Let us now thank…

(1) The Anglo-Saxon legal system, which allows Virginia Phillips to halt Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in its tracks on constitutional grounds (whether her decision and stay hold up is another story, but a political one).

(2) Judge Phillips, for doing the right thing.

(3) Hardrock miners, who go deep underground in harm’s way every day, and get really useful stuff for us to use, while we see  the sun come up every day, almost never risk being blown up by methane or smooshed by falling mountain parts, and don’t think about the real cost of minerals in lives and health.

(4) Civil and mechanical engineers, who can figure out how to get thirty-three of them out of a really bad situation alive, and also how to keep them alive for two months down there during the rescue drilling.

(5) Whatever enabled those 33 guys to stay sane and functional all those weeks underground.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

9 thoughts on “Let us now thank…”

  1. Actually, hardrock miners aren't at risk from methane — that is found in coal mines, but not hardrock mines. Still a hard, dangerous job, though.

  2. on the miners: we helped:


    Point of Contact: David Weaver, Office of Communications, NASA Headquarters,




    The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the rescue effort for the Chilean miners.

    “On behalf of the entire NASA family, I want to ask that our heartfelt thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the courageous miners, their families and friends, and the dedicated people who have been working to safely reach those who are still trapped underground.

    “There is a lot of hard work ahead for rescuers, but the Chilean government and the people of that great nation should be praised for their steadfast determination. Their unwavering commitment is the reason we are witness to the joyful and emotional reunions today as the miners are returned to the surface one-by-one.

    “I also want to express my personal thanks to the Americans who have assisted in this heroic effort, and specifically the NASA team that traveled to Chile in the early days of the crisis. For decades, the people of this agency have learned to live, work, and survive in the hostile environment of space. Our expertise in maintaining physiological and psychological health, and our technical and engineering experience in spacecraft design all proved to be valuable in a situation that is far from our traditional scope of work.

    “I am proud of the people of this agency who were able to bring the experience of spaceflight down to Earth when it was needed most. As the drama of this rescue continues to unfold before us, we pray for the safe return of each and every miner.”

    For more information about NASA and the miners rescue, visit: http://www.nasa.gov

  3. Hardrock miners are at risk of silicosis, TB, lung cancer, and other respiratory ailments (even when you control for smoking).

    The role of Americans in the rescue shows what American power ought to be all about and how it should be manifested. Dominance by brute force gets us nowhere.

  4. ¨The Anglo-Saxon legal system¨?

    As invented by the Angevin lawyers of Henri II Plantagenêt. Real Anglo-Saxon law was the one with graduated fines for murder. And, of course, trial by ordeal.

    Lifted from Wikipedia:

    ¨Ordeal of hot water

    First mentioned in the 6th century Lex Salica, the ordeal of hot water requires the accused to dip his hand in a kettle of boiling water and retrieve a stone.

    King Athelstan made a law concerning the ordeal. The water had to be about boiling, and the depth from which the stone had to be retrieved was up to the wrist for one accusation, and up to the elbow for three. The ordeal would take place in the church, with several in attendance, purified and praying God to reveal the truth. Afterwards, the hand was bound and examined after three days to see whether it was healing or festering.¨

  5. Judicial review, referencing constitutional grounds, as I recall, was an American invention, derived from Montesquieu's misunderstanding of the unwritten British constitution, and the rebellious record of lawyers and courts in the run-up to the Revolution. Back in Britain, the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty would seem to entail legislative supremacy. Of course, lots of folks also think that Britain has a free press, despite its draconian libel laws, an oppressive Official Secrets Act, blasphemy and lese-majesty statutes; we live in an age of misinformation — its own sort of ordeal.

  6. I assume that it is a coincidence that "Salica" (mentioned three comments above this one) is an anagram for "Scalia," but Lex Salica sounds like something he'd find just fine under the Eighth Amendment.

  7. The guy that ran the Plan B drill was also an American–he was called out of Afghanistan, where he'd been drilling water wells for U.S. bases, to help out in Chile.

Comments are closed.