[Many years ago I spent a summer working in an aircraft plant. The noise level was such that any working there would be partially deafened over the long run and there were dangers (a guy who replaced me one day when I took off to apply for a scholarship was squashed between two racing fork lifts). However, one protection was that none of us was permitted to lift anything more than 30 pounds. Workmen’s compensation laws put in place by FDR made companies liable for disabilities caused by unsafe practices, even if a worker had been careless. So frugal companies played it safe and followed the rules laid down by government:


One hears in the sad case of the lost six minors in Utah that the company was following government prescribed practices in ripping out the last bits of coal (‘retreat’ mining which was likely to cause collapses when the pillars of coal holding up the ceilings were pulled out). Mr. Murray, the owner of this and a number of mines in Utah and other states is obviously rationalizing like mad with his claims that an earthquake caused the mine collapse. It is most likely the case here that the federal mine safety authorities had not kept up with the hazards involved in new methods of mining:


In far too many areas our governments, federal and local, have been failing us, as recent infrastructure disasters have all too readily displayed — the destruction of New Orleans with inadequate levies to keep back the waters — and another hurricane headed in their direction!

The bottom line here is that our lives and properties are at risk when our governments fail us with safety standards and corrections of hazards. Corporations are in business to make profits. And Mr. Murray’s rationalizations are all too manifest evidence of what can happen when such things are left to private enterprise — which is not really private at all, but rather a potential hazard to all women, children and other living things when our governments fail in their regulatory duties.

We need more than prayers to keep us safe and healthy. Ed Kent]


Searching for the Miners
For too long, the Republican-controlled Congress allowed
mine operators to put off making needed investments to
ensure their workers’ safety.



“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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