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Jumping Ship

    I am hitting the exits; Take this job and shove it; Elvis has left the building; I’m Papa John and I am delivering my resignation; See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya; I am jumping ship.

     You can tell by my previous paragraph that I am getting a bit carried away. The above is a  collection of sayings that could be said by someone who is “proudly” leaving their place of employment. Yes, I did throw a few of my own creations. 

     “Jumping Ship” has come  to be known as a term of someone taking control of their destiny. It has even been used to indicate the actions of Democratic candidates, when being associated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  The real basis is connected to such work as the 19th Century English coal trade.

     During the 19th century, hundreds of seaman lost their lives, while sailing on ships that were dangerously overloaded. At that time, there was no regulation as to how much coal  that could be put on a ship. As a result, the more coal, the more profits. Thus, ships would be loaded up to the deck line and make sailing a life or death propostion.

    It is reported that in 1873, 411 ships sailing from England sank, and took countless men to a watery grave. Despite the sight of an overloaded ship, once a seaman signed on for work, he could not back out or he was charged with “jumping ship”, which was considered a criminal offense. For the profit seeking owners, they won either way. If the coal made it, they made money; If the ship sank, insurance paid them for their losses. The sheer numbers showed that “corporate England” did not care about these sailors or these “coffin ships”.

     Samuel Plimsoll   was a British politician who campaigned and is best remembered for developing the Plimsoll Line.  He introduce legislation to get restrictions on how much coal could be shipped. Not surprisingly, he faced great pressures from ship owners and even the British Prime Minister of that day, Benjamin Disraeli. The ultimate adoption of his measurement “Plimsoll Line”, as well as the overall Merchant Shipping Act, is credited with saving many lives.

     I have given you a brief history and example of when government regulation made a difference. Today, politicians are jumping on the theme of “less government”, as an excuse to eliminate government regulations.

     I received a copy of this months Costco “My Business”. It has 3 pages of small business political ads. The premise,  in reaching out to people like me,  is to encourage voting for pro-business candidates. On its face, that sounds like real free enterprise. However, if you look closer at each of these ads, you will notice the words, “Do you stand for an end to burdensome, intrusive government regulations?”

     I just saw a news story about the FDA announcing a significant restriction in the the allowance of prescriptions for the diabetes drug,  Avandia. The FDA is “regulating” this drug, to only be prescribed in limited indications, when no other treatment options exist. To date, 47,000 heart attacks have been attributed to Avandia.  Already, the drug has been banned in Europe. The manufacturer has been fighting restriction and recall.

     A fine line exists between what is right for business, and what is government intrustion. Unfortunately, when profits are at stake, business has been shown to put profit over safety. ” No government” sounds good from a bully pulpit. Unfortunately, there are still those that have that 19th Coal shipping mentality. Next man up for the profit of the company.   Sometimes we better be careful, because we just might get what we ask for.

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