Thursday, January 05, 2006


Here's a question

If Malkin's so upset about cronyism, why the outrage at people complaining about Bush's gutting of the Mining Safety and Health Administartion (MSHA)? Two Democratic congresspeople say that the MSHA is nothing but cronies:
The [House Education and the Workforce] Committee should investigate whether the Bush Administration has employed people with proper regulatory experience in leadership positions at MSHA. Many senior MSHA officials have come directly from the mining industry, raising concerns about their ability to effectively oversee the industry and protect its workers...President Bush's first appointment to MSHA was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health David Lauriski, a long-time management official in the mining industry. In addition, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA John Caylor held management jobs with Cyprus Minerals Co., Amax Mining Co. and Magma Copper Co. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA John Correll served in management posts at Amax Mining and Peabody Coal companies. Special Assistant for MSHA Mark Ellis served as legal counsel to the American Mining Congress. And Chief of Health for Coal Melinda Pon was a management official at BHP Minerals-Utah International.
Et cetera, et cetera, et completely unsurprising cetera.

An editorial from the Charleston (WV) Gazette:
The exact cause of the explosion is yet to be determined. But the Sago mine had three roof falls since International Coal Group finalized its purchase in November. Altogether, the mine had a dozen roof falls during the last six months. The mine has an injury rate three times that of similar pits across the country. Last year, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration fined then-owner Anker West Virginia Mining Co. more than $24,000 for 200 alleged violations. MSHA issued 46 citations, including 18 considered “serious and substantial” for October through December. The company’s failings included violations regarding emergency escapeways and pre-shift safety exams. From July to September, MSHA found 70 violations, including 42 serious and substantial ones.

This mine operated amid growing laxity toward mine safety. After the Jim Walters No. 5 disaster in Alabama in September 2001, MSHA’s own internal review found that its inspectors did not make sure safety violations were fixed...

The Bush administration has taken a callous attitude toward the lives of coal miners. It has proposed cuts to MSHA’s budget and increases in the amount of coal dust miners can breathe. Its first MSHA director, Dave Lauriski, promoted “cooperative” enforcement of safety rules at the expense of actual enforcement. At least Lauriski came from a safety background within the industry. The current nominee for the job, Marion County native Richard Stickler, is an industry manager with questionable qualifications. He ran mines with injury rates twice the national average.
Malkin is properly outraged by the tragedy, but stops short of placing even some blame where it belongs.
And the always astute The Anchoress concludes:
Last night, while politics seemed far away from the awful scene in West Virginia - and we hope, for once, it remains so...
In the repeated pleas by right-wingers to "leave politics out of [whatever]" is a fundamental self-denial: Actions have consequences. Controversial? Only to right-wingers, who claim to be for personal responsibility - but you can't take responsibility without a belief in cause and effect.

Political decisions have clearly identifiable real-world effects. When should we examine that relationship, if not while those effects are on display most prominently?

Or, to put it another way, the "leave-politics-out-of-it" crowd is saying that correlation does not imply causation, or that if it does, that causation is irrelevant. The latter is breathtaking in its amorality.

As for the former, I would argue that there's a certain point at which the "correlation implies causation" fallacy stops being a fallacy and starts to become the elephant in the middle of the room that no one wants to talk about.

More precisely, the left wants to talk about it, the media doesn't want to talk about it, and the right just wants to talk about how the other two are talking too damn much.