The Wall Street Journal just loves, loves, loves capitalism


Two stories from this Wall Street Journal this week reveal a rather low level of journalistic quality at that Republican Party aligned publication.

First is a scandalous and offensive column by one of the WSJ's many Republican Party cheerleaders titled "Capitalism Saved the Miners: The Profit = Innovation Dynamic Was Everywhere at the Mine Rescue Site" by Daniel Henninger. In this column, the author rather weakly argues that a special drill bit, a piece of technology developed by a capitalist company, saved the miners and without capitalism they would have been trapped forever.

The author went on to attack President Obama for a recent speech during which he remarked:

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.

The WSJ columnist insisted that Obama's point of view would block innovation like making drill bits that save miners.

Of course, nowhere in his piece does the WSJ hack explain how the miners got trapped, as Fairness and Accuracy in reporting blogger Steve Rendall noted. Maybe they fell out of the sky into that hole and God buried them under tons of rock to prove to us capitalism is best?

Rendall remarks:

After the miners' rescue Wednesday, talk in Chile turned to mine safety and the  conduct of Compañía Minera San Esteban, the corporation that owns the San Jose mines where the miners were trapped. On Thursday, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera publicly addressed safety issues,  vowing "fundamental changes in how businesses treat their workers."

Stories about San Esteban's horrible record are legion (e.g., here and here). The company has been host to a number of deaths at its mines in recentyears, and accusations of safety violations including the charge that it ignored orders to install safety equipment--a condition of its reopening after a previous accident--which might have made an earlier escape possible for some miners.

Moreover, during the debacle, San Esteban, which played no part in the miners' rescue, pled poverty and claimed it could not pay the trapped miners wages. As London's Independent reported, San Esteban "says it has no money to continue paying their wages, let alone cope with the lawsuits that will inevitably arise from the ordeal."

He adds that it was a Chilean government operation that freed the miners with assistance from U.S. government agencies – without which we could assume the trapped miners would still be trapped even dead.

Rendall closes:

No one argues that capitalism does not produce new innovations (while sometimes stifling innovations too), but in Henninger's capitalist Wonder Land, the bad actions of capitalists, as well as the the good and vital acts of governments, are banished to the real world.

A recent North American comparison to this incident (with far fewer lives at risk) was the recent oil spill near Kalamazoo, Michigan, in which nearly one million gallons of petroleum products spill from an Enbridge Energy Partners pipeline.

While Enbridge, according to local media reports, sat on its hands and refused to move urgently to warn local communities about the dangers and stalled in addressing safety concerns on the pipeline before the leak, government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency along with local and state public safety agencies moved swiftly to provide health assistance and a massive clean-up operation that has seen the return of green grass, wildlife, and relatively few health concerns to an area that many feared would be devastated for years.

The second WSJ story worth a dramatic re-write is a short piece posted last week that hints at the crisis in healthcare. In it reporter Janet Adamy opens with this startling lede:

The four largest U.S. for-profit health insurers on average denied policies to one out of every seven applicants based on their prior medical history, according to a congressional investigation released Tuesday.

Two top House Democrats said the findings covered 2007 to 2009 for Aetna Inc., Humana Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and WellPoint Inc. In total, the carriers denied coverage to more than 651,000 people due to pre-existing medical conditions over the three-year period.

Get ready for a major exposé.

Nope. The article goes on to publish the point of view and rationalizations by insurers for denying access to care for hundreds of thousands of people. It boils down to profit motive. This is the same
profit motive the first WSJ article referred to. Denial of care for people and a profit-motivated health system are key to innovation? Letting people suffer even die is important for capitalist development – this is WSJ's point of view!

To be fair the WSJ reporter notes:

Under the health-care overhaul legislation, beginning in 2014 insurers can no longer deny coverage because of a pre-existing health condition.

Of course the author (and the paper's editors) refuse to even note that the President's health reform law has already made major changes to limit the ability of these companies to deny care to millions of people – a fact that the Wall Street Journal joined with its Republican Party-affiliates in vigorously trying to stop!

Photo: After Enbridge worked to avoid addressing safety and health issues on their leaky pipeline, government agencies worked aound the clock to clean up nearly one million gallons of petroleum product. (EPA)

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