13 May 2010

Eez not my fault

After reading this article on the coal mining disaster, EF wrote this:
The intriguing part of this article are the implicit assumptions.
  • Companies are bad
  • Government must protect workers
  • Government though hated for incompetence is the answer to disasters
  • Government must get bigger
  • Government (executive, legislative) is not to blame for any disasters
  • Penalizing oil companies has no effect on consumers or on the amount of oil imported
  • There is always an appropriate scape goat for a disaster.
  • The scape goat is not the government
  • The scape goat is a company, preferably a foreign company
  • Bad legislation is not the culprit even if the company followed the legislation and the legislation was not sufficient
  • The answer to all disasters is more government funding and employees
  • Increased oversight costs in the government has no effect on the health of the economy or on America's world wide competitiveness.
An economist who could speak the truth effectively might be a big plus.
Here's my [DZ's] small truth: Regulators and politicians have one answer for success "give us more money") and one answer for failure ("give us more money").

I have one answer for them: Do your job first. If you don't, we take your money.

Bottom Line: There needs to be penalty for a failure of businesses AND government. (Remember who really has market power here. It's not the company, it's the government with a monopoly on the use of force.)


  1. Dr. Zetland:

    Excellent point!

    The idea that the private sector is the only sector that fails is ridiculous. Both private and public sectors can and do fail. The overarching notion is that the private sector is the only sector in which failure occurs and to limit or stop failure is the responsibility of the public sector with the implicit assumption that the public sector doesn’t itself fail.

    Regarding the coal mine disaster, which is tragic, I happened to have paid for my education as an underground coal miner. Yep, I worked in the coal hole (in order to be hip, remember we workers call it the “coal hole” not a coal mine).

    The MESA people would show up from time to time. They were the ultimate bureaucrats. They’d give us heck for this and that and write up safety violations then leave. The violations many time were “perceived” by the MESA worker not something that we actually did. That is, they would say “you shouldn’t do this or that” when in fact we were no doing anything of the such. The section boss told myself and others to stay away from the MESA people as if you challenge their authority they get mad and just write up more violations. In other words, rather than being a partner in safety it was an adversary relationship. Did ask one MESA fellow one day why he wrote up so many violations every time he showed up. He told me: “Job security, sonny. More violations I write the more they need me”. Gezzz.

    Trust me, no one had more incentive in safety than myself and my fellow workers. The number one safety rule was “don’t get excited”. That is, think about what you are about to do and then do it. Never just react.

    Note: for your readers its white in an underground coal mine not black and no bats but plenty of rats.

  2. Great comment. Thanks. (Totally not surprised about the job security angle :)

  3. Dr. Zetland:

    If you ever have questions about continuous miner production regarding the production section on the face of the coal, feel free to ask. I’m no mining engineer and surely many know more about it than I, but can give you the mundane knowledge of everyday production. Can tell you some very interesting stories as well.

    By-the-way, the mine I worked in was mined out in 1989 and closed (1947-1989). No one was ever killed in that mine and the mine ranked #1 in production efficiency for years and years. The slag pile, slug ponds and portal areas were all reclaimed and if you drove by the areas today you would never know the mine existed.


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