Posted by ESC on December 22, 2003
In Reply to: Life is still cheap posted by Henry on December 21, 2003
: : The meaning is clear but what are the origins of this phrase or cliche?
: In some societies, material possessions are less easy to acquire than the labour of poor people. This was often the case before and during the Industrial Revolution. It was considered more economic to risk the lives of workers, and replace them when injured or killed, than to improve safety and working conditions. Loss of lives was considered to be cheaper. Work is still exported to countries with lower values for human lives.
My father was a coal miner in West Virginia. I remember seeing references in his union newspaper about the owners/management in the "old days" being more careful about the lives of the mules. Mules were expensive. Men could be replaced cheaply.