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Congress has introduced a resolution entitled “The Miners Safety & Health Act of 2010” that threatens to devastate the mining industry. This legislation creates burdensome new regulations and begins a government takeover of mine management. Defeating this legislation is essential to preserving the industry and the market forces that drive it.
New rules will overwhelm the industry, and the punishments for failing to comply with minor regulations will be disproportionate. The focus will shift from safety to blind compliance; actual safety standards will not improve. This type of legislation encourages the crony corporatism that has aided in creating recent disasters like the BP oil spill. Such regulations create a moral hazard by reducing the company’s liability for disasters. There will be no incentive for safety innovation because it will not be worth the hassle of dealing with the intricate government policies. Innovation will be replaced by compliance with government created standards.
The legislation also authorizes more government involvement in hiring and firing decisions, a clear example of needless market interference. Quite simply, this is a government takeover—perhaps well-intended, but misguided. The rule-making process outlined by the bill allows the agency to create standards and regulations without any advance notice or input from miners. Without predictability, the miners and the companies they work for will not be able to accomplish their work. Investors will not invest in the industry if they fear unbridled encroaching regulation. In a time when the economy is struggling and jobs are critical, this legislation will clearly dampen productivity and the economic recovery.
The Miners Safety & Health Act of 2010 is yet another example of a government takeover masked by the name of “safety.” The bill deserves defeat based on its violation of basic economic principles and its failure to achieve the ends of better safety regulations.