I was in an MSHA class this week and one of the subjects is a Federal laws passed called “miner’s rights.” Essentially its a law that guarantees that a company cannot fire or harass a person if he or she, in good faith, refuses to work in an unsafe environment. Likewise, the laws protect a person if they file a complaint on their company, or testify against their own company in a court. The instructor of our class mentioned that he had testified in court against his own company 8 times and has filed complaints against his own company 4 times and that he had no fear of reprisal due to these laws.
I confess I think laws like Miner’s Rights are a good thing. In fact, I think they are a great thing. Laws like Miner’s Rights is one of many reason why I can’t be an ideological Libertarian. From a purely ideological point of view, Libertarianism believes that government (and therefore laws) should only provide enforcement of contracts, punishments for people that performed an initial use of force, or for country defense. Sometimes they do throw in some very limited public goods. Sometimes they claim there is no need even for government owned fire engines and that the private sector can handle it better.
Such a philosophy would be against “Miner’s Rights” on the grounds that it’s unnecessary because capitalism will create equivalent or better regulations and environments on their own without government interference. For example, the mining companies will be forced to introduce their own superior safety standards and create their own ‘miner’s rights’ that they enforce internally because it’s the only way they can get the best talent to work for them. If they don’t, they can’t compete and they go out of business.
I confess, I just don’t believe it. Continue reading