Editorial: Don Blankenship and Matthew 16:26

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first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star:Six years and a day after one of the worst mining disasters in some four decades, a federal judge has sentenced the coal company’s former CEO to a year in prison and fined him $250,000 for conspiring to violate federal safety standards. For the 29 killed at Massey Energy Company’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia in 2010, it hardly seems enough.Donald Blankenship’s well-paid attorneys will immediately file an appeal, of course, so we’ll see about the jail time. We’d just say that if there’s a more unsympathetic personification of corporate greed in this country, well, may Blankenship be a warning to him or her.Even though Blankenship was acquitted of far more serious felony charges late last year that could have earned him significantly more prison time, it’s hard to ignore his long record of sacrificing mine safety in pursuit of higher profits — for example, falling short on the ventilation of the coal dust that exploded in this case, despite repeated warnings. It’s worth noting that autopsies of the 29 dead found that 71 percent of them had black lung disease, compared to an industry average of 3.2 percent.We suppose it’s some solace that the 66-year-old Blankenship did get the maximum for his misdemeanor conviction. We suppose it’s a wonder he got convicted at all, given that his wealth and his political connections had more than a few describing him as “untouchable.” Nonetheless, it’s hard to escape the feeling that there are two systems of justice in America, a more forgiving one for the rich and powerful and a harsher one for everybody else.Indeed, at most Blankenship will spend just over 12 days per employee victim in jail. (In fairness, he wasn’t charged with directly causing their deaths.) We can’t peer into his conscience to know how he truly feels about that. It requires a cynicism we can’t quite muster to think he wouldn’t turn back the clock if he could. We can only judge him on what he says. At his sentencing he expressed sorrow but not quite remorse, saying, “I am not guilty of a crime.” He’ll forgive the surviving families of those miners who might now say to him, “The hell you aren’t.”We feel much the same way about the captains of finance who helped bring about the 2008 recession. They may not have acted illegally but arguably obliterated many a professional ethical/personal moral boundary for wealth unimaginable to most. May they at least be sentenced to multiple meetings with Matthew 16:26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”Editorial: Matthew 16:26, required reading for CEOs? Editorial: Don Blankenship and Matthew 16:26last_img

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