Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mining for the truth

SOYMB came across this article by Mike Ely which made many pertinent observations about the recent mining "accident" in West Virginia , USA .

The article begins by aptly comparing coverage of the many Chinese mining disasters that there has been in recent years with the reporting of this one .
"...the U.S. media has a tsk-tsk tone that suggests how little human life is valued “in the Orient,” and that (subliminally) reminds the viewers that this cheapness of life and labor in China... that “if only” the Chinese had regulation and inspection (read: like the U.S.) then this would be averted."

The article went on to say :-
"...Few human activities are as regulated as mining in the U.S. The books of law and procedure are massive. After many thousands of deaths and injuries, after waves of technological invention — it is well known how to avoid disaster. The methane, even in a gassy mine, can be blown out of the workings by directed air flow. Sparks can be denied explosive materials. Coal dust can be sprinkled with water (as it flies in the air), and removed (when it falls to the ground)...Once again the officials will call for new regulations. Governors, senators, and mine officials will step before the cameras with solemn faces and embrace the newly-made widows. Some laws will pass. Miners will be required to attend lectures. And so on, and so on… The system will display concern and paper reform.

The simple fact is that Massey’s Upper Big Branch (like in the flooded Wangjialing coal mine) is governed by capitalism. And the rules and laws will be ignored over and over again. Those who report violations will be targeted and often fired. (I’ve been there personally, including for refusing to keep silent about an unreported gas explosion that licked us with flames.)

The routine of everyday life will (loosely, loosely) conform to a minimum of safety — but it will always break down under pressure of production.

The simple rule of capitalism is that, ultimately, human social production is privately owned. Society is shattered into competing centers of profit. And that competition (especially in raw material like coal) is not about packaging, or advertising, or unique features but cheapness and efficiency of production. The drive for production is refracted through a thousand decisions at a dozen levels — from the board rooms to the working mine face. And the daily result is crippled workers, exhausted bodies, diseased lungs and then in shocking moments that long line of blackened bodies lifted from below, passing by their heart-sick and angry families.

And that story — of capitalism’s role in this — will simply be suppressed or denied, as the media (once again) focuses on the religious faith of mining communities (made quaint by urbane TV anchors) and the practiced outrage of indifferent officials (who are wholly owned by energy monopolies).

...Conditions in the mines are caused by capitalism...

...Capitalism is at fault in China and it is at fault Upper Big Branch...

...We must raise our voices more forcefully and skillfully to expose the workings and nature of this capitalist system, we must find the ways (together!) to break through the cunning white noise of the media machinery, and to honor our dead while defiantly indicting their killers..."

Full Article at link

No comments: