Great Inventions

The Parachute

The parachute was invented in twelfth-century China. Early versions consisted of a cloth cone stretched over a wood frame, though with time the material used became more refined. In the late 1700s, pleated silk was the chosen fabric. But it was the twentieth century that saw the introduction of the most extravagant material: the golden parachute. It was engineered to protect corporate executives from the perils of a fall from grace and employment.

These are the numbers involved in rescuing some of the corporate brass:

Robert Eaton, the CEO of Chrysler, received a $70 million package;

Lee Raymond of the oil giant Exxon got $350 million;

Robert Nardelli of Home Depot received $210 million;

Hank McKinnell of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, $200 million;

Lloyd Blankfein of financial colossus Goldman Sachs did not lose his job but had to reduce his yearly compensation, which was $50 million. What remained was enough to keep him from going under in the crisis.

The Traffic Light

The first traffic light has been in operation since the end of 1868, standing in front of the British parliament.

In our time, other, far more powerful stoplights govern the world’s traffic.

In almost all countries of the North, the red light halts the circulation of many dangerous herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.

Yet in almost all of the countries of the South, the green light is on for these same agrotoxins, poisonous to humans but sold by the North.

Who runs the traffic lights?

Who governs the governments?

This is but an excerpt from Galeano's article in the November issue of The Progressive. To read the entire article and to subscribe to The Progressive for only $14.97 for a year, simply subscribe now by clicking here.