Ace In The Hole: Rightbloggers Say Chile Mine Rescue Means Obama Sucks, Capitalism Rules

tomt200.jpgLast week we talked about the Tennessee fire department that let a man's house burn to the ground because he hadn't paid protection money, and the rightbloggers who thought this was a laudable example of free market justice.

This week they celebrated another free market triumph -- though at least this time it had to do with people being rescued rather than abandoned to their fates.

It began with Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal announcing to the world that the miners who were dramatically rescued last week after 69 days underground owed their escape from certain death to capitalism.

Actually, Henninger may have been inspired by the queen of the rightbloggers, Michelle Malkin. The day before Henninger's column, Malkin celebrated Jeff Hart, a drilling expert hired by the rescuers to operate the T130 drill that bored the rescue tunnel.

It was a nice tribute, or would have been were it not curiously infested with complaints about American liberals. "In a different day and age, Jeff Hart would be the most famous American in our country right now," Malkin claimed. "But because Jeff Hart works in an industry under fire by the Obama administration, more people in Chile will celebrate this symbol of American greatness than in America itself."

Actually Hart's role in the rescue has been extremely well-covered in the press (Sample: "Colo. Drillers Back From Chile to Heroes' Welcome," headlined the godless liberal Washington Post) , and it's hard to see how the Obama Administration could have prevented him from getting more ink if it wanted to. But never mind; Malkin's column was an early indicator that there was rightwing gold to be mined, so to speak, from the rescue story.

On Thursday Henninger began his column, "It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism."

His next paragraph was even weirder: "Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high."

Henninger threw in a bit about America's tea-partying "angry electorate" (seems they're involved with everything these days, even Chilean rescue operations!) before getting to the nitty-gritty:

"What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?" asked Henninger. "Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit." The bit was developed by Center Rock Inc. -- "a private company." In America. With 74 employees (a small business!). And it was "heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo" so you blue-state latte-swillers probably never heard of them, and you certainly wouldn't be interested to know that the drill bit was made "for the money, for profit." And so were the cables that were bringing up the miners, copper socks that don't stink, and other modern miracles.

minerleft.jpg
Thanks for saving me, Jesus Adam Smith!
Henninger restrained himself from declaring that, since Samuel Colt invented his revolver for money, capitalism causes police departments, but you get the idea: Everything good comes from the market. And Obama wants to kill the market by taxing the rich. Henninger hoped for "a new American economic model that lets our innovators rescue the rest of us" so we won't be killed like those miners would have been without capitalism.

Henninger admitted "some will recoil at these triumphalist claims for free-market capitalism." We wonder if he knows why. His trope is not so much an argument as a poetic fancy -- like the famous "for want of a nail, the shoe was lost" or "the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone" -- promoted beyond its usefulness. One might as well say that Chile would not exist in its present state if it were not for natural geological movements, and advance it as an argument that if we want to save its miners, we need cap-and-trade.

Also, against the provenance of the drill bit we may consider this: The copper mining company in charge of the operation is state-run (nationalized in the 70s, ironically, by Salvador Allende). It stepped in because the private company for whom the miners were working couldn't afford the rescue and had to be, so to speak, bailed out. Plus, the international cooperation that assisted the rescue included state agencies like NASA. Etc.

We might also say, as politely as we can, that the impulse to help those in mortal peril isn't one traditionally associated with the profit motive, at least not by normal people.

This didn't stop rightbloggers from running with the idea that the miners were rescued by the magic of the market rather than by any Golden Rule bullshit.

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16 comments
Windle
Windle

May I point out that the free-enterprise, capitalistic mining company responsible for the mine collapse did NOT rescue the miners, but the government mining department at great cost to the Chilean taxpayer!

RoughAcres
RoughAcres

Wow. And here I thought that the Chilean miners' story was one of democracy (they voted on every decision - no "super majority" needed, just a simple majority); cooperation, among all those below and above ground; unity (the whole country supported the rescue, no one kvetched about how it was being done, once a course was decided), courage (there was always the possibility the rescue would fail) and sheer... HOPE.

Capitalism? Well.... it made the rescue necessary, so I guess it is part of the story, after all.

Just like Republicans are part of the story of our current financial and employment situation, I suppose.

horatius
horatius

And tomorrow, McMegan will enlighten us all about how much better it will be for capitalism and the free market if the Chilean miners apply free market principles to the rescue and donate the proceeds of their book sales to the mining company (not the Chilean government who rescued them) to pay for the costs incurred in rescuing them.

Richard
Richard

Never p%$$ into the wind, throw rocks at superman, or argue economics with socialists.. but really.. true capitalists would demand the miners pay for their rescue, your bloggers are whimps.

Rachel
Rachel

They even joked about that the drill specialists of Chile should have done the drilling at the Gulf of Mexico. In that case there wouldn't have been such a desaster. Well isn't that a great compliment?

Jay B.
Jay B.

Man, I wish WE had a "CEO President" in the wake of disasters like 9/11 and Katrina! Things would have happened for the better! That much capitalism has foretold.

parsec
parsec

"Indeed, who can forget the crappy job U.S. military did at Ground Zero?"

Not to mention the deplorable conduct of those union moochers, the police and firefighters of NYC.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Daniel Henninger is getting dangerously into "my rock prevents tiger attacks" territory. Isn't it odd how people will unconsciously replace one magic sky god with another and never know it?

It's been pointed out that the Chilean miner's rescue was a great Rorschach's test on rationality, in that most American media claimed it was a miracle, and the rest of the world commented on the the fantastic application of applied sciences that helped rescue otherwise doomed men.

Belief in Capitalism has certainly crossed that faith-line. It can do no wrong and came down from on high, literally, to rescue these miners, who were certainly not working in some of the most inhospitable conditions in Earth due to the profit motive.

Susan of Texas
Susan of Texas

So to wrap it up, the mining company did not operate under safety rules and regulations, they would not rescue its own workers because they did not want to borrow/spend the money, and the government took over and successfully rescued the miners, which proves that free market capitalism is perfect as long as it is not regulated.

Every liberal should become a conservative at once, just so they can vote a higher caliber of Republican into office. The elite conservatives refuse to act because they'd rather have a crazy tea bagger in office than be on the losing side. The conservative poor end up giving money to upper class tea baggers so they can play politician. Meanwhile, bus services are cut, libraries are closed, roads are crumbling, and pensions and jobs are disappearing.

Working people are at work or looking for work and don't have time to play Paul Revere in a $50,000 recreation vehicle. They can't afford to travel to Nascar races let alone Washington, DC. The tea baggers don't care; they just want to get on tv and maybe on the government payroll if they're lucky.

StringonaStick
StringonaStick

China is a miners paradise because of excessive regulation; really? Do they want to hang their hat on something that easily disproved? China had over 2,600 mining deaths in 2009; the US had 34.

My old man's a mining engineer who has actually been to China; one of the things that absolutely appalled him was the near lack of personal safety equipment for the miners and the official disregard for safety and safe mine design.

China is far along the capitalist road these days, heading for the Galt's Gulch of work the proles until they drop/die for the greater wealthy of the mine/factory owners. Libertarian paradise!

StringonaStick
StringonaStick

Former geologist here, daughter of a mining engineer. Let's start with the easy targets, shall we? China's mining industry is plagued by a lack of regulations and safety rules, and a lack of the personal safety equipment that more regulated countries require; a quick look at the death rate of Chinese coal miners might be instructive for our libertarian friends. Their view of China is outmoded; if anything China is rocketing towards becoming a capitalist libertarian paradise.

I live in the same state as Malkin (CO), where the drillers were based when they aren't working as drilling contractors in Afghanistan drilling water wells (on the US dime no doubt - spongers! Humanitarians!). The story of their efforts and elevation to hero status has filled the TV and radio here but since Malkin only watches Faux News, she wouldn't know that.

And finally, my dad the mining engineer and serious Faux news fan is completely incensed by how poor in industrial and scientific knowledge the coverage of the disaster and rescue has been. Most interestingly, he singled out Faux as providing some of the worst coverage; seeing him admit to any flaw in anything on Faux news has been a revelation but I think the BS Beck is slinging has made him start to wonder if his favorite news channel isn't run by profit-hungry loonies.

R. Porrofatto
R. Porrofatto

I don't mean to seem churlish, but with a more, umm, universal application of his "reasoning," Henninger might have less ridiculously declared that this accident was caused by capitalism. The safety record of this private mining company was abysmal, with hundreds of violations and fines, 16 workers killed and hundreds of people injured just in the last few years. The mine was even shut down in 2007 due to lawsuits (executives were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a miner - they settled) and failure to comply with safety requirements. In contrast, Chile's state-run mining operations have a vastly better safety record.

I'm shocked that Henninger neglected to mention any of this. Perhaps he's still distracted by the triumph of capitalism in rescuing workers trapped by the cave-in of Bear Stearns.

Hungery Tallest Palin
Hungery Tallest Palin

Huston contrasted this to the Administration's behavior during the BP spill

Huston, Huston we have a problem.

A comparison to the Administration's response to recent mining disasters in the U.S. would have been far more appropriate. Why, he could have even referred to Capitalist Hero Rand Paul's theory of industrial mishaps.

Oh well, perhaps he forgot. I'm sure he isn't dishonest or anything.

Chris Vosburg
Chris Vosburg

Robert Goldberg even saw a profit motive in the rescue itself

Perhaps he refers to Oakley's classy product placement.

Oakley Sunglasses, preferred by nine out of ten trapped coalminers.

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