Monday, August 13, 2007

The New Gilded Age. Or Workers: F-U

"Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men
in America, and last I checked he was sleeping with your boss."

Mine owner Bob Murray threatening mine inspectors with the wrath of McConnell and wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao if they dared to do their jobs. (The quote is several years old)

Government is supposed to have an adversarial relationship with industry. That does not have to mean antagonistic. But we are now in an era where there is no longer the slightest hint of government standing as a check on an unfettered and out of control industrial sector. The line is so seamless now that I have a hard time imagining how it can be undone in the years to come.

The above quote is from an article by West Virginia reporter Ken Ward, Jr.who covers the coal mining industry as his beat. The entire article asks the questions that theMSM won't cover, in their interest of marginalizing the story with the same breathless reporting they give the missing white girl/car chase/celebu-rehab stories. Please do not believe that I feel callously toward these families that are suffering under the glare of the media spotlight. But I believe their interests are better served by a media that would care to discover why one man can own so many mines and garner so many fines and deaths under his watch and still be allowed to be in business. Much less 'championed' by Mitch McConnell and ElaineChao.

More from the article:

Beneath it all of this seems to be this assumption that violations of federal mine safety and health laws is acceptable – that the coal industry is simply unable to comply with all of the rules that history has taught are needed to protect what Congress declared to be the coal industry's "most previous resource – the miner."

I fall into this trap, too. It's hard not to. Over the years, when one coal company I cover has had miners die at its operations, I've frequently listed the hundreds of violations that those operations have been cited for. Almost every time, the company's publicist calls me to complain that I need to give the story some perspective, that their hundreds of violations aren't really anything out of the ordinary. There are mines around the country that make it through the year without deaths and injuries. Reporters should be asking why they can't all do that, and why they can't all follow the rules all the time. Industry lobbyists and regulators say that they won't settle for anything less than zero injuries and deaths – but then they want to play comparison games to avoid criticism when disaster strikes.

"We need a serious attitude adjustment," said Celeste Monforton, a former federal mine regulator who now teaches and studies at George Washington University. "Violating safety and health standards – and that's what citations are – is illegal.

"If an airplane had 50 safety violations, it sure wouldn't be cleared for takeoff," Monforton said. "Why is it OK for miners to be exposed to 50 or more hazards, and it's considered 'normal?' That attitude must become a thing of the past."


Evil Spock said...

Its frikkin' sick that McConnell's wife is the frikkin' Labor Secretary.

Mine cave-ins, bridges collapsing, levy breakings . . .

And all they offer us is cake.

FranIAm said...

The whole thing disgusts me. They are evil incarnate.

This is another one of your greats Jess.

Suzy said...

The other thing that I keep thinking about as I read this, is that this drama is being played out on National Forest land. This operation is just bulldozing OUR property. Not that I think they shouldn't be doing what they can to rescue the poor souls who are trapped (and I sincerely doubt they are still alive despite everything Mr.Talks to Squirrels says.)

Matty Boy said...

It's easy to hate Bob Murray. According to Greta Van Cesspool of Fox Noise, she got a lot of e-mail about Murray, all of it negative and this from Fox viewers. It doesn't help his case that he's ugly as sin, kind of like Exxon's Lee Raymond, but he's also a blustering liar. He thinks he can keep repeating that the cause was an earthquake when seismologists now say it wasn't.

He's like a pro wrestling version of a bad boss.