Wilbur Ross’s Distress

Nominees for the 2017 Moby’s Dick Award are coming in thick and fast (or should that be long & limp?)

Since bad corporate behavior is the focus of Harvey’s Blog, you would expect business people to predominate the early favorites. But now a new hybrid monster is emerging from under the bed: the businessman (or woman in Betsy DeVos’s case) who’s vaulted from the boardroom into the political spotlight.

The domain of these magnificent creatures is usually a corporate one. But there’s only so much mayhem you can create before you butt up against the stubborn beast known as Government. All that will change with Trump’s latest nominee for his cabinet, Wilbur Ross who is tabbed for the job of Commerce Secretary. There’s nothing standing in his way now.

The Sago mine tragedy illustrates the potential human cost of Ross’s distressed-asset investment strategy.

Source: Wilbur Ross’s Distress

Robert Reich, in posting this article on Facebook had this to say about Wilbur’s illustrious career:

Trump’s pick of Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce seems to have escaped media scrutiny, but here’s what you need to know about him:

1. Ross has specialized in buying up steel mills, textile mills and coal mines, then getting rid of their unions, slashing wages, dropping health care, reneging on pension obligations, and cutting operating costs down to the bone.

2. Running a coal mine on the cheap has consequences. On Jan. 2, 2006, 12 miners perished at Ross’s Sago Mine. Just a year before the disaster, the Mine Safety Administration of the Department of Labor cited the mine for 208 safety violations, 96 considered “serious and substantial,” including roof falls, improper ventilation, blocked escape passages and piles of combustible materials. Nineteen days before catastrophe struck, a federal inspector cited the company for “a high degree of negligence” for allowing potentially explosive coal dust to accumulate in the mine. After the Jan. 2 underground explosion trapped miners in a smoke-choked shaft, they discovered their emergency air packs were inoperable. (The mine foreman was later indicted for falsifying safety check reports.)

But despite the findings that the mine was unsafe, Ross refused to shut it down. The mine’s executives said Ross had been intimately involved with the company and knew all about its safety problems, but pushed them to show profits (see below).

3. Forbes magazine lists Ross as one of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $2.9 billion.

Trump portrays himself as the voice of working people, including coal miners. Wilbur Ross is the embodiment of greed that has shafted working people, and, not incidentally, murdered coal miners.

– Robert Reich, Facebook, December 7, 2016

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