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I have faced it in the text below:

...But something drove Pullman to his own cost; his benefactions nearly ruined him.

Richard Sennett, Respect in a world of inequality, Penguin, p.130.

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    Perhaps it means 'something drove Pullman, to his own cost' (note the comma). Perhaps not.
    – Řídící
    Aug 20, 2016 at 6:34

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This is about railroad owner, George Pullman, the eponymous developer of the railroad sleeping car and owner of Pullman, Illinois, a company town for his workers. Pullman owned and controlled everything in his town, which he expected to be a profit center for his company. The town provided parks, schools, and much better housing and residential services than the urban tenements of the day. But Pullman couldn't give up the control that ownership provided him, and he couldn't give up the plan to squeeze a profit out of the town. These two factors drove him to a disaster: during a financial panic, he reduced wages but not charges. This led a a bloody strike that was a disaster for Pullman. (That was the cost.) His good works and intentions (the benefactions), as undercut as they were by his despotism and gouging, were nearly ruinous for his enterprise.

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  • I think the question refers to the 'drive someone to their own cost' (as opposed to say 'drive someone to their knees / grave / decision to resign') problem. Keep these mind seems to have deduced a possible explanation. Aug 20, 2016 at 14:54
  • @EdwinAshworth Possibly, except the author didn't use a comma. KTM's proposes an aside: To his own cost, something drove Pullman. Which seems to be missing the destination, not to mention the context , which is that Pullman's mindset drove him to a result that cost him. As opposed to the profits that providing benefactions to his workforce should have gained him. But perhaps I'm overthinking this.
    – deadrat
    Aug 20, 2016 at 17:12
  • Be a great answer on History. Aug 20, 2016 at 18:38
  • @EdwinAshworth Talk about damning with faint praise, eh?
    – deadrat
    Aug 20, 2016 at 19:16
  • I usually get told off when I say what I really believe. So sometimes I work on a hedged version. Aug 20, 2016 at 20:21

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