Thursday, April 08, 2010

When Does It Become a Crime?

The Upper Big Branch mine had over 1,300 safety citations from mine inspectors in the few years leading up to last week's catastrophe that left at least 25 miners dead. No matter what the Supreme Court says, companies aren't people; they're legal fictions intended to allow the institution to enter into contracts and own property and assets.

Massey Energy didn't violate mine safety standards: people working under the auspices of Massey Energy did. For every violation cited, at least one person was responsible for its creation, or at least for not taking proper care of it. The company's repeated fines are accepted as part of the cost of doing business.

I want the responsible individuals--not only those who made the decisions, but also those who implemented them--held responsible. At the very least, the shareholders who approve of these actions through their silence should require management to answer for this, but I cannot fathom why criminal charges aren't forthcoming, or weren't brought earlier, before the accident. (At what point does gross negligence of safety standards force us not to call such an incident an accident?)

One more thing. For anyone who wonders why we need unions, this is why.

1 comment:

Charlieopera said...


I like that Obama is having this investigated. I just hope it isn't more grandstanding (like repealing don't ask/don't tell and bank regulations) ... more talk for the sake of temporary polling.

This is why we need unions and although we may find out some union officials "may be" complicit in letting their members into that mine, it doesn't mean unions should go, it means those guilty of looking the other way (on both sides of the issue) need to be thrown off a fucking skyscraper.

And if that's too radical, buried alive.