Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean Miners

I generally avoid cable news, but I turned it on a few minutes ago to watch the 33rd Chilean miner reach the surface. Good news? The best! But what did cable news — even MSNBC — miss?

I was struck by the contrast between the Chilean mining accident and the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The owners of the San Jose mine were conspicuously absent from the scene. The Chilean government moved right in, took over, and simultaneously initiated three separate rescue plans. Plan "B" turned out to be most efficient.

When the Deepwater Horizon blew, the government of the United States turned to BP and said, "Uh, well, do something about it." BP, of course, tried just one plan at a time, beginning with the cheapest. It's a damned good thing for those Chilean miners that they were at the bottom of a hole in Chile rather than in the United States.

Now that the miners are free, Chile is ready to charge the mine owners with safety violations. Nobody is talking about a cap on liability.

Sometimes government is the right answer.

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