The co-founder of progressive blog The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, has attributed the West Virginia mining disaster, along with virtually every other accident under the sun, as a direct result of small-government and corporate greed in the April 13 Huffpo column "The West Virginia Mining Disaster and the Financial Crisis Have the Same Root Cause."
"Officials say it's too soon to pinpoint the exact cause of the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that took the lives of 29 miners, but we certainly know enough to identify the root cause," Huffington began. "It's the same cause that led to the 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 12 miners. And it's also the same cause that led to the Lehman Brothers disaster, the Citigroup disaster, the bursting of the housing bubble, and the implosion of our financial system: a badly broken regulatory system."
"The economic collapse has not killed people, but it has gradually destroyed millions of lives. Both calamities occurred because elected officials who should have been creating a regulatory system that protects working families instead created a system that protects the corporations it was meant to watch over."
Huffington predictably mouthed the response from the left and the mainstream media whenever something goes wrong in a business or industry: Massey Energy's Don Blankenship and other evil CEOs who put profit ahead of people.
"The ‘fundamentally weak' state of America's watchdogs is the deliberate end product of massive amounts of corporate lobbying," Huffington declared. "In the case of the mining industry, the amount spent by mine owners on lobbyists intent on weakening regulations and widening loopholes has skyrocketed from under $2.5 million in 2003 to $14 million today, with predictable results: profits up; dead miners up."
"The essence of the story is remarkably similar to what happened in the financial industry over the last decade," she continued. "A disaster occurs. Politicians are ‘outraged' and demand reform. Laws are passed. And then, when the next disaster occurs, that the new laws were supposed to protect against, we find out about the loopholes."
Perhaps, but the facts don't really support Huffington's argument.
Since 1970, approximately 250 coal-mining fatalities have occurred in the U.S. due to accident. In contrast to the centralized, government-controlled utopia of China (where the average coal miner produced about 2.2 percent of a coal miner in the U.S. in 2003) - even when using the highly questionable numbers given by the Chinese government, approximately 4,750 coal miners in China died in 2006...alone.
More context: according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, mining is not even in the top-ten most dangerous occupations in the U.S. (i.e. less dangerous than fishing, driving a taxi, collecting garbage, or being a traveling salesman).
"There is no sense of urgency in Washington about making sure these corporations play by the rules," Huffington said, before lamenting about an irrefutable need for additional and stricter financial reform. "In 2007, after the Utah mining disaster, we got angry, we held hearings, we supposedly fixed things, then we moved on. Three years later, 29 miners die. And the cycle starts again."
Image via pophistorydig.com.