For 70 days, 33 Chilean miners were trapped a half mile below the surface of the earth — “swallowed into the bowels of hell,” as one miner says — waiting for rescue. A billion viewers watched as they finally began to emerge to safety.
A fierce determination at both ends of the slowly constructed shaft aided the rescue. The miners had to outlast the first few weeks of despair, when they had scant information about the rescue mission. Throughout the ordeal they maintained the mine and their own morale. The rescuers had to figure out how to first get supplies to the miners and then create the narrow but stable shaft through which the miners could escape, as all 33 of them did.
A less-noted aspect of the story is that the rescue could not have happened without technology that did not exist even a quarter century ago. This included everything from the powerful drill bit donated by Center Rock Inc., a Pennsylvania company, to copper-fiber socks that consumed foot bacteria. But especially that drill bit.
Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger observes that Center Rock’s drill bit exists because of the firm’s pursuit of profit in an economy where pursuit of profit is possible. It exists because of what Henninger calls the “profit=innovation” dynamic. Indeed, capitalism saves lives every day; markets make our lives better and sometimes makes our lives possible.
You don’t have to mine very hard to get a moral out of the story.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.