Filed under: biggest fears, Creepy, deep thoughts, Fail, fury, Hating, just saying..., politics!, shame shame shame, Tragedy | Tags: asshats, Civil Rights, Conservatives, don blankenship, douche, economics, Feelings, Idiots, mining, people are stupid, people who suck, politics!, Rat King, Sad., selfish, suck-asses, teabaggers, unfettered capitalism, workers' rights
i would argue yes, but not just in the sense of all these right-wing militias springing up.
count me among the people who were truly saddened to hear that the four missing miners from the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion last week were found dead. like a lot of people, i was really hoping for a miracle and that those four men would somehow be found alive (there were numerous references to the airtight safety chambers in the mines that had food and water in them.) it’s a scary enough thought thinking about working in such a dark, dirty and foreboding place for 40 hours a week, walking in tunnels miles and miles long over 1,000 feet underground. add to that all the health problems that can accompany this job–from a relatively mild vitamin D deficiency to the infamous Black Lung. sure, these people do alright financially, but even if they have health insurance and other benefits that come with the job, it is far from a stable occupation. having health insurance doesn’t prevent these workers from having health problems (unlike most other occupations, this one causes health problems.) and once the mining company decides that there is no longer a large enough payoff in working the mine, they close it up and the jobs are gone.
add to this situation, then, the fact that these mining companies, including Massey Energy who runs the Upper Big Branch Mine, are actively and vocally opposed to government regulations to better ensure the physical safety of the men who work in the mines. it’s not enough that these mining companies speak and work against rules to improve mine safety, but they have found loopholes in the system whereby they can basically indefinitely avoid paying the monetary penalties–usually no more than several hundred thousand dollars–and avoid having to change anything about the way the mine functions (they appeal the citation/violation and it is hung up in court for years.) mining companies are very reluctant to close down a mine because it costs them a lot of money to shut down, fix the problem and then start up from a dead stop. purely a profit motive–risk the lives of the people in the mine to save a buck. so that means that, in places like the Upper Big Branch mine, despite the hundreds of safety violations the mine was cited for, the company can choose to simply pay no fine and nothing about the state or function of the mine changes. this, i would argue, then directly contributes to the mining disasters we’ve seen all too often in the past few years.
note to energy and mining company CEOs (like Don Blankenship) about government regulations: they are having to write these regulations because YOU are not doing enough to ensure the safety of your employees.
note to others who have problems with the government regulating industries: this system of capitalism focuses on monetary profits, NOT on quality of life improvements; it rewards the people who can get the most out of their employees for the least money, NOT the people who work more than 40-hour weeks. and, historically, if it had been left up to private companies and businesses to regulate themselves, we would have no weekends, no limit to how many hours an employer can ask us to work, no minimum wage, employers would be able to discriminate based on whatever basis they chose, the list goes on and on.
instead of Don Blankenship railing against the government and saying (ever so disingenuously) that it’s ridiculous to say that the government cares more about worker safety than he does, he should put his money where his mouth is. he should work WITH the government to establish standards, systems and rules that do a better job of ensuring the long- and short-term health and safety of the people who work the mines instead of allowing the effect on their families and physical well-being to be a crapshoot.
on a final note, i’ve never seen a person more brazenly motivated by money than this man–his political positions are based solely on his job and what political rules (or lack thereof) will make it easiest for him to make a profit, and that’s it. he’ll throw the environment under the bus (like so many, unfortunately), but he’s also willing to risk the lives of the people who work for him. so i completely disagree with him–the government NEEDS to get involved. the system NEEDS to be changed to shift the economic incentive to match up with the action that will best care for the mine employees.
Don Blankenship says that “politicians get emotional” about disasters. fuck yes, anyone with a soul would be emotional about the senseless and PREVENTABLE deaths of 29 people, the soulless fucktard who cares more about his profits than the loss of family members sees it as an inconvenient glitch in his mine’s production.
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