Friday, January 13, 2006

Priorities

Heard this on Randi Rhodes just now. Mine safety has been slipping under Bush.
At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company a scant $440 for a "significant and substantial" violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died earlier this week.

The $440 fine remains unpaid.

...

The analysis shows:
  • The number of major fines over $10,000 has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2001. The dollar amount of those penalties, when adjusted for inflation, has plummeted 43 percent to a median of $27,584.
  • Less than half of the fines levied between 2001 and 2003 - about $3 million - have been paid.
  • The budget and staff for the enforcement office also have declined, forcing the agency to make do with about 100 fewer coal mine enforcement personnel.
  • In serious criminal cases, the number of guilty pleas and convictions fell 54.8 percent since 2001. In the first four years of the Bush administration, the federal government has averaged 3.5 criminal convictions a year; in the four years before that the average was 7.75 per year.


Randi put it in perspective by comparing it to Howard Stern, who, during his career on commerical radio, was fined $2.5 million dollars by the FCC over his career for talking about toilets and boobies.

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