These Guys Do What For a Living?

The New York Times has an editorial slamming the Administration for their

accommodation of the mining industry — notably by packing the mine safety agencies with pro-management appointees — has produced a marked decline in major fines for negligent companies. A recent data analysis by The Times documented a risky, business-friendly downturn in penalties since 2001.

Sadly, the professional journalists at the Times couldn’t so the five minutes of research that would have told them that – with the exception of an outlier to date this year – deaths under the Bush Administration are significantly lower than those under pro-labor Clinton.

Go back and read my old post (linked above) and marvel at the diligence of our national newspaper of record.

23 thoughts on “These Guys Do What For a Living?”

  1. In order to make that graph more meaningful, shouldn’t you divide the number of deaths by the total number of hours underground or similar?

  2. Also, one of the biggest complaints is that the operator had been frequently cited for repeated problems in many of its operations with only very minor fines and that the trend of the violations was getting more serious.

  3. “…one of the biggest complaints is that the operator had been frequently cited…”
    What? You mean while all those miners were dying during the Clinton Admin, they didn’t even issue warnings? Sad. Very sad.

  4. james taranto likes to makes fun of how the NYT is always mistified when the number of people in prison rises and the number of crimes committed go down. I guess this is version 2.0 of that.

  5. ya know, I sometimes get the feeling that the NYT starts with a conclusion and then writes their editorial around it.
    both this post and the ones at bizzyblog have, like, facts behind their conclusions. there are cites available and you can check them. the NYT has performed a “data analysis”. whatever that is.
    is there evidence of intelligent life in the NYT piece? they get paid for being slapdash? what’s the value-add for what they do?
    *shakes head in dismay*

  6. Mine safety isn’t the issue. The issue is looking tough and sticking it to the man.

    Wait a minute. Isn’t the NYT, “The Man”? So, they’re sticking it to themselves?

  7. My “Dar” is up, but this smacks of the NYT’s (and Dems) thinking it matters anymore and doing ANYTHING to help prop their co-defendants in the NSA leak investigation…ahem Rockefeller..ahem… Durbin

    If you google “Durbin”, you will find it odd today he advanced legislation for Illinois “mine safety”…funny, was Illinois on the front pages with mine accidents?

    Bonus laugher – Rockefeller hastily scheduled a “Homeland Security awareness” event in W.VA… the quotes are priceless

  8. Hey. We live in a postmodern world. Truth is now a subjective thing. If you hate Bush, nothing Democrats claim about him needs checking.

    This is called “Times Truth” Sometimes it conforms to everybody’s reality, sometimes it doesn’t. The same goes for MoveOn Truth and Skinhead truth.

  9. It is a very poor statistical analysis that attempts to make a political point of the number of deaths in the mining industry between the Clinton and Bush years when only the number of deaths are considered, not the rate of deaths based on the number of employed miner workers which have been showing a steady decline for many years. When the rate per worker formula is used there is no real difference between the two administrations. Less miners mean less accidents and deaths numerically, but not by rate which remains constant for some years.

    And common sense should also note that fatal accidents such as at the nonunion Sago Mine were entirely avoided in many Canadian mines because of the increased use of safe rooms, safety communications equipment, and more use of fire resistant materials. It was a Bush Administration backed proposal that prevented the use of fire resistant conveyor belts as a one example.

    Major coal industry executive appointments such coal mining industry lobby attorney, John Roberts, to the U.S. Supreme Court or the Mining Health & Safety Administration have more to do with increasing industry profits than any benefit to workers in this sometimes dangerous industry.

    It cannot be morally justified for profit sake that very reasonable safety standard improvements in U.S. mines to match the far safer Canadian mines are not used. But while 16 U.S. miners lost their lives in January, 16 Chinese miners lose their lives each day where safety standards are far worse. There is a real relationship about how little effort is put into mine safety and the rate of accidents.

    Also it was a bankruptcy judge who removed the union at the troubled Sago Mine, so no worker job protection for safety related complaints or recommendations existed. This may have been a factor in that many of the fines for the 18 roof falls and other safety violations of this mine in the last year only occured after the event. With no job protection for nonunion workers, most workers will not complain about mine safety violations which remain unfixed until something serious happens or a mining inspector finds the problem. Most fines were only about $60, hardly any incentive to repair potential deadly problems.

  10. It’s a very poor blog comment that criticizes someones use of numbers without providing their own. If it is your contention that death per employee is the relevent statistic, then get off your @ss Paul and give us those numbers. Nothing more annoying than reading talking points from someone who sings “Oh Canada” with one hand on his wanker.

  11. Paul, if you’ll click through the trackback from Bizzyblog, you’ll see that he’s done just that – and that the death rate per 200,000 hours worked went from .0392 in 2000 to .0273 in 2004.

    Could there be better mine safety? Of course. But it’s ludicrous to compare US standards to those in Canada or the EU (entirely different regulatory and political environments) and blame that on a change in Administrtaions.

    A.L.

  12. Actually the true metric would be deaths per millions tons extracted, not deaths per hours worked. Highway statistics should be reported the same way: deaths per million miles.

  13. “Looking tough and sticking it to the man” is an awkward summation of what the NYT thinks that govt should do. The NYT wants a govt that fines mining companies, that looks tough and sticks it to the man. The NYT doesn’t care about mine safety.

  14. It is a very poor statistical analysis that attempts to make a political point of the number of deaths in the mining industry between the Clinton and Bush years when only the number of deaths are considered, not the rate of deaths based on the number of employed miner workers which have been showing a steady decline for many years. When the rate per worker formula is used there is no real difference between the two administrations. Less miners mean less accidents and deaths numerically, but not by rate which remains constant for some years.

    Well based on the numbers from the trackback which show that the fatal injury per 200,000 hours work in the last year of the Clinton administration was .0398 and the most current numbers from 2004 put them at .0273, that’s a thirty percent decrease. Not exactly a constant rate IMO but since we’re (thankfully) talking about a relatively small number of deaths, it’s easy to see how one accident that kills a dozen miners could throw the numbers off.

    And common sense should also note that fatal accidents such as at the nonunion Sago Mine were entirely avoided in many Canadian mines because of the increased use of safe rooms, safety communications equipment, and more use of fire resistant materials.

    Common sense would also note that the fatal accidents which occurred at the Sago Mine were also entirely avoided in . . . well pretty much every American mine where the same type of fatal accident didn’t occur.

    It was a Bush Administration backed proposal that prevented the use of fire resistant conveyor belts as a one example.

    Here’s the actual report from the Mine Safety and Health Administration:
    http://www.msha.gov/REGS/FEDREG/PROPOSED/2002PROP/02-17652.HTM

    Basically the main concern with fires caused by conveyors belts were that a fire could spread before it could be put out and the primary health hazard was smoke inhalation. During the time that the problem was studied, alternative solutions were developed by the industry in the form of improved environmental monitoring (thereby alerting workers earlier if there was a fire as well as alerting them to problems of CO2 and methane concentrations), technological changes that reduced the amount of friction on a conveyor belt (the primary cause of fires) and the industry’s practice of ventilating active working places through the belt haulageway (which also lead to improvements in monitoring). Also the number of fires that were caused by conveyor belts dropped from 3.4 per year to 1 per year.

    That’s not to say that the idea may not have some merit (I’d have to know more about the cons as well as the pros to say for sure) but it should be noted that the problem decreased dramatically as a result of the industry using other practices that were more effective in reducing the problem.

    Major coal industry executive appointments such coal mining industry lobby attorney, John Roberts, to the U.S. Supreme Court or the Mining Health & Safety Administration have more to do with increasing industry profits than any benefit to workers in this sometimes dangerous industry.

    Except that worker safety seems to have improved dramatically in part because the administration (this is noted in the earlier report I referenced) was more willing to cooperate with companies to come up with more cost-effective solutions that they monitored and verified were working rather than simply try to make themselves look good by acting tough with little substantial result.

    I say bully for them. Worker safety much like environmental protection is a legitimate concern of government but regulations aren’t the only tool for getting the job done and often they aren’t the best tool. When then Governor Bush ran for President in 2000 and was asked about regulations, he said he was “results oriented” while his opponent was screaming (literally) about wanting to “go after” companies. I’m glad to see that the more constructive approach is yielding positive results in the area of mine safety and hope it can be expanded and improved in other areas – particularly in speeding up the approval of generic prescription drugs.

  15. Maybe the death rate is lower, but, certainly, level of freedom has dropped a lot and terrorism is just an excuse for this state of fact. Firms are more and more fewer liberties of action and they do not have as much power as they should.

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