Ace In The Hole: Rightbloggers Say Chile Mine Rescue Means Obama Sucks, Capitalism Rules
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.
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.
Thanks for saving me, Jesus Adam Smith!
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.