HIGHTOWER: De-Regulated Train Wrecks

Our Loudspeaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is always shooting from the lip about "getting Big Government off the backs of industry."This is an ideologically-correct crusade that wins big campaign contributions for Newt from the captains of industry. But before he swallows his own BS about the pure perfection of deregulation, he should talk it over with Billy Rex Hall, "Rascal" Russ and Mike Vinet. Only he can't. They're dead.Billy, "Rascal" and Mike are among dozens of locomotive engineers and other train employees killed in train crashes the last few years -- victims of the deregulation mentality that Gingrich so glibly espouses from the safety of his Washington office.As railroad conglomerates have merged, downsized and been deregulated, train collisions are on the rise. Yet, railroad lobbyists strut around Capitol Hill bragging that rail accidents are down. How can they claim that up is down? Simple: They lie.The public doesn't know it, but railroad corporations only report train accidents on a voluntary basis, which raises the age-old question: If a train crashes in the woods and the company doesn't report it, does it make a noise?Not in Washington, which is important, since the Federal Railroad Administration bases its inspections and safety rules on these voluntary accident reports -- no reports, no need for action! It's the "magic" of Newt's deregulation ideology.Meanwhile, this ideology is allowing the corporations to work train crews up to 112 hours a week, and to cut-out such basic safety equipment as working radios. That's right -- not all trains have radios that work! Hello.To learn what you can do to replace Newt's ideology with common sense, contact Leroy Jones at the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers: 202/347-7936.

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