Friday, May 20, 2011

Deregulation Kills

For all those who scream for "smaller government," here is what it means -- unnecessary funerals for innocent hard-working families, children who will not have fathers, wives who will not have husbands, parents who have to grieve for dead sons who did not have to die, but for the greed of Don Blankenship and the r of the Massey Energy administration. They put profits before the lives of their employees. The non-partisan report on the tragedy reports,

"During the 10-year time period examined, the reporters found that Massey had been cited for 62,923 violations, 25,612 considered 'significant and substantial.' During that time, MSHA proposed $49.9 million in fines against Massey, $15 million more than any other company."
The response to this was to treat it not as a safety concern for its workers -- workers whose union Blankenship had made sure to violently bust -- but as a PR concern. From the report,
"Despite Blankenship's protests to the contrary, Massey Energy's safety program in fact appeared to be just a slogan."

The point is that when evil, in this case the complete disregard for the workers' welfare in order to maximize profits, becomes a central part of the worldview of management, obvious and egregious problems are not seen as problems, but as normal. Even Hannah Arendt would have to marvel at Blankenship's operation.
"Massey Energy engaged in a process of 'normalization of deviance' that, in the push to produce coal, made allowances for a faulty ventilation system, inadequate rock-dusting and poorly maintained equipment. The pre-shift, on-shift examination system -- devised with the intention of identifying problems and addressing them before they became disasters -- was a failure.

Most objective observers would find it unacceptable for workers to slog through neck-deep water or be subjected to constant tinkering with the ventilation system -- their very lifeline in an underground mine. Practices such as these can only exist in a workplace where the deviant has become normal, and evidence suggests that a great number of deviant practices became normalized at the Upper Big Branch mine."
What is supposed to protect the innocent workers from such deviance? The government. While Massey had been massively cited, Blankenship just happens to be a major contributor to the Republican party and law makers in it. We need to get government off the backs of industry, regulations are killing corporate productivity and profits. And so, government enforcement on scum like Blankenship and Massey largely went away under the Bush administration. The same old story, their people -- industry management and lobbyists -- get named to governmental posts "overseeing" their friends who happen to be past and clearly their future employers. The revolving door spins and innocent people pay the price, usually they just take our money, but this time they went for lives. If you think government is too big and you are paying too much in taxes, I've got 29 families in West Virginia for you, they're paying a lot less in income tax this year thanks to smaller government and Don Blankenship.