Freepressers

Did capitalism save the miners?

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Rescuers test a capsule at the San Jose mine near the city of Copiapo, on Oct. 11. / AFP/Mining Ministry

It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism.

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.

In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:

“The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper.”

Uh, yeah. That’s a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that’s right. Ask the miners.

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.

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