Friday, April 9, 2010


As if the normal abuses of Massey Energy Corporation and its ghoulish thug of a CEO were not horrid enough.  Now, their feudal arrogance has become openly disdainful of social or legal restraint. At first, I viewed the Upper Big Branch mine disaster as yet another sign of the American meltdown.  Old rotting infrastructure literally collapsing under its own neglect.  But, the April 5 coal mine disaster has led the coal lords on to new levels of hubris.

They have become used to the cowed serfs of Montcoal meekly accepting a press release and a check in exchange for the body of a loved one.  In their arrogance, they forgot that some of us are not yet under their thumb.  Some pockets of free thought remain.  We are not yet all so beaten down and blackmailed by the deadly choice between unjust work or watching our family starve. Some of us can still think clearly and are not yet afraid to raise our voice. 
Not one sign of shame has been shown. In fact, I have seen no act of contrition however tiny on the part of the Massey feudal lords. Far from accepting any share of blame, they are busy pointing out how blameless they are. How in fact, they are as much the victim here as those crushed and defiled bodies laying miles beneath the feet of their grieving families. 

Fortunately, Massey can blow the top off another mountain and increase production.  The coal industry uses the  equivalent of one Hiroshima atomic bomb a week in its campaign to destroy the oldest moutain range on earth in the name of profit.  Since mountain top removal already has massively reduced the need for humans the loss of a few miners will be no loss to the corporate bottom line.  However, the children of Montcoal will not find much comfort in such debits and credits.  

Forget, the shameful excuses that CEO Don Blankenship is tossing around. Oh, ok, so if we subtract this and divide that, we get to a number where you were only committing one violation a day. He smugly asserts that since one a day is the industry average, he and his corporation are without blame.

Well ok, you monster, I’ll accept your math. So your company is not worse than the average. Here sir is what that says to me. I want to assert that even if we believe Blankenship’s math, that one violation a day in fact proves that not only is he and his company at fault, but the entire coal industry is.

Why haven’t the coal corporations instituted effective safety measures – too costly? No, I can find no record of a coal mining corporation filing for bankruptcy due to insufficient profit. Now, I realize some subsidiaries have filed bankruptcy. But they did so only to shed the company’s responsibilities and avoid environmental and pension costs.

Has the government pushed too fast for reform and the companies cannot keep up? No, this is a ludicrous assertion actually. The US regulatory agencies responsible for mine safety have constantly watered down regulation under lobbying pressure. Not to mention the fact that every single regulation that has made its way into legislation has been thoroughly contested every step of the way in a review system that offers companies more chances to appeal than a murder suspect gets.

No, only one answer remains as to why coal companies have not instituted safety measures. That is cold capitalist calculation of profit versus cost. The mines simply look at their ongoing expenses on the one hand. These consist of lobbying and bribery expenses, court costs of legal actions and then the clean up by finally paying for some funerals and a public relations firm. These current costs are weighed in the profit and loss scale against the cost of instituting effective safety measures. The scale almost always points to the side with the most bodies in it. The honest fact is that dead miners cost less than safety.

Is it not time we stopped trading needless human tragedy for improved quarterly profit reports. If one violation of basic safety regulations a day is the industry norm, then the entire industry is immoral. I think simple investigation will also show them to be criminal. Mr. Blankeship himself is in fact already on record with several violations of election law in which he was busy buying judges and regulatory favor.  Okay, so we accept that the whole industry is corrupt and immoral - what is my answer?

Nationalize the entire industry. No compensation, no buyout - seize them wholesale on the basis of gross neglect of human rights, our environment and flagrant disregard of the law. They deserve no money for their property because the backlog of accumulated abuse will cost us billions to correct. Break the companies up into individual mine holdings that are owned 75% by the miners and 25% by the Government. Use the government’s share of profits to ensure proper remediation of the safety issues left unfixed over these decades of coal lords and king profit. These companies have been arrogantly disregarding regulation, law and morality for years. End it now.

This is 10 minutes that should help you decide should you be wavering Blankeship nightline Expose

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