"The hard-working miners, their dangers are great/Many while mining have met their sad fate/While doing their duties as miners all do/Shut out from the daylight and their darling ones, too." Only a Miner – Traditional, author unknown
What’s a dollar worth to you? Cup of coffee, maybe a few sticks of gum. It’s just money, right? I know, I know, those of us lucky enough to have a job these days certainly work hard enough to scratch out what living we can make. So what’s a dollar worth to you? Cup of coffee? A few sticks of gum? A human life?
Well, we all know a human life is worth more than a dollar; in fact if we use the dollar amount of unpaid safety violations by Massey Energy company ($1.1 million in unpaid fines) we could argue that a human life is worth roughly just more than $380,000.
A step backwards: I presume to assume that at this point we all know who Massey Energy is. For the sake of clarity, Massey Energy is the owner of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, which recently had a catastrophic failure killing 29 coal miners.
According to reporting done by the Louisville Courier Journal, since 2006, Massey Energy has been fined to the tune of $1.7 million for safety violations at the Upper Big Branch Facility, $1.1 million of which has gone unpaid as the company’s lawyers file appeal after appeal up the flag pole getting temporary stays. But that’s not the worst of it.
In a report issued by the House Education and Labor Committee, Massey Energy has appealed more citations by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration than any other mining operation in the country in 2009: 3,741 or roughly eight percent of all violations. Included in these violations were orders that would have shut down the Upper Big Branch mine, 16 of them in fact, every single one of them appealed and held up in the court process.
See, here’s what makes me so damn angry when I hear people getting all up in arms about government regulation — we’ve created a system that allows the foxes to guard the chicken coop, what with Congressional hallways chock full of industry titans making sure that whatever legislation is passed is watered down. The net affect is some PR flack can get on the air and talk about all the improvements to safety that have been made while somewhere in the back of his head, that same PR flack knows not a damn thing has changed!