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Was capitalism the hero in Chile -- or the villain?
Be skeptical of anyone saying the miners owe their lives to the unfettered marketplace, says James Downie in The New Republic
 
The last of the 33 rescued miners greets Chilean president Sebastian Pinera.
The last of the 33 rescued miners greets Chilean president Sebastian Pinera.
Corbis

Here is a doozy you might not have heard, says James Downie at The New Republic. Wall Street Journal deputy editor Daniel Henninger is hailing last week's Chilean miner rescue as "a smashing victory for free-market capitalism." He says the 33 men who spent 69 days underground would be dead if it hadn't been for a "miracle" drill bit that a Pennsylvania company, Center Rock Inc., developed because it hoped to use it to make money. But Henninger  conveniently ignores that the mine might not have collapsed and that the miners might never have been trapped if the profit-driven mine operator had focused more on safety. In fact, the company was "overwhelmed" by the accident — and broke — that the Chilean government had to take over the rescue. Here, an excerpt:

The point here is not to claim the rescue as a victory for statism. Far from it. Yes, the mine owners re-opened their mine before meeting safety standards because they wanted to start profiting again, but the Chilean government only had eighteen safety inspectors for the entire country. While business may have influenced that woefully inadequate number, the buck still ultimately stopped with the political leaders.  Neither the collapse nor the rescue can be solely attributed to capitalism or government. The credit, and the blame, lie with both.

Read the full article at The New Republic.

 

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