Responding to disaster runs much more smoothly when done in the light of day. Like most people, I was riveted and inspired by the joyous rescue of the 33 Chilean miners yesterday. Yet I couldn't help but make some comparisons ... why didn't we have these guys cap the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico? Chile did everything right that the U.S. did wrong when it came to addressing disaster.
First of all, they accepted outside help. They had several contingency plans and there was actually a friendly competition between different firms as to who could drill the escape route first. This was all done in the light of day instead of like how BP did everything, including somehow enlisting the U.S. Coast Guard, to chase away anyone who might be so curious as to know what the hell they were doing to fix one of the worst environmental catastrophes in history.
In recent months, Chile has been exemplary in showing the importance of good preparation. Remember the earthquake they had earlier this year? It measured 8.8 on the Richter scale, 501 times stronger than the quake that devastated Haiti. Yet Haiti lost a quarter million people while Chile's death toll was in the hundreds. That shows how important building codes are. That's why you regulate companies instead of having them write the rule books for you. BP pretty much wrote their own regulations. See where that got us?