Saturday, January 07, 2006

It's All Capitalism's Fault

I was a little ambivalent writing about the death of trapped miners in America, both because the situation of the families was so unbearably awful, and because I know there are lots of mining disasters much closer to me geographically than America which I don't write about. I was worried about reinforcing the relative values of huma life that newspapers are so fond of.

But I have to recommend Behind The Mine Disaster: Act of God or Corporate Shortcuts? Can you guess what the answer was?

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Sago Mine had been cited over 200 times in the past year. Because the Mine Safety and Health Act require every mine to be inspected four times a year, numerous citations are not uncommon. The troubling thing is that both citations and injuries have gone up significantly since last year. The mine's injury rate is three times the industry average and it has been plagued by a dozen roof falls in the last half of last year.
People die in mines (and other workplace) because the cost of making the mines safe is more than their lives are worth to those who make profit from their labour.

6 comments:

  1. I hate to say it but the only reason that people know about the mine disaster is that "it makes good television."

    There are hundreds that die every day, and many, many more important issues that need to be discussed. This shouldn't be making national news headlines, let alone international news headlines. But it did, because it's "good television."

    So while I understand that a tragedy has taken place, I'm also very, very wary of elevating that tragedy beyond what's going on here. In the large scheme of things, we've got deadlier problems here that don't make good television.

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  2. Oh I agree with you, but I think as it's getting publicity it's important to point out that it isn't some kind of random act of God, but something the company did and was responsible for.

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  3. Capitalism is not at fault -- the US is not a capitalist economy. The US is a mercantilist economy (you could call it State capitalism but that is a false label).

    Capitalism is free markets, unencumbered by regulation, tariff and taxation.

    Don't blame capitalism for deaths -- in a capitalism market, companies that were unsafe would quickly be run out of business by competition. Without capitalism, though, competition is not readily available as government licenses and regulated so much that it is hard to enter many markets.

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  4. Anonymous3:33 pm

    " in a capitalism market, companies that were unsafe would quickly be run out of business by competition."


    HA HA HA

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  5. I have to say I'm with anonymous - I'd love to know what mechanism would run companies that were unsafe out of business.

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  6. Ideally, people would not work for employers that were demonstrably unsafe, and people would not buy products from those who negligently endanger their workers. For that to happen, the workers have to do something else to earn a living.

    The problem is that accidents will happen - they will always happen - in non-capitalist societies they still happen, but since the mines are government run, the government run media suppresses the scale and extent of the problem.

    Hopefully the families of those killed will take a class action out against the mining company for compensation and exemplary damages. THAT is how the company should be punished.

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