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October 17, 2010
If the Chilean Mine Had Been in Colorado
- Satire -
Watching with moist eye the rescue of the thirty-three miners from the collapsed San Jose mine in Copiopo, Chile I found myself inspired by the sense of purpose and pride displayed by the actors in this all too real life drama. The unbending commitment of each and every Chilean and foreign national involved in rescue operation was genuinely heartwarming. I saw in the president and people of Chile the highest of human instincts, a willingness to come together and help their fellow countrymen in a time of acute need.
It is an instinct that is shared by the citizens of the United States, an innate quality imbedded in the DNA of every American. Or is it? What if Copiopo was located on the western slope of Colorado? Would the story have played out in the same manner? Would the spirit of the American citizen have been dampened by the wet blankets of bureaucracy and political correctness?
Here-to-with, a hypothetical chronology.
News Bulletin (Developing): A collapse occurred this morning in the San Jose copper mine is western Colorado. The cause of the collapse and the status of thirty-tree miners working 2,300' below the surface are unknown.
Two Hours Later: The White House issues a statement acknowledging the incident. President Obama expresses his concern and notes that the miners and their families are in his thoughts and prayers. He directs all federal agencies to provide immediate assistance.
Day 1: Press Secretary Robert Gibbs meets with the White House press corps. When queried about the possible cause of the collapse he indicates that it is likely the result of the lax enforcement of mine safety rules by the previous administration.
Day 2: There has been no communication with the trapped miners. The Director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration holds a press conference in Copiopo, Colorado. He suggests that while hope for the rescue of the miners is slim, his agency will continue to study all available options. He announces a criminal investigation that will leave no stone unturned regarding potential safety violations at the San Jose mine.
Day 5: The operators of the San Jose Mine begin drilling a small diameter hole to a location where the miners may have sought refuge. Other mining companies deliver equipment and personnel to assist in the operation.
Day 12: Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean is a guest on Meet the Press and suggests that the Bush Administration and the Republican Party have conspired to circumvent, dilute, and repeal every worker safety law ever enacted, the recent growth in the scope and influence of OSHA not-with-standing.
Day 17: The news that everyone had hoped for, but that few actually believed, is broadcast to the world. A hole has been drilled to a void more than two thousand feet below the surface. The trapped miners have been found and they are alive!
Day 18: A team of mine experts develops a plan to drill a larger diameter hole, one big enough to implement a rescue operation.
Day 19: EPA Director Carol Browner reports that the construction of a road to the proposed bore location will require an Environmental Impact Statement. She promises an expedited review, one that perhaps could be completed within 60 to 90 days.
Day 21: Germany offers to provide the most advanced high-speed drilling equipment to expedite the rescue process. The White House consults with labor union officials and then declines the offer. There are no union members trained to operate the equipment and its operation round-the-clock would be in violation of the union's collective bargaining agreement.
Day 31: President Obama is asked at a back-yard press-conference if the federal government is doing all that it can to assist in the rescue of the miners. The President responds with an expression that conveys irritation that his near-omnipotence has been questioned. He replies that he cannot suck the miners out of the ground with a straw.
Day 38: Secretary of the Interior announces a moratorium on all underground mining in the County.
Day 39: The governors of West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Nevada send a letter to President Obama, Secretary Salazar, Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that the moratorium be lifted. The letter notes that tens of thousands of miners have been put out of work. Speaker Pelosi responds that the best way to get the miners back to work is to give them food stamps.
Day 44: At a congressional hearing on the issue, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords questions the Director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration about the rescue operation. She asks if the agency is utilizing green technologies, such as solar powered lights, to illuminate the rescue site during the evening hours.
Day 47: Senator Harry Reid appears on Good Morning America. He asserts that the mine collapse is the result of risky and unproven mining practices that should never have authorized by the Bush Administration. In a subsequent portion of the interview, he suggests that it is imperative that the entire American health care system be overhauled with the imposition of an untested amalgam of new boards, bureaucracies, IRS agents, and mandates.
Day 51: At the urging of President Obama, the House passes bill that establishes the Mine Safety Regulatory Agency (MRSA). The bill authorizes the expenditure of $10 billion on mine safety issues. The actual expenditure on mine safety consists of a $50,000 grant to researchers at UCLA to study the effects of sunlight deprivation on the libido of South African diamond miners. The balance is for grants that allow individual states to defer dealing with unfunded public employee retirement benefit obligations.
Day 52: A Yemeni national attending school in Fort Collins is arrested along I-70, a mile away from the press village at the mine site. A flat tire has stranded him alongside the highway and the tow-truck driver reports suspicious materials in the rented vehicle. Authorities find plastic explosives, detonating devices, and evidence of recent communication with Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.
Day 54: Secretary Janet Napolitano deflects questions regarding whether the Department of Homeland Security considered the possibility that Al Qaeda might use a live broadcast being beamed to a billion people worldwide as an opportunity to make a statement. She suggests that the suspect was probably a "one-off" devotee of the Uni-bomber. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighs in suggesting the suspect was probably concerned that his Uncle Ali would have to post trans-fat content information on the menu board at his falafel stand in south Buffalo.
Day 60: The large diameter bore hole is completed. Preparation begins for the rescue operation.
Day 69: The world watches as the first miner is lifted to the surface. Vice President Biden is on hand. As the first miner exits the rescue capsule, the Vice President welcomes him back to "Wyoming" and implores him to take off his sunglasses so that the world can see his smiling face. Unfortunately, President Obama is not able to attend. He needs to complete his round of golf early so he can see Michelle and friends off on their three-week trip to Spain.
And that's the way it is, but it does not have to be. Viva Chile! Viva President Pinera! Viva the American spirit of can-do! Let the reformation begin on November 2.