Saturday, April 10, 2010

Don Blankenship: Hoist By His Own Petard

Sad news out of West Virginia. A mine exploded, killing every miner inside, save two, one of which is still in intensive care. In the worst mining disaster in over a quarter of a century, 29 miners lost their lives. Hope turned to despair which faded into incredible loss and grief. Soon, this will be replaced with fury and demands of accountability and steely resolve.

So, our attention turns to Don Blankenship, the head cheese for Massey Energy. Now Don, ran the company like a real Don. He was known as a union buster who preferred to run things in a dictator like fashion. Employees did what they were told, or got fired. It was always a simple take-it-or-leave-it proposition with Don Corleone Blankenship.

Over the years Don has stacked up thousands of safety violations. Some fines he would pay, some fines he would fight, but always he would make political contributions in an effort to reign in those pesky regulators and perhaps round of some corners of the regulations.

In short, Don is the poster child for the Republican default position of anti-union, deregulation, open range capitalism.

And now, hanging over him is a cloud of criminally negligent homicide. Multiple counts. Depraved indifference due to the well-documented history of safety violations. Perhaps his legal team and political contributions will enable Don to avoid criminal prosecutions, but his civil liabilities will be unavoidable and enormous.

But the point is all of Don's struggles against unions and regulation, which he felt impeded the ability to run coal, and coal is what pays the bills, are the very things that would have prevented the Montcoal disaster and avoided what is in store for Don Blankenship.

At some point unions and regulations should be seen as a benefit and not a hinderance for industry Titans such as Don. It is my hope that Mr. Blankenship is totally ruined forever by this unfortunate and preventable disaster. Safe mines do not explode. Powerless employees either go home or go in. Organized labor have options that Don fought tooth and nail to prevent.

Because coal is what pays Don's bills. Hey Don, how much coal are you running now?

Cross posted at The Seminal.

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