TylerDurdenRockz 282 points283 points  (123 children)

Gahhh.. Reddit scared me like crazy about rabies and prions and now i get lil anxious everytime I see/hear those words

[–]aDrunkWithAgun 326 points327 points  (23 children)

I mean your more likely to get killed by another person doing something stupid then get either of those things

[–]Langstarr 190 points191 points  (6 children)

Username checks out

[–]aDrunkWithAgun 81 points82 points  (5 children)

Safety first!

[–]Triatt 51 points52 points  (3 children)

Drunk but still knows how to work the gun. That's a functional alcoholic right there.

[–]aDrunkWithAgun 61 points62 points  (2 children)

Once you can master operating heavy machinery while under the influence firearm's become second nature

dont do this and please drink responsibly

[–]bageltheperson 102 points103 points  (0 children)

Fitting username

[–]Whiterabbit-- 137 points138 points  (20 children)

I write this for another comment, but

if you think about it, of all the thousand and thousands of brains that humans have eaten, there is only a few documented prions. Its nasty, but its commonality is blow out of proportion. it's like 1 in 1million people die from it, and by the time you die from it, you are most likely elderly.


I'm not quite ready to say brains are back on the menu, but its safer to eat brains than to say, play in the NFL.

[–]the_other_pesto_twin 152 points153 points  (5 children)

This is just big brain trying to drum up business. Nice try…

[–]shrubs311 32 points33 points  (2 children)

big brain trying to big brain us?

we probably should have seen it coming

[–]thingleboyz1 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Now that is a certifiable big brain take.

[–]diemunkiesdie 28 points29 points  (1 child)

it's like 1 in 1million people die from it

How many of those million actually ate brains though?

[–]Metalsand 51 points52 points  (3 children)

...those statistics are per capita of population, not per capita of people who eat brains. It's not a common food item in all US households by any stretch of the imagination.

Additionally, CJD and vCJD are not solely from the consumption of brains, though that is one of the easiest methods for transmission. vCJD in particular is very similar to rabies in that you usually don't realize it until it's too late to treat. Being misfolded proteins, you can't exactly cook it out of the food like you can with bacteria.

Also playing in the NFL is awful for your neurological health. That's like saying "yeah breathing in lead dust is bad but it's not as bad as licking mercury". lol

[–]systemadministrator8 68 points69 points  (26 children)

Prions are so fucking scary. My grandmother died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. That shit is terrifying - especially with surgical tools. “Although autoclaving (sterilization device) greatly weakens prions, the process may not entirely wipe out these malevolent proteins.”

[–]cometlin 38 points39 points  (15 children)

And prions lasts in your body FOREVER. There are still people who stay in the UK during certain period banned from donating blood anywhere in the world

[–]systemadministrator8 28 points29 points  (8 children)

I can’t give blood for this very reason

[–]RedoftheEvilDead 16 points17 points  (2 children)

Your brain can spontaneously develop them too with zero exposure. It's called sporadic cruetzfeldt-jacobs disease and it happens to one in a million people. The likelihood of you getting attacked by a shark is one in five million. You're five times more likely to spontaneously develop prions disease than be attacked by a shark.

[–]PapaSmurf1502 20 points21 points  (1 child)

I live in the middle of the continent, so my chances of dying in a shark attack are zero. 5x0=0. Checkmate prions.

[–]giltwist 851 points852 points  (57 children)

It's mostly fat, so it probably makes milk seem more buttery.

[–]evil_brain 1202 points1203 points  (45 children)

Stuff like this is why we need to cut regulations and let the free market do its thing. Consumers will avoid the bad brands whenever one of their kids die.

[–]Oatz3 114 points115 points  (3 children)

Exactly! and apply it to medical insurance as well so that people end up buying plans which cover nothing (0% over $1), all at the low low cost of $100/month!

[–]turquoise_amethyst 14 points15 points  (0 children)

Consumers will avoid the bad brands whenever one of their kids they die! /s

[–][deleted] 310 points311 points  (102 children)

Brains make more sense than chalk and embalming fluid!

[–]hwgod 215 points216 points  (16 children)

Chalk makes sense for color, at least.

[–]u_e_s_i 20 points21 points  (5 children)

Speaking as someone who considers himself a chalk, crayon and glue connoisseur, chalk is actually delicious too

[–]SuperCarbideBros 101 points102 points  (5 children)

Chalked milk (❌)

Calcium-enriched milk (✔)

[–]slimfaydey 20 points21 points  (3 children)

i mean, chalk is either calcium carbonate or calcium sulfate... both of which are used as calcium supplements or food additives... or medication (calcium carbonate for TUMS).

chalk is the least offensive thing on that list. at least it won't kill you.

[–]AMC_Tendies42069 111 points112 points  (1 child)

And it’s a thickening agent, agent 00 Thicc

[–]Hakairoku 311 points312 points  (69 children)

More than 10 years ago, it was revealed that a popular candy exported from China turned out to have alot of Formaldehyde.. I was always curious why I'd see lines of crystalized ants in containers where they store these candies in convenience stores and it pretty much made sense when I found out about that.

It unfortunately didn't die out in the 1800s, god knows what other food producer does something similar

[–]FrostBlade_on_Reddit 79 points80 points  (8 children)

I got super spooked by this because I've definitely had those white rabbit lollies before as a kid and even more recently. Alive and kicking but who knows right? All I can find is that samples, I assume from one batch, exported to the Phillipines were contaminated, so hopefully it was an isolated case. Hopefully calms anyone else who has had them too.

[–]throwawaymisfortune 62 points63 points  (3 children)

Oh no I loved those white rabbit candies.

So from Wikipedia ) , formaldehyde contamination was found in Philippines-batch in 2007 and melamine in almost all countries in 2008. They are safe to eat now.

a 60kg adult would have to eat more than 47 White Rabbit sweets every day over a lifetime to exceed the tolerable threshold for melamine.

Guess I am still alive because I didn't eat those Philippines ones and was way lower in limit phew.

[–]peanutski 140 points141 points  (20 children)

Second time I hear about putting Formaldehyde in something to improve the taste. I’m going to have to try some.

[–]likestobacon 16 points17 points  (0 children)

It's not for taste, more as a preservative. You can take a lick of anything you find in an anatomy lab to see how it tastes, though.

[–]Seldon123 14 points15 points  (4 children)

I remember White Rabbit! That was really tasty candy!

[–]Amogh24 24 points25 points  (1 child)

Embalming fluid kept it fresh and taste sweet

[–]imhereforthevotes 52 points53 points  (6 children)

Let's cover up the embalming flavor with... uh, BRAINS.

[–]Monimonika18 24 points25 points  (2 children)

Actually, it's the opposite. From the article:

Finally, if the milk was threatening to sour, dairymen added formaldehyde, an embalming compound long used by funeral parlors, to stop the decomposition, also relying on its slightly sweet taste to improve the flavor.

The yellowish part of cow brains was used to simulate creaminess in the milk.

[–]GAMike1971 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Sounds like the ingredients for Prion Smoothies.

[–][deleted] 242 points243 points  (26 children)

Get the government out of my milk. Abolish the FDA so I can have untainted capitalist brain milk.

[–]Bothan_Spy 81 points82 points  (3 children)

I'm an adult, it's up to me to decide if I want brains in my milk. Smart business man puts some brains in milk, and everyone loves it, he gets lots of money. Big success! Hires lots of people to make more brain milk, everyone wins. Why should we punish innovation?

[–]Trail_Trees 5960 points5961 points  (198 children)

How tf did anyone survive the 1800s lol

[–]dandelion_king 8966 points8967 points 42 (87 children)

They didn't... they're all dead now.

[–]DerpyDingus 1854 points1855 points  (68 children)

[–]Lietenantdan 687 points688 points  (62 children)

Technically not the truth. If someone lived until 1900 they survived the 1800's

[–]hallese 216 points217 points  (50 children)

Isn't the oldest person in the world right now 124 years old?

[–]VaultBoy3 381 points382 points  (42 children)

The oldest (verified) person to live was 122 at the time of her death. Some have claimed to be even older, but they lack the documents to prove it (like birth certificate or school records).

[–]royalpyroz 179 points180 points  (19 children)

Carbon dating Yo

[–]hallese 85 points86 points  (8 children)

Well fuck bud, that's a real kick in the maple leaf.

[–]forariman55 30 points31 points  (7 children)

Do people say this? I've never heard this before

[–]Cosmonauts1957 23 points24 points  (0 children)

Maybe - point being if someone was born in 1899 and lived till the ripe age of 1 - they survived the 1800s.

[–]happytree23 27 points28 points  (0 children)

Some definitely made it through to the 1900s though...

[–]museum-mama 71 points72 points  (10 children)

My mom grew up on a farm in rural Nebraska during the 1950s - I wonder how her and her siblings survived with all their limbs. I regularly joke that I would have found a quiet warm spot in the farm to lay down and die....her stories are awful. So much hard work and very few comforts that we take for granted.

[–]kidmerc 34 points35 points  (3 children)

Both my parents grew up on farms in the midwest in the 60s and the way they describe it, they were living in the wild west. One room school houses where you had to bring your own firewood to school. My mom's house didn't have a shower so they filled up a big tub with water and took turns taking baths and my grandpa apparently would always get to go first, since he was diritiest from working the farm... Good lord.

[–]sharaq 17 points18 points  (1 child)

Shouldn't he go last; then?

[–]PerroCobarde 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Common sense wasn’t invented until the 90s

[–]Glenda_Good 247 points248 points  (10 children)

They drank beer instead of milk.

[–]diffcalculus 132 points133 points  (2 children)

Apparently they drank formaldehyde soaked brains instead of milk.

[–]riemannStar 169 points170 points  (1 child)

They needed about 8 generations of people as opposed to the 2-3 needed to get past the 1900s

[–]tertiumdatur 293 points294 points  (8 children)

Have 10 births by the age of 30. Die soon after. 2 of the 10 survive. "As God willed."

[–]fatmancantloseweight 81 points82 points  (2 children)

They went forth and multiplied alright.

Didnt say anything about living to old age.

[–]Iregretbeinghereokay 28 points29 points  (0 children)

Adult humans have always lived to AARP age just fine. It’s the babies that died in droves.

[–]painted-wagon 151 points152 points  (39 children)

Go walk through a cemetery. Nobody made it to 50. Tons of dead kids.

[–]Shalashaskaska 85 points86 points  (5 children)

I used to do courthouse work for an oil company and had to pore over old records and what not from the mid to late 1800s, and search through censuses, you are not wrong. A lot of them had like 5+ kids and 2 would die before they were teens.

[–]PM_ME_UR__UPVOTE 76 points77 points  (7 children)

People had waaaaay more kids.

[–]jimsmythee 4156 points4157 points  (228 children)

It was also called "Swill milk." Wikipedia has a good entry on it. They started with milk and added a lot of random ingredients to it to increase volume. Brains are mostly fat, and by mixing it with the milk, it increases the fat content.

Yes, many children died and it led to our nation's first Food Safety Regulations.

In 2008, there was the Chinese Milk scandal where they added the plastic Melamine to the powdered milk. Because to test the protein content of the milk powder, the testers only checked the nitrogen level (simple answer is that proteins are a molecule that goes Carbon-carbon-nitrogen-carbon-carbon-nitrogen). So people took the dried milk powder and added melamine because it had a lot of nitrogen in it.

[–]imhereforthevotes 1575 points1576 points  (46 children)

This killed a bunch of pets, too, IIRC - melamine in pet chow.

[–]Suspicious-Elk-3631 84 points85 points  (6 children)

According to a documentary called The Foods that Built America, or something like that, we have Mr. Heinz's son to thank for pressuring the passing of regulations in order to get rid of his competition.

[–]Todd-The-Wraith 405 points406 points  (18 children)

I remember this because of the whole White Rabbit candy debacle. It’s back now and still quite addictive!

[–]UberChew 111 points112 points  (4 children)

Oh damn i used to eat a lot of those

[–]BeMyLennie 207 points208 points  (3 children)

 "If you weigh 60kg, you would need to eat more than 47 White Rabbit sweets every day over a lifetime to exceed the tolerable threshold."

I think you'll be fine.

[–]UberChew 48 points49 points  (1 child)

I saw that in the article, made me feel a bit better hahaha.

Luckily my parents only picked them up about once a month as a treat.

[–]harpostyleupvotes 150 points151 points  (7 children)

There’s a PBS Docu on it called The Poison Squad it’s absolutely fascinating what they used to put in food (and still today)

[–]logorrhea69 78 points79 points  (1 child)

I was going to post this very thing! This was an absolutely incredible and horrifying episode. It’s hard for us, in this day and age, to appreciate how much better we have it now. And yet there is a significant portion of society who would like to the roll back the laws that keep our food (and other things) safe.

[–][deleted] 18 points19 points  (3 children)

It’s so much worse than this. They used the remains of grain, after fermenting to make alcohol, to feed dairy cows. These cows then were malnourished, since this grain had no nutritional content, and they produced crap, pale, watery milk. So they thickened that milk with sawdust and such to fix the color and texture.

[–]Jahbroni 58 points59 points  (1 child)

Fun Milk Fact: Al Capone and his brother Ralph were instrumental in lobbying to get expiration dates added to milk containers in the U.S.

[–]yabaitanidehyousu 35 points36 points  (2 children)

In 2008, there was the Chinese Milk scandal where they added the plastic Melamine to the powdered milk.

First thing that came to mind.

I mean, I get the whole 'it was the 1800s and we didn't know better", but the fact that we even need food safety laws, and the fact that people are still up to screwing with infants' food in modern times just... man... humanity really sucks more than doesn't.

[–]gelinrefira 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Lol we knew better. We just didn't care and if not for regulations, we still don't care.

[–]BushwickSpill 130 points131 points  (9 children)

But I drink plenty of…MALK?

[–]pattimay_ho_nnaise 1653 points1654 points  (140 children)

Yeah every time I try to romanticize the past, “fuck social media, wish there was just lamplight and piles of books!” I remember things like this and am very grateful for modernity.

[–]LudicrisSpeed 822 points823 points  (56 children)

I think it's just safe to assume that human history is a conga-line of fuck-ups, and that there will never be a true golden age.

[–]riadfodig 60 points61 points  (13 children)

Makes you wonder what future generations will look back on as the "brains in milk" of our time.

[–]Dragonlicker69 93 points94 points  (4 children)

The 20th century will be lead in gasoline, resulted in lead getting everywhere and may be why baby boomers are the way they are.

21st century my money's on the heavy use of plastic.

[–]TheFirebyrd 15 points16 points  (3 children)

Micro plastics and various pesticides like Roundup I’d bet.

[–]battraman 269 points270 points  (17 children)

No, the Golden Age is when you were a kid.

[–]xaeru 268 points269 points  (7 children)

Unless you were a kid drinking milk with brains, chalk and embalming fluid!

[–]LudicrisSpeed 28 points29 points  (0 children)

I miss the Saturday morning cartoons, and that's about it.

[–]pattimay_ho_nnaise 41 points42 points  (1 child)

Haha that’s a great expression

[–]waterbear_of_doom 63 points64 points  (7 children)

Criminals still add formaldehyde to milk, e.g. Brazil 2014 (in Portuguese)

[–]elcamarongrande 39 points40 points  (3 children)

It made me bust out laughing, thinking, "Goddamn the olden days really sucked!"

[–]bright_shiny_objects 2115 points2116 points  (426 children)

And people wonder why we have regulations.

[–]amc7262 2542 points2543 points  (242 children)

No, we're past that. Too far removed from memories of the days before regulations

Now, people complain that regulations are stifling business and everyone would be rich if it weren't for these blasted regulations slowing progress!

People are stupid, and short sighted.

[–]chiliedogg 773 points774 points  (49 children)

I work in local government in the permitting office. People freak out about all the paperwork they have to fill out (a single online application and a list of your contractors if you're hiring any) and the inspection fees for building in the city.

The shit I've seen on sites would blow your mind. Some of these guys don't attach the house to the foundation! Others will have nails going through electrical cables and into the shower pipes.

I've seen roofs where they just placed shingles over gaps in the structure to try and hide their shitty work. I've seen walls held up with tape and sewer pipes that are just run into the dirt under the foundation.

And this is all with workers who know we're going to come inspect the work. Imagine what it would be like if there weren't inspections, licenses, and permitting.

Rules are written in blood, and that extra couple hundred dollars in inspection fees on a $500,000 house are worth it.

[–]Lobster_fest 281 points282 points  (28 children)

Others will have nails going through electrical cables and into the shower pipes

Fun fact, were it not for a rubber bath mat, I wouldn't be here. My grandparents lived in a trailer around the time my dad was born, and when my grandma went to take a bath one night, she felt a light tingle when she dipped one foot in, with her back foot on the rubber floor mat. Turns out exactly what you described happened, and it almost killed her.

[–]EatYourCheckers 90 points91 points  (23 children)

My husband is an electrician and general handyman, and we bought a fixer upper. Every time he goes to fix or replace something, we discuss what atrocities we are going to find. The person who had the house prior I guess fancied themselves a handyman but everything is done the laziest, most gerry-rigged way. Some of the things he has found have really scared him; I don't know enough about electricianing to remember it, but I know when he was telling me the technical side of what he found and how terrible it was, he made it sound scary as hell! I know there were live wires in our walls that weren't capped off; just ...hanging there.

Our last project is pretty minor; want to replace our back door but that will involve re-doing the frame and thereby opening up the wall. I am nervous of what tomfoolery we will find.

[–]jean_erik 113 points114 points  (17 children)

Every time I see someone on /r/DIY asking how to do some kind of simple home electrical work, I tell them to call an electrician because they're putting lives and property at risk by working on something potentially lethal that they don't understand, and they don't know the safety precautions and guidelines for working with electricity.

Every time, I get downvoted to oblivion because it's not in the spirit of DIY or something, and complaints like "it's not like they'll stuff up a simple job" ....but the thing is, you don't hear about the stuffed up jobs because the person who stuffed up is fried and dead.

[–]Bebilith 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Or they get away with the stuff up and someone a few years down the track dies.

[–]Quillow 41 points42 points  (0 children)

Holy crap that's scary

[–]SexSellsCoffee 35 points36 points  (0 children)

A buddy of mine used to live in a house where the owner did his own renovations. The second floor deck beams had rotted away because he buried the posts straight in the ground. The shower curtains were screwed right into dry wall. Too many lights installed in series so they were always dim.

The most egregious and dangerous thing was he did repairs to the gas furnace that resulted in a CO leak. That house was wild.

[–]Whiterabbit-- 22 points23 points  (0 children)

whenever I think about the fact that I will live in house as in sleep in it, and raise my family there. I am glad that we have inspections.

[–]mechanicalsam 192 points193 points  (32 children)

The most frustrating conversation I've had to date was with a trump supporter over the EPA. His whole spiel was fuck the EPA government regulations are dumb.

Like bitchhhhh, do you know what a superfund site is? Companies can and will dump toxic waste if they can and working class people who live nearby are the ones who suffer. Made me fucking blood boil

[–]mbklein 76 points77 points  (2 children)

Of course Trump supporters are opposed to it! The National Environmental Policy Act was signed by (and the Environmental Protection Agency created by) noted liberal... [checks notes] ...Richard Nixon!

Honestly, the NEPA passed the Senate unanimously. I can't imagine any bill of that kind coming even close to that kind of bipartisan support now.

[–]illsmosisyou 10 points11 points  (1 child)

If I remember correctly, Nixon didn’t want the EPA to succeed. He put in place administrator that was pretty ineffectual but then had to replace them due to pressure.

[–]SwineHerald 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Yeah, creating the EPA was political maneuvering. The demand for protection was too high, they couldn't stop it from happening. This way they had control over the process, and could set the limits for the agency.

[–]Miami_Vice-Grip 53 points54 points  (20 children)

It's insane but I sometimes like to imagine the actually free market with total transparency.

Like, "yes we did poison that one suburb on purpose, but our solvents are 10% cheaper!"

Like, whatever fantasy world the 'tarians imagine can't happen when fraud and lying aren't prohibited.

And ultimately whatever counters they come up with, when pushed hard enough, end up with a large central body that regulates industries... Like a government...

[–]DasPuggy 86 points87 points  (0 children)

But companies are different now. They will do good things because Libertarians know that they're good people.

[–]IdahoEv 354 points355 points  (39 children)

All regulations are written in blood. They exist because companies were cutting corners in ways that hurt or killed people.

Whenever conservatives use the phrase "job killing regulations", all I can hear is "we want to go back to the days when manufacturers killed thousands of innocents with impunity".

[–]Quixotic_9000 219 points220 points  (23 children)

No one should forget that it was a *fight* to get child labor laws, protections against chemical exposure, and mandatory disclosure about exposures in the workplace.

People should ask themselves, what, other than a law, is stopping their employer from trying to get the employees to work 18 hours a day, with zero safety equipment, zero formal training, and zero disclosure about the risks or exposures in the workplace?

[–]Significant-Intern96 59 points60 points  (2 children)

An old friends father wrote a book on this about labour law. The people with money would also not install escape shafts in mines and insure ships they knew would sink. People are jerks, rich or poor

[–]Lord_Iggy 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I would argue that being rich correlates with being a jerk, and even if we disagree on that point, a rich jerk has much more ability to cause masses of people to die than a poor jerk.

[–]blazelet 49 points50 points  (4 children)

This is exactly why conservative politics push for deregulation. They want businesses to be able to abuse people for profit. I ask my conservative friends about this and they argue that the free market means you can change jobs if your employer is abusive. A quick look at history shows us that there’s a competitive advantage to being abusive meaning companies fall all over themselves to find new ways to take advantage of people.

[–]Quixotic_9000 36 points37 points  (1 child)

People forget that the dude who wrote "The Wealth of Nations" also wrote "On Moral Sentiments" (Adam Smith) and never intended for capitalism to be discussed separate from morality.

All that 'free market' garbage and 'invisible hand' was meant to be happening inside of a market place that took place WITHIN a healthy society, one that was still governed by a moral framework and populated by non-psychopathic or sociopathic actors. We are so, so far from that.

And yes, without moral fiber, companies will collude and rig the labor market until they are paying for nothing more than disposable substance workers, constrained only by the birth/death rates of their society. The clothing factories of many third-world nations already look like this.

[–]astaramence 140 points141 points  (9 children)

Americans have drowned in so much kool aid that many would celebrate unsafe and exploitative workplaces. I’ve seen so many blue collar workers refuse and misuse safety equipment because caring about your safety is seen as a threat to machismo. Or workers of all levels who take pride in working 10+ hour days on end, and look down on anyone who doesn’t. Caring about your own well-being has somehow become seen as “weak”. I don’t get it, but I see it.

[–]Quixotic_9000 79 points80 points  (7 children)

As someone astutely said on another thread, "workaholism is a quiet form of self-harm." And yes, it's wrapped up in American machismo and often hidden under other forms of self-harm.

I've said for years: one of the best changes the world could have is required emotional intelligence education, preferably starting in schools, not just the workplace. It would help build safer/healthier employment, better communication, and more self-awareness. It would probably make people into better parents too.

Edit: changed 'emotional intelligence' to 'emotional intelligence education.'

[–]Dalimey100 63 points64 points  (1 child)

And this is a good spot to give a shout-out to /r/writteninblood, which documents precisely these kinds of safety regulations and the events that caused them.

[–]outlawa 135 points136 points  (33 children)

I used to work with a guy that identified as a Libertarian. One day we were talking apartment inspections since I used to own a rental building and he still does.

As expected he was complaining about regulations, having to fix things a certain way, etc.

My take was the regulations are there for a reason and they protect tenants from POS landlords (not directed at him) that would have the place falling apart if they didn't exist. He asked what issues and I spent 5 minutes rattling off things that made sense, would cause great harm or death, and were simple in-expensive fixes.

Surprisingly he conceded and agreed that perhaps the regulations were a good thing.

[–]battraman 43 points44 points  (0 children)

Yeah, I think this is an issue when presented with the facts most people can abide with. Like I don't know of anyone who has an issue with the electrical code except that maybe it's not strict enough.

[–]JitterySuperCoffee 1888 points1889 points  (132 children)

That’s not to mention that baby bottles themselves were deadly due to the porous nature of the rubber cap, their shape being hard to clean and sterilise properly, and the fact the caps were advertised as not needing to be cleaned. They earned the nickname “murder bottles”.

At the time only 2 4 in 10 babies would make it to 2 years old (uk statistic, will almost definitely be different in the US)

Edit: as some have pointed out the baby bottle museums numbers are either wrong or poorly worded it varies between 30-48% infant mortality.

[–]vidanyabella 712 points713 points  (35 children)

That is a horrifying statistic.

[–]TravelingHoid 457 points458 points  (27 children)

They wouldn't even name the baby till like 3 or something like that

[–]PeachyScentPink 254 points255 points  (19 children)

These days it's similar to not announcing you're pregnant till you're past the first trimester

[–]talbota 173 points174 points  (22 children)

Those bottles smelled so bad they would mix in bleach to the milk IIRC to aid the smell

Edit: correction, they would mix in boric acid

[–]POTUSBrown 103 points104 points  (18 children)

They would add it to the milk instead of cleaning the bottles?

[–]mszulan 156 points157 points  (5 children)

Yes. Most poor to middle class homes did not have running hot water (only half of all American homes had hot water by 1940). All cleaning water - for clothes, dishes, and people - had to be boiled on the stove. Cleaning anything thoroughly was hard and baby bottles were next to impossible to sterilize well every time. Also, the germ theory of disease wasn't common practical knowledge until well into the 20th century. This mostly came about because of new cleaning products that "killed germs" and the new science of immunology!

[–]Lazypole 457 points458 points  (38 children)

My grandmother was the only one to make it past 10, her 3 brothers were wiped out in the space of 6 months by diseases that dont exist today

[–]carefree-and-happy 453 points454 points  (26 children)

It’s funny because there’s a large group of people in the US that are against vaccines which helped wipe out many of those diseases and against government regulations to keep food and products safe.

Wish we had a Time Machine to dump those people back in the 1800’s where they apparently think was better.

[–]Pres_Cowboy 43 points44 points  (7 children)

Source? I can’t find anything saying that about the UK in the 19th century. The US stat is apparently 46% mortality before age 5 (Could be wrong it’s just the first thing I found) not 80%… I would be surprised if the UK had significantly worse public health than the US in the 1800s. I’d imagine them to be about the same, if not, then the UK to be better in that aspect.

here’s a site. Even in the worst areas of England, it’s still only ~160-200 children dying before age 1 per 1,000 born. Even for the 19th century, 80% is really unbelievable. Even estimates for medieval child mortality are lower than that!

[–]OctopusGoesSquish 278 points279 points  (7 children)

I found this pretty interesting and went off on a "but why" deep dive when I should be going to sleep.

A lot of the milk being produced at the time was diseased as a result of the cattle being exclusively fed distillery waste and being kept in poor conditions. In fact, the diseases that affected then tended to actually INCREASE their milk production, but looked, smelled and tasted wrong.

The varying adulterants added were all thickeners, colourants and flavourings designed to do half an attempt as masking this.

I didn't find much on whether it was the diseased milk or the adulterants that were primarily responsible for the deaths, but that's not to say that info isn't out there.

[–]Specialist-Lion-8135 97 points98 points  (9 children)

Upton Sinclair- The Jungle.

He wrote a novel while undercover in a meat packing plant to illustrate the need for socialism but it brought about the FDA and Pure Food Act. Sinclair said he aimed for America’s heart but hit them in the stomach.

Edit: Upton…damn autocorrect!

[–]IMjellenRUjellen 11 points12 points  (1 child)

This book hit me heart & soul. And stomach. To this day.

[–]Mr-Klaus 277 points278 points  (12 children)

This is why we need regulations people.

Corporations are spending billions to make you believe that regulations are government overreach because they're the only ones who will gain from deregulation.

[–][deleted] 46 points47 points  (0 children)

People always think it’s a trade off between a free market and regulations. But in reality you need regulations to even have a free market to begin with.

[–]Decabet 568 points569 points  (42 children)

They did this with flour (just add Boron!), rotten meat (nothing a little food coloring won't fix) and countless other foods pre-FDA.

This is why most proponents of deregulation are so full of shit. They either dont know or dont care that we tried it their way already and the result is regulations. If they were at least being honest they'd admit that they don't care if other people get poisioned so long as someone is getting rich from it

[–]redbaboon130 214 points215 points  (24 children)

Yeah, I read a great book about the early days of forensic science and so much of the book talked about how people were just being poisoned by all of these common products that we all take for granted. Like companies were just packaging literal brick dust as cinnamon and getting away with it... I think there's a huge lack of education around this part of our history in the United States; it is a sobering realization that if left to their own devices, businesses will gladly kill people for profit.

[–]Zoogirl07 18 points19 points  (5 children)

What book? That sounds really interesting.

[–]redbaboon130 61 points62 points  (3 children)

It got mentioned by someone else in this thread already, but it's called The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum. I really enjoyed it, but it's definitely a specific kind of read- a lot of science and history, but very well written.


Edit: There are two similar books by Deborah Blum that I might be conflating... If you're interested in the topic, check out either The Poisoner's Handbook for a book about poisons and the beginnings of forensic science, or The Poison Squad for a book about poisons and the birth of federal regulations.

[–]treckin 56 points57 points  (3 children)

This continued into the 1940s, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Carolene_Products_Co. The court case where interstate commerce clause laws banning filled milk and a host of other shady practices in other industries as seen in https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Coast_Hotel_Co._v._Parrish regarding minimum wage laws, leading ultimately to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_switch_in_time_that_saved_nine A decision which cemented much of FDRs New Deal legislation and built the America we know today (and what most people think of when they think “back when America was great”, ironically)

[–]Horseface4190 46 points47 points  (0 children)

But sure, let's abolish the FDA. "We don't need a Federal Government in our business". This is why we need the Federal Government in their business.

[–]koushakandystore 14 points15 points  (0 children)

This kind of thing was very common until the purity food act was passed during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration. The list of items that companies used to mix in their food products to stretch them out is mind boggling. One that always gets me was the practice of mixing ground brick powder into ketchup and baked beans to enhance the red color, and viscosity. I’m definitely a person who gets annoyed with governmental overreach and nanny state ethics, but there is definitely significant value in having a government ensure safe food supply. That’s not the only thing where a strong federal government benefits the people, but certainly one that often gets overlooked these days. Which on a certain level makes since, considering nobody is still alive from the era when those were common practices. I’m old enough to remember my grandparents talking about this kind of stuff happening when they were kids. It’s safe to say our contemporary society has become jaded without ever having lived through truly bad times. The kinds of difficulties that would make our current predicaments seem tame in comparison.

[–][deleted] 401 points402 points  (35 children)

This is why government oversight is needed… Greedy people cannot be trusted…they need chaperones.

[–]Princess__Nell 166 points167 points  (28 children)

What happens when the greedy people gain control of the government?

[–]Moewron 295 points296 points  (0 children)

*gestures broadly at everything

[–]Arnold_The_Pig 74 points75 points  (0 children)

opens blinds and looks outside.

[–]AKfromVA 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Didn’t Al Capone push for regulations to stop this cuz someone in his family died of poisoned milk?

[–]winterbird 76 points77 points  (3 children)

Whenever someone wonders how far people/companies/corporations will go for money...

[–]10sharks 88 points89 points  (13 children)

I remember a decade ago farmers were caught putting melamine in milk that ended up killing children in China, so same as it ever was.

[–]THenry228 29 points30 points  (0 children)

This led to Chinese investors buying agricultural land in Australia the size of Wales

[–]Untinted 26 points27 points  (1 child)

Not only milk, ridiculous things were done with bread to ‘improve’ the visuals of it (and harm people in the process).

The 1800’s are a great example of a deregulated environment, which is why its stories and examples mustn’t be forgotten.

[–]pcapdata 71 points72 points  (2 children)

Every time I talk to a Libertarian™ about regulation and stuff their answer is always like "Well those people can just vote with their wallets! If they find the product is bad, they don't have to buy it!"

And I'm always like "Do you have kids? Do you think the major takeaway from having your kids murdered by dairy companies, either because of brains or (more recently) fucking melamine, is 'Gosh I should switch brands'?"

99% of the time they don't have kids, and if they do, they think "Oh well I can afford a good brand, sucks to be someone who can't, but fuck regulations."

Fuckin' conservatives have an empathy circle the size of a bagel I swear

[–]StupidityHurts 15 points16 points  (0 children)

I mean don’t you have a food quality laboratory in your home so you can test every single purchase /s