Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger (also quoted at Power Line) observed that without capitalism the miners would still be in the hole:
If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on Earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?
Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit.
The Center Rock drill … is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit [Great Zeus! Such unmitigated greed is disgusting.] That’s why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.
This profit equals innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany. Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above. (Emphasis and snide bracketed comment added.)
There were other fruits of the profit motive: a cellphone with its own projector, and socks made with copper fiber to consume bacteria and minimize odor and infection. Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich said: “I never realized that kind of thing actually existed.” He works for Chilean President Piñera who, as Tim Daniel writes, is the kind of president America needs:
[Pinera] turned to his worldview and belief in the ability of any market — even in crisis — to meet a demand. He turned to his illustrious career in business. He drew together international minds on mining, geology, and science. He consulted America’s own NASA, which devised the “Phoenix” capsule that retrieved the men and a rocket-science, space-age diet to inhibit claustrophobic nausea during their nearly half-mile ascent to the earth’s surface.
Beyond this, Piñera and our own President Barack Obama could not be more polar opposite. Obama is a man motivated by something mostly unfamiliar to [North] Americans — redistributive anger and envy.
In President Sebastián Piñera’s shoes, Barack Obama would have undeniably acted much differently. He would have turned to his “community organizing” background and been hamstrung by his naive and far-left, us-versus-them philosophical roots. He would have been paralyzed by a toxic combination of arrogant professorial theory and lack of real-world executive experience. He would have attacked the mining company for the entire 69-day affair. He would have done so right off the bat. He would have copped out and stuck to a rigid, defeatist, backwards ideology. And in his failing, he would have put responsibility on everyone around him, except himself.
Henninger concluded with a useful comparison of the Chilean mine disaster recovery and the BP well blowout, Hurricane Katrina, and various disasters in China: “What’s needed now is a new American economic model that lets our innovators rescue the rest of us.” I quarrel with the adjective “new” — the capitalist model is far from new — but otherwise agree. (Here is disheartening but nevertheless realistic and humorous speculation about how such a mine disaster would be handled in the United States under the Obama administration; it is excessively optimistic but otherwise right on.)
Scott at Powerline continues the thought:
Absent government interference, the [Chilean] rescue was not only flawless — it took less time than expected. Compare the speed and efficiency of the Chilean operation to, say, the government’s response to the BP oil spill. The administration, abiding regulations and chain of command inured to one way of doing things, requiring a test before introducing a new technology, made matters worse before they got better. Ultimately the Gulf response was organized around the belief that resources are finite and that government must regulate human activities to protect the commons.
The federal government, with all of its power and its numerous czars, departments, and alphabet agencies (with the former exception of NASA, now ghosting along rather aimlessly) doesn’t do these things. It instead retards innovation, and a governmental paradigm shift is needed.
President Obama will not change his basic outlook between now and January of 2013, no matter what happens on November 2, 2010. He will remain “steadfast to the last” to his fundamental and flawed premises; he will still have lots of power to bring about at least some of his objectives to fruition.
A national paradigm shift is possible only if We the Peons continuously remind our masters (as they apparently deem themselves) that they lease rather than own their power, that a truly free market with minimal governmental interference is needed, and that if they don’t get cracking and bring it about they can and will be evicted.
It will take time and effort to overcome governmental inertia and to make President Obama’s paradigm irrelevant; but it very simply has to happen. If it does not, we are likely to find our country in an even worse pickle than at present. We the Peons must, absolutely must, remain involved with a level of commitment at least comparable to that demonstrated during the lead up to the November 2010 election. There is no other way.