A Comparison of a Coal Mining Company to an Autocracy
A tragic event occurred on April 5, 2010 in Montcoal, West Virginia. Twenty-nine miners went underground on the morning of April 5, 2010, similar to every work day, except this morning was their last. Upper Big Branch Mine was owned and operated by Massey Energy Corporation, a company that never took other people’s lives and families into consideration.
The disastrous explosion could have easily been prevented if Massey Energy Company followed the necessary safety measures that were invented to prevent deaths and accidents. The Massey Energy Company was responsible for “the most killed in a U.S. mine since a 1970 explosion killed 38 at Finley Coal Co., in Hyden, Ky.”Since 1988, three miners have died in the Upper Big Branch Mine. “The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration cited the Upper Big Branch for 1,342 safety violations from 2005 through Monday (April 5, 2010), proposing $1.89 million in fines, according to federal records.”
“That record is a sign that they are not fixing their safety problems, said Celeste Monforton, a former senior official at the Mine Safety and Health Administration. It is not unusual for a mine to receive a substantial number of citations, she said, but the recent violations involving the mine's ventilation system are a red flag. It's a signal that something is not right there, something is going wrong at that mine." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/04/05/AR2010040503877.html
Michelle McKinney, daughter of 62-year-old Benny R. Willingham, who died in the blast that devastated many families, found out about the death of her father from a local official at a school near the mine, who stated. “They’re supposed to be a big company," "These guys, they took a chance every day to work and make them big. And they couldn't even call us" (Pitney).
If Tocqueville were alive today, he would likely suggest that although the Massey Energy Company is under a democratic government, the system of hierarchy by which it operates is similar to that of an aristocracy, which resulted in a lack of concern for the workers, a limitation of their freedom due to their limited skills and lack of other work opportunities in the area.
Tocqueville believes that the world of the master and the slave are two completely different worlds.
“Not only are the rich not compactly united among themselves, but there is no real bond between them and the poor. Their relative position is not a permanent one; they are constantly drawn together or separated by their interests. The workman is generally dependent on the master, but not on any particular master; these two men meet in the factory, but do not know each other elsewhere; and while they come into contact on one point, they stand very far apart on all others. The manufacturer asks nothing of the workman but his labor; the workman expects nothing from him but his wages. The one contracts no obligation to...