Why 'Accidents' Are Not Inevitable

A new book argues that accidental deaths, from car crashes to industrial accidents, are a result of a 'rapacious' capitalist system that prioritizes profits over people.

2 minute read

February 16, 2022, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Construction Worker

Talbot Troy / Flickr

Streetsblog published an excerpt from Jessie Singer's There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster — Who Profits and Who Pays the Price, a new book that "surveys 'accidents' arising from industries as diverse as energy, poultry, automobiles and pharmaceuticals to argue that the disasters we’ve come to accept as inevitable are, in fact, preventable — and that they stem from a rapacious capitalism that has distorted our politics because it values profits over people’s lives." According to Singer, "Accidents happen in America, and happen here at outsize rates compared to our peer countries around the globe, because everything in America is built with a mind toward profit and thrift, and on a foundation of white supremacy, a culture of punishment, and a myth of self-reliance."

From the book:

The solution is simple: Stop punishing mistakes and pretending that people are perfectible. Trade in the bootstraps parable for an acceptance that people need tools and resources to survive, and an insistence that society should provide them. Apply a harm-reduction model to every corner of the built environment. Construct workplaces, roads, and homes, but also laws and policies, with a focus on reducing accident-related damage, cushioning the blow of everything, and protecting life, health, and dignity at any and all cost. Remember that the people who die most often by accident are often the most vulnerable — the youngest and the oldest, the most discriminated against and least wealthy — and start there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 in Streetsblog New York City

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