August 09, 2007


Once again, pardon the irregular posts (and the absence of the usual gratuitous animal picture). That's life on the road.

As is the case with many interested people all over the world, I'm finding it hard not to think about the trapped miners in Utah and about the larger issues of worker safety.

Recently in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, there's been a lot of talk about "unleashing capitalism." Two things that some people are calling for are reducing regulation of industries like mining and so-called "tort reform."

Here's the reality. Workers in dangerous occupations like mining depend for their very lives on vigorous enforcement and improvement of safety regulations. And when that fails, the only recourse for injured workers and their families--or for survivors if fatalities are involved--is legal action against negligent companies.

Take away both and you have the perfect recipe for death on the job.



Anonymous said...

Do you agree with any of the specific policy changes that the Unleashing Capitalism crew has made other than their desire to end corporate welfare?

El Cabrero said...

Good question!

There are parts that I agree with, especially the main idea that a decentralized capitalist economy is better than a centralized planned one.

As you mentioned, I thought the critique of subsides was the strongest part.

In general I think it's fine to look at specific ways of reforming taxes, etc., as long as you look at all the long term consequences.

However, for a capitalist economy to work at its best, you also need investments in public goods, a degree of regulation, policies that promote shared prosperity, and ways of dealing with externalities or things that don't show up on the corporate bottom line.

Basically, in my old age I'm skeptical of any kind of utopian worldview, whether of the right or left.