Remember April 5, 2010 when an explosion in the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine near Montcoal, West Virginia killed 29 miners? In the aftermath of that explosion, various inquiries and news stories reported that the Massey Energy Co. which operated the mine had a woeful record of adhering to safety regulations. It was evident even to casual observers like myself that their number one priority was making money any way they could regardless of the danger to their employees.
Now an independent probe, which released its report today, has pretty much confirmed what we long suspected. Massey didn't give a fig about the safety of its workers. It was only concerned with corporate profits.
Haven't we heard this story before? Over and over again?
Here in Texas, one of the prime offenders has been BP which has repeatedly had fatal "accidents" at its refineries and has repeatedly been cited for violations and fined. And yet it seems to have no effect on their corporate culture. They continue to put concern for workers' safety somewhere far down the list of their priorities. For those of us who have paid attention to these stories, it was no surprise at all that the deep water oil platform that blew up last year in the Gulf, killing eleven men, was one of BP's.
And yet we continue to let these companies and others with equally deplorable records operate virtually unimpeded. And workers, desperate for jobs to support themselves and their families, take their lives into their hands every day when they report to work in these unsafe environments. But heaven forbid that these companies should actually be held accountable and forced to pay for their indifference to safety! That would be "regulation" and it is common wisdom that regulation kills jobs.
But common wisdom is not actually very smart, and the truth of the matter is that LACK of regulation kills workers. Corporations will not be good unless laws force them to be good.
Protecting the lives of its citizens is one of the jobs that we hire government to do. It is high time that government actually did its job and held corporations accountable for their bad behavior.