View Full Version : Massey mine disaster debunks self-regulating free-market "myth"

04-07-2010, 02:14 PM
You hear it all the time. Some self-proclaimed “Libertarian” or “Free-Market Republican” will argue against “government regulation” and insists that “corporations will always do what is in the best interests of the community because their survival depends upon it.” That’s the very cornerstone of “Free Market” ideology. Ron Paul built his political career upon it. If the mining disaster in West Virgina yesterday proves anything, it is that without government regulation, big business will skirt safety and gamble with peoples’ lives so long as the cost of the occasional disaster is less than the cost of prevention.

In the 1970’s, it was discovered that the Ford Motor Company had known of a problem with exploding gas tanks on their Ford Pinto for years, but had decided that it was cheaper to pay victims “hush money” than fix the problem. Ford did not fix the problem until the Federal Government found out in 1978, forcing them to recall over 1.5 million vehicles… a record that (I believe) lasts to this day.

Reports of 600 safety violations at the Massey Mine in just the past 18 months are emerging. Yet, in 2008, one of Massey’s subsidiaries paid the largest fine in the history of the industry… $20 million dollars… for “clean water violations”, not safety violations.

Corporations are NOT benevolent entities that will always do the right thing out of survival. No, left on their own, corporations will cut every corner they can, so long as settling law suits is cheaper than enacting safety measures to prevent problems from happening again (or in the first place). And if there are no regulatory laws to break, on what basis would victims have to sue? But Tea-baggers and the GOP would have you believe that the solution to all our ills is “deregulation“.

Life & Limb aren’t the only things at risk with deregulation. I remind you of Wall Street and the banking bailout. They took ENORMOUS risks and gambled with the money of depositors and investors. They cratered the economy and sparked a global recession without concern for the consequences because 8 years of Republican deregulation let them do it.

So the next time you hear some brain-dead Tea Party zealot spouting their “less government” nonsense, simply point to Massey, the banks and Wall Street as examples of what happens when you let “the free market” take charge and let corporations run amok.


Hooray for good ol' state capitalism protecting us from evil freedom. :confused:

04-07-2010, 02:19 PM
Who forced the miners to work in those conditions?

Anti Federalist
04-07-2010, 02:21 PM
You have massive government regulation.

Mine still blows up.

Cars still crash.


04-07-2010, 02:23 PM
Governmetn regulations can prevent anything including...


Without regulations Godzilla would have destroyed us all by now.

Thank god for regulations.:rolleyes:

04-07-2010, 02:24 PM
Who forced the miners to work in those conditions?

The crazy thing is that the state apparently recognized the horrible conditions because they gave them numerous fines for safety, yet people worked there probably because they believed that they were generally following government regulations which they believed would keep them safe. I wonder how many workers knew about the fines and the safety issues?

Definitely some strong moral hazard issues going on here..

04-07-2010, 02:24 PM
What a moron. If the mines weren't regulated then what were the 600 security violations for? This just proves the government is incapable of regulating anything since it is the government that has been regulating the mines and the banks.

04-07-2010, 02:24 PM
Sounds like the Massey mine disaster shows that even with regulations corporations will still self-regulate. So the regulations mean nothing. If the corporations have enough money, they can just pay the fines that the government steals from them and move on to ignore regulations.

So in essence, the government is just making money from inventing rules they know are going to be broken in order to collect the fines.

04-07-2010, 02:29 PM
Has any one seen the fine totals; they are in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year. This goes to fund the regulators who did not prevent this disaster any more than the operators. It is simply taxing the company for nothing but hassle...ties up the management focusing on the regulations and their consequences rather than on the job of mining coal. If you're too busy trying to meet all the governments demands one has less ability to focus on doing their best.

04-07-2010, 02:35 PM
Yes because mining companies make lots of money when their mines explode and their workers die and the families sue them. :rolleyes:

Fox McCloud
04-07-2010, 02:36 PM
I see this as a failure of government; even with the fines and regulations to safety, they still didn't work, why would even more suddenly change that fact?

Life isn't riskless; if it was, there would be practically no economic incentive to do much of anything.

04-07-2010, 02:38 PM
Yes because mining companies make lots of money when their mines explode and their workers die and the families sue them. :rolleyes:

The question is, will this company face any liability from the families, or will they be protected by government regulations :confused:

04-07-2010, 02:44 PM
What exactly do they think caused the accident??

A mine could be run safely or unsafely no matter what regulations exist or not. pointing out a single failure means about nothing in the larger scope of things. But most definitely there is "good" and "bad" management that is for certain.

04-07-2010, 02:56 PM
"If the mining disaster in West Virgina yesterday proves anything, it is that without government regulation, big business will skirt safety and gamble with peoples’ lives..."

HUH??? Splain this to me Lucy. Does the West Virgina disaster prove government regulations protect the community? They died right?

04-07-2010, 03:44 PM
No amount of regulating will ever make mining 100% safe. None. Ever. Understand this, process it, get it through your thick, mainstream media skulls.

The Government knows this, which is of course why the regulations are there, and why the fines are charged, and why they're paid, etc.. It's a big circlejerk that justifies itself.

There are shelters in the mine with food and safety equipment, but in an EXPLOSION you do not always have time to leap out of the way and rush to one of those shelters. How is that so difficult to understand? This is an entirely different situation from Sago, in which people slowly suffocated because their safety breathing equipment was simply not working properly after the explosion cut them off from escape routes.

Incidentally, there is terrific room for rebuttal in examining the Sago incident.

On March 11, 2006, Associated Press reported that federal inspectors had approved the Sago mine for reopening the previous day. On March 16, 2006, Village Voice reported that the mine reopened March 15, 2006. He criticized, "So, not knowing what caused the explosion, or whether the mine remains vulnerable to that kind of accident, the mine owners started operations again as the federal and state safety officials stood by." ICG closed the mine on March 19, 2007. On December 12, 2008 they announced on their website they would be closing it permanently.

The officials literally stood there and said "well... we don't know what just caused an explosion that killed a dozen people, critically injured another, and from which many men barely escaped... seems safe to start up operations, though!"

If you read the rest of the Sago wiki, you will find plenty of damage to go around for both private entities AND Government regulators. You will also see just how much of the page is devoted to "hearings" which were generated by the disaster. As a result:

The 2006 Congressional Record for the statements made by Senators Byrd, Rockefeller, Reid and Kennedy regarding the introduction of this bill runs from page S447 to S452. It can be found on the Government Printing Office site.

The bill would mandate equipment to communicate with miners, locate miners, and provide sufficient caches of air.
Rescue teams must be staffed and on site.
Operators must notify the MSHA immediately when there is an accident. Any coal operator who fails to do so will be subject to a $100,000 fine, and/or 12 to 15 years imprisonment
The bill would mandate a rapid notification and response system.
The bill would create a new mandatory minimum penalty of $10,000 for coal operators that show “negligence or reckless disregard” for the safety standards of the Mine Act.
The bill would nullify an MSHA rule issued in 2004 that authorizes the use of belt entries for ventilation, which may have caused fire in another accident at Alma.
The bill would create a science and technology transfer office in MSHA to pull research and development ideas from other federal agencies for use in the mines.
The bill would create an ombudsman in the Labor Department’s Inspector General office for miners to report safety violations.
Please pay close attention to the part I bolded. This bill, a result of the Sago disaster, had to NULLIFY a safety rule because it actually SOMETIMES CONTRIBUTED TO UNSAFE CONDITIONS.


04-07-2010, 04:13 PM
Who forced the miners to work in those conditions?

the state and it's capitalist partners in crime who deprived the workers of other options through state interventionism on behalf of monopolizing capital in the hands of a few rich assholes

04-07-2010, 04:17 PM
also, it's perfectly true that corporations don't have that great of an incentive structure to take care of employees - employees are just chattel to them, just as they are chattel to the state

we need to stop putting our faith in large, hierarchical organizations and their related apologist ideologies