The free market ideologues who currently run the agencies in charge of regulating mine safety really don't believe in their jobs. They believe that workers who think the mines are unsafe are free to leave their job and find another. That sort of extremist approach allows preventable disasters like mine collapses (or, for that matter, levee failures) to occur, then blames the victims. Because the victims do not have any collective power to oppose this malfeasance by the regulators, they do not factor into the political equation.
If anyone needs proof why we need to restore the American union movement, take a look at this mine disaster. A strong union would have prevented it from happening.
from Crooks and Liars:
Some families testified yesterday in utter despair over their loss of a son and a husband. I’ve written a lot about the actions of the shady Utah mine owner Bob Murray. This is a heartbreaking look at how these families are dealing with the tragic deaths that happened in part because of the incompetent actions of Bob Murray.
Sheila Phillips - Mother of miner Brandon Phillips:
“It’s just hard to have hope, and have your heart broke every day, and have your grandson grow up without a dad…And I’d like to talk a little bit about Mr. Murray — I didn’t go to very many of the meetings because I couldn’t stand to listen to the man. He was talking about one day when they were moving the drill holes, and they had the pad ready for one and then they decided to drill it somewhere else, and I asked him why they didn’t have two going… and he said ‘we could drill you 1,000 holes and it wouldn’t make any difference.’ (transcripts and Digby below the fold)
They would find him, wouldn’t they? If they drilled at least 1,000? I just miss him…I would like to know where my son is in that hole, so I can leave a marker on that mountain.”
Wendy Black - Wife of miner Dale “Bird” Black:
“I want to know, if there are rules and regulations made to protect the miners, then who is to be hold accountable to make sure these are being followed? Please at least have one person with enough backbone to say ‘no more.’ MSHA has one job: mine safety and health administration. It would have taken just one MSHA official or one official from the company doing his job to have saved my husband’s life. Which one of them wasn’t doing his job?”
Tragically, a whole bunch of people have died and others are injured but so far, we’ve heard almost nothing about this “star’s” background in pushing unsafe mining techniques and anti-union policies and neither have we heard anything about the fact that the man Bush named to be the “mine safety czar” was such a bad choice for the job that he had to give him a recess appointment with a Republican congress…read on