house burn to the ground because he hadn't paid protection money, and
the rightbloggers who thought this was a laudable example of free market justice.
This week they celebrated another free market triumph -- though at least
this time it had to do with people being rescued rather than abandoned
to their fates.
It began with Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal
announcing to the world that the miners who were dramatically rescued
last week after 69 days underground owed their escape from certain death
Actually, Henninger may have been inspired by the queen of the rightbloggers, Michelle Malkin.
The day before Henninger's column, Malkin celebrated Jeff Hart, a
drilling expert hired by the rescuers to operate the T130 drill that
bored the rescue tunnel.
It was a nice tribute, or would have been were it not curiously infested
with complaints about liberals. "In a different day and age, Jeff Hart
would be the most famous American in our country right now," Malkin
claimed. "But because Jeff Hart works in an industry under fire by the
Obama administration, more people in Chile will celebrate this symbol of
American greatness than in America itself."
, and it's hard to see how the Obama Administration could have
prevented him from getting more ink if it wanted to. But never mind;
Malkin's column was an early indicator that there was rightwing gold to
be mined, so to speak, from the rescue story.
On Thursday Henninger began his column, "It needs to be said. The rescue
of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market
His next paragraph was even weirder: "Amid the boundless human joy of
the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is
churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high."
Henninger threw in a bit about America's tea-partying "angry electorate"
(seems they're involved with everything these days, even Chilean rescue
operations!) before getting to the nitty-gritty:
"What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between
life and death for those men?" asked Henninger. "Short answer: the
Center Rock drill bit." The bit was developed by Center Rock Inc. -- "a
private company." In America. With 74 employees (a small business!) And
it was "heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo" so
you blue-state latte-swillers probably never heard of them, and you
certainly wouldn't be interested to know that the drill bit was made
"for the money, for profit." And so were the cables that were bringing
up the miners, copper socks that don't stink, and other modern miracles.
Thanks for saving me, Jesus Adam Smith!
restrained himself from declaring that, since Samuel Colt invented his
revolver for money, capitalism causes police departments, but you get
the idea: Everything good comes from the market. And Obama wants to kill
the market by taxing the rich. Henninger hoped for "a new American
economic model that lets our innovators rescue the rest of us" so we
won't be killed like those miners would have been without capitalism.
Henninger admitted "some will recoil at these triumphalist claims for
free-market capitalism." We wonder if he knows why. His trope is not so
much an argument as a poetic fancy -- like the famous "for want of a nail, the shoe was lost"
or "the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone" -- promoted beyond
its usefulness. One might as well say that Chile would not exist in its
present state if it were not for natural geological movements, and
advance it as an argument that if we want to save its miners, we need
Also, against the provenance of the drill bit we may consider this: The copper mining company in charge of the operation is state-run
(nationalized in the 70s, ironically, by Salvador Allende). It stepped
in because the private company for whom the miners were working couldn't afford the rescue
and had to be, so to speak, bailed out. Plus, the international
cooperationd that assisted the rescue included state agencies like NASA. Etc.
We might also say, as politely as we can, that the impulse to help those
in mortal peril isn't one traditionally associated with the profit
motive, at least not by normal people.
This didn't stop rightbloggers from running with the idea that the
miners were rescued by the magic of the market rather than by any Golden
An unsigned Washington Examiner
editorial echoed Malkin's claim that "President Obama is apparently so
invested in demonizing American free enterprise that it never occurred
to him to give credit where it's due." They also attacked
environmentalists whom they said "rarely miss an opportunity to
criticize the American energy industry for a lengthy litany of supposed
evils," and predicted that, "if the polls are right, that will change
Nov. 2," and endangered miners will no longer have to live in fear of
made an even more extravagant claim: The Chilean miners "have to be
joyful" that they "aren't miners trapped in an American mine during
Obama's presidency. If they had been, they'd still be down there unable
to wipe the tears from their loved one's faces."
How did he figure that? Because "Chile's President, Sebastián Piñera,
famously set aside the bureaucracy of his country's regulations" and
"threw open his arms and accepted help from as many interested nations
as possible..." Huston contrasted this to the Administration's behavior
during the BP spill, when "Obama and his administration spent more time
pointing fingers, blaming people and corporations, and proposing hasty
and unnecessary new regulations..."
This horrible Obama statist approach, you may remember,
led to the loss of zero lives after the initial explosion, the creation
of an escrow fund for parties suffering damages, and the sealing of the
broken oil pump. But Huston's got a point: If miners had been trapped
at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, they'd probably be dead today.
Other rightbloggers agreed Obama had made a terrible botch of the Gulf spill. "Obama was tried and found wanting," said RedState.
"He really looks and acts tepid. His once soaring rhetoric has a
desperate tone behind it." Looking through their magic mirror, RedState
saw that Americans "cannot help but think back to Barack Obama's
faltering, grudging response to the gulf oil spill, which he used as an
excuse for shutting down our drilling nationwide with a phony
moratorium." In contrast, the Chilean President isn't going to let a
little thing like a cave-in make him close down this productive mine as
unsafe -- oh wait, yes he is. Well, he certainly isn't tepid!
in which he denounced the federal government's efforts right after the
9/11 World Trade Center attacks. "'Private maritime operators kept their
vessels onsite and available until Friday, Day Four, when federal
authorities took over.' 'Day Four, when federal authorities took over.'
There's a lesson in that phrase, isn't there?" Indeed, who can forget
the crappy job U.S. military did at Ground Zero? It's a miracle we
didn't have a Tea Party in 2001.
Others tried to give Chile's President Sebastian Pinera the Carly Fiorina treatment. American Thinker's Anthony Kang
quoted columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady: "What you have in Chile is a
president who was once an executive at a very large corporation. He
knows how to take charge -- and he knows how to execute." We bet his
sleeves are always rolled up, too. Also, "Sebastian Piñera is the
brother of Jose Piñera," said Kang, "the architect of Chile's private
pension system and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute,"
proving that capitalism is genetic.
Kang also declared that there are a lot of mining accidents in China,
which is exactly the sort of state into which liberals want to turn
America, and this proved that "you can cry for bigger government, but
all you'll get is more regulation, more corruption, more inefficiency,
more disasters -- along with an economy crippled by regulation, should progressives have their way."
even saw a profit motive in the rescue itself: "The $20 million spent
to rescue the miners," he said, "will generate greater wealth and longer
life for thousands and millions of people in the years ahead." He
didn't say how he knew this -- maybe capitalism came to him in the night
and whispered it in his ear.
Maybe the role of capitalism was best seen in the aftermath of the
rescue, as the miners held back details of their ordeal, presumably in
anticipation of a book deal -- though they reportedly want to "fairly divide the spoils of their media stardom" among their numbers, so maybe it's really all about socialism!
Rescue operations always engender tons of hoopla, and not all of it is
high-minded or sober -- recall the great Billy Wilder film Ace in the Hole,
and the cheesy stories, roadside businesses, and other money schemes
the sprang up around the trapped man's ordeal. But this is the first
time we can recall that the racket built on a rescue had to do with
politics in an unrelated country. Clearly over the years our standards
have declined. And, we fear, they're only going to get worse.