Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hard Times Come Again

Bloomberg has this report on the Sago Mine being sited for 208 safety violations last year:

Phil Smith, the communications director for the United Mine Workers of America, in Washington, said the fines assessed for safety violations are too small to force large corporations to make improvements.

``We could get pulled over for speeding and pay more than that,'' said Smith, who said the Sago mine was non-union. ``The problem with the current laws is enforcement.''

This is exactly what the conservative plan is. If you can't outright repeal the laws, then just stop enforcing them. Atrophy, indeed. But it's even more dismaying the deeper you look. Here's what Bloomberg should have reported:

The politically connected billionaire investor who owns this mine is Wilber Ross, the man who strip-mined the once mighty Bethlehem Steel:

He's the ex-husband of Betsy McCaughey Ross, onetime Republican (she became a Democrat after falling out with Governor Pataki) Lieutenant Governor of New York. McCaughey Ross was a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the conservative anti-regulation thinktank. She became famous for a biting anti-government attack on the Clinton health care plan in The New Republic entitled No Exit.

No pun intended.

Wilbur Ross has become rich buying failing American industries out, and then using his government contacts to profit from their deaths. George Bush's mysterious foray into protectionism in his first term? It coincides with Ross's huge investments in the gasping American steel industry, which he pawned off on a foreign investor as the WTO over-ruled Bush and ordered the tariffs dropped. He plays the politicians, he plays the regulators, he plays the desperate unions, and in the end, he will not, I am sure, be held accountable for what happened in that shaft at the Sago mine. Wilbur Ross will never know what it is like to be on the short side of hard times. His friends in Washington will assure it. It's a great example of the ripe stew of business and government that the Republican leadership so cynically serves up these days.

And you thought elections were all about abortion and gay marriage!


Post a Comment

<< Home