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Utah, Minnesota and Iraq

Robert E. Murray the owner of the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah where the miners are trapped exemplifies the stereotype of a Republican business owner from the most conservative state in the union. From the statements broadcast I wonder why anyone in their right mind would risk their lives to work for him. After the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia last year the Government wanted to review the safety procedures at mines across the country. Mr. Murray was upset that the government would interfere with the operations at his mine. Why would any person in his position resent the scrutiny of his operations in the light of the failure in West Virginia?

The main excuse that people like Murray use is “government interference.” But what is the government really doing that would interfere with the mine operations? If the mine owner is already seriously considering mine safety, then the minimum standards that any government agency might demand should not be a problem. A person truly concerned about safety would surely go over the top on precautions taken.

The truth is that a mine owner is more likely to be concerned about making money than safety. Cutting back on the cost of safety is likely to be found in the bottom line in the short term. Taking dangerous risks is bound to result in cost savings, until the law of probability results in a fatal accident. Less government regulations allow mine owners to take more dangerous risks, eventually resulting in a fatal accident.

Let us assume for a minute that the mine owner in Utah was practicing what he was preaching in Utah. He didn’t want the government to impose strict government regulations on his mine. So, maybe he took matters in his own hands and just determined that he wouldn’t follow them. Maybe he thought that his cheaper procedures would be just as safe. Maybe he didn’t care about safety at all. Let’s not consider his reasoning at this moment. Let’s just consider the hypothetical case that he wanted to save money and he disdained the US government regulation of the mining industry.

If this were the case we could assume that he might determine that it was worth the risk to break the law and follow his own safety procedures. And, for years his risk might have paid off with cheaper mining and no apparent harm. But, over the years the infrastructure of the mine might have become weaker and last weak it might have given way and the result might have been a huge cave-in. Obviously this is hypothetical, but it could be a possible result of an attitude that desires less government protection.

The same attitude in government results in less money for the upkeep of current infrastructure. The question becomes - Why spend money on something that we already have? Let’s build something new and better that I could put on my list of accomplishments. The collapse of the I35W bridge in Minnesota may also be the result of ignoring the infrastructure, because the voters take these things for granted and prefer to save money rather than spend it. Less government regulation results in less inspections and less demands to repair and renew the older infrastructure.

Of course, I am only exploring the attitude and philosophy that might result in what we have seen over the last week. Less government means less infrastructure, and it also means less upkeep of the infrastructure that already exists. Less government means less inspection and a higher risk of infrastructure failure.

We could be talking about bridges, or seawalls or even the lakes, streams, and parks that we already have. Less regulation leads to more opportunity for abuse. Which is better, a classroom where the teacher walks up and down the aisles during a test or a classroom where the teacher goes to the teacher’s lounge during the test. The first case may result in lower scores than the second may and the teacher might receive acclamations for the students higher test scores. But the results are likely not to reflect the situation accurately.

Similarly lack of government regulations are likely to result in an appearance of safety when the truth is much further from the appearance.

So, then we have our situation in Iraq. Why would reasonable people be willing to ship boat loads of money to a far away country in the middle of nowhere to create a new infrastructure when these same people are not willing to spend anywhere near the same amount of money on fixing the infrastructure of our country? It can only be because these people don’t worry about spending someone else’s money to fix their own problems. They want a source of oil that will take them into the future. And, a friendly cooperative capitalistic country in the Middle East is bound to give them what they want. And, like Utah and Minnesota the government regulations seemed to get in the way of progress, so they were ignored in favor of a gut feeling. It was a risk that George W Bush was willing to make. The risk wasn’t measured or evaluated and when failure came the responsibility wasn’t accepted.

In fact, Robert E. Murray doesn’t want to take responsibility either. The collapse of the mine was so powerful that the event was recorded on seismic instruments. Scientists who have analyzed the data have told us that the seismic event recorded was the collapse of the mine. But, Robert E. Murray found a scientist that was willing to say that an earthquake could have caused the collapse. And, Robert E. Murray is willing to tell the world that the earthquake and “aftershocks” have caused the collapse of the mine. Of course this takes away all responsibility from the possibility that he might have allowed the mine to operate with few safety precautions. (If Robert E. Murray practiced what he preached.)

From looking at these events it seems to be clear that the Party of “less government” has taken the risk and is beginning to lose. In the short term “less government” depends on the governments that built that infrastructure before they came along. But, after the infrastructure begins to wear out the lack of upkeep begins to pay off and the risks begin to result in loss of life and loss of money. Maybe the people will begin to realize that less government now results in either a poor infrastructure later, or much more spending to repair and rebuild what has failed.


Don’t forget what Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit


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One Response to “Utah, Minnesota and Iraq”

  1. this is one area where china is far ahead of us. what did they do to the head of their food and drug administration several weeks ago?

    QUIZ: how many mine operators would have to executed before mine safety would be paid attention too? ANSWER: a lot less than the number of working people who are being killed in our mines today.

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