In April, two miners were killed at the Dotiki Mine in Western Kentucky after the mine’s roof collapsed. The non-union mine had been cited for 840 safety violations by federal inspectors since 2009, and the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or to shut down equipment during the same period. But when asked about the incident, Kentucky’s Republican Senate candidate, Rand Paul, said “we come in and it’s always someone’s fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen.”
So Paul doesn’t see the need to assess what caused a fatal mine accident, and it turns out that he also doesn’t believe that the federal government has any responsibility at all to set safety standards that protect mine workers:
“The bottom line is: I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules,” Paul said at a recent campaign stop in response to questions about April’s deadly mining explosion in West Virginia…“You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You’d try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don’t, I’m thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.” “I know that doesn’t sound…I want to be compassionate, and I’m sorry for what happened, but I wonder: Was it just an accident?”
As Steve Benen put it, “Paul is running on a platform of ignorance — he’s not qualified to shape federal policy, so send him to Washington, where federal policy is written, so he can avoid shaping federal policy.” But this is just another logical conclusion stemming from Paul’s version of extreme libertarianism.
After all, he has also said that he wants to abolish the Americans with Disabilities Act because it’s not “fair to the business owner,” and that the portion of the Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination at private businesses was wrong because “I do believe in private ownership.” Paul seems to believe that any business regulation, at all, is inappropriate.
Of course, the notion that the free market will magically create a safe working environment is nonsense: more likely is a that race to the bottom will ensue, as companies look for more and more ways to cut corners to gain a competitive advantage. Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, for instance, where 29 workers were killed earlier this year, was cited for thousands of safety violations at the time of its fatal incident. Would all that have been taken care of voluntarily by a company that dismissed safety regulators, calling them “as silly as global warming?”
As Amanda Terkel pointed out, a bunch of dirty coal groups lobbying for looser regulations have banded together to form a 527 to elect industry-friendly Republicans. One of the candidates they intend to back is, of course, Rand Paul.