Coal country is broke no thanks to Trump

This ran in the Sunday Pilot, but their search engine is past redemption. Here are the essentials.

Hillary lost a lot of support when she was quoted out of context that “we are closing down coal mines”. The rest of the speech was about facing the reality that coal was phasing out for energy and being replaced by gas. The free market at work. The speech was about allocating resources to retrain miners for employment in more useful fields.

Also now comes Trump and says to forget all that. Coal is coming back and you’ll be back in the mines (getting black lung, but I digress). Well we know how that is turning out. Except for metallurgical coal, coal is dying…even in China.

So here is a county that relied on $800+K annually fron coal now getting $8K. Income levels at $14K and no law enforcement but for a super dedicated sheriff pulling 16 hour shifts on donated gas.

Of course the mantra from the regime about King Coal conflicts with retraining.
(Besides we have hordes of rapists crossing the border, but I digress again…adult ADD).

And yet I would bet that those beleaguered and broke miners and supporting businesses would vote for Trump again because…they still hate Hillary I suppose.


7 thoughts on “Coal country is broke no thanks to Trump

  1. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Sheriff Kirk or blame the president for his circumstances?

    Kirk and his constituents have agency. Just looking at things structurally, they obviously find it beneficial to face the challenges at hand by remaining where they are instead of going someplace else. I don’t blame them, but neither do I assume that either I or the government owes them anything.


  2. What you have said is true, unfortunately, for a lot of areas in Appalachia. “I am to old (53). I tried the classes but it was beyond me. I have roots here. Coal is coming back”.

    I also feel a bit less compassion when I see this. The greatest movements we have seem have come from the Great Migration by blacks leaving intolerable, and dangerous, environments in the post-Civil War South to head North and the Dust Bowl migration to the West.

    Here is the difference: those who migrated then knew things were not going to get better.

    The coal industry, and the miners of course, were promised massive changes to put them back in the mines by Trump and his believers in the GOP. Easy to believe a man like Trump who seemed to be outside the elite and a non-political animal.

    Of course Trump is not totally to blame for inaction by the miners and others. After all, those who believe everything a politician says are pretty naive or uneducated. But again, Trump was not a politician, so hope sprung eternal.

    If you have seen other posts by me on Appalachia, you would have noticed that I hold them as a poster child of unregulated capitalism gone wrong. The industry raped then land and screwed the miners. Eventually, the miners got a strong enough union to fight back and make good wages…for about a generation or so. But the riches that came from the region fueled our incredible gains in industry and helped win the big war and gave us an economic lead that until recently has been insurmountable.

    Appalachia should have had the best healthcare, best hospitals, best schools, finest housing and great investments in sectors other than coal. It should have been and should still be the Silicon Valley of the East and Mid-West.

    So Hillary promised less mining and more re-training into fields that are making sense today. Maybe the program would have helped enough folks to tamp down the opioid crisis there, raise incomes and bring back some kind of economic stability.

    With Trump, we will never know.

    I feel that the “crisis” at the border, though a problem of manpower and facilities to handle asylum seekers and not so much a wall, pales in comparison to the many regions of our nation still left behind the 101 month resurgence of a damn near broken economy. And the cost of healthcare which is crushing the median income and middle classes.
    And the bad roads. And, obviously, the rot in the financial sector which is repeating the slow dance to 2008.


    1. RE: “If you have seen other posts by me on Appalachia, you would have noticed that I hold them as a poster child of unregulated capitalism gone wrong.”

      Yes, you often post about failures of capitalism. Where is the failure of capitalism here?

      All your criticisms are variations on a theme that industry in Appalachia failed to exhibit sufficient social responsibility. How is that a failure of capitalism?

      To make such an argument you must assume the private property that industry exploits doesn’t fully belong to the capitalists who paid for it. But this, of course, is the much debunked Marxian critique, stemming ultimately from the failed labor theory of value.

      You could accomplish much more by sending five bucks to Sheriff Kirk than by promoting false problem identifications.


  3. Failure of capitalism is not the same as failure of unregulated capitalism.

    Every critique I have made about the failures of unregulated, or poorly regulated capitalism suddenly get a knee jerk reaction relating me or my comment to Marxism.

    Private property is a privilege accorded to the owners by virtue of living a republic like ours with an essentially free market. But it is not unlimited nor without constraints.

    Just because I own a piece of land, I cannot dig oils wells without permits. A coal mine is supposed to observe regulations about where to dump effluents and waste. Open pit mines have to restore the property to its original condition as closely as possible. Patents are not indefinite. And all of these examples are inroads on the ownership by the nation for the health and safety of its citizens.

    Your constant harping on the value of labor comes, in my opinion, from the fear of anything that mentions the word “labor” since its usage by the founders of communism.

    Yet you ignore the plain fact that an economy, free, socialist, communist, capitalist, you name it, mean absolutely nothing without labor. It is why we work. The era of hunter-gathers ended when agriculture became the most important food supply so we could accomplish other innovations. Labor was a medium of exchange and some kind of monetary system, be it beads, coins, bills, checks, made it possible without having to shoe horses and then walk away with a bushel of corn.

    And that is the whole concept of economics in a non-abstruse nutshell.

    And if you don’t see the value of labor, then you are in the “Red Scare” mode which is totally counterproductive.

    Labor moves the money in our system. Paychecks from company A is spent at B, and provides them with profit and enough to pay employees to buy from company C.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Every critique I have made about the failures of unregulated, or poorly regulated capitalism suddenly get a knee jerk reaction relating me or my comment to Marxism.”

      That’s because the knee jerk reaction is valid, at least in this instance where you assume that an insufficiency of social welfare, broadly defined, occurred in Appalachia. I think your frustration may stem from not appreciating the Marxian analysis well enough to avoid using it.

      Maybe this will help: Consider that labor requires consumption. You must labor to produce food, which you must eat in order to labor again to produce more food which again you must eat, and so on endlessly. Once you have this firmly in mind, it is no longer possible to say that labor drives an economy, no matter what kind of economy it is. You might just as well say that consumption drives the economy, the way fuel drives an engine. But what good does it do to say such a thing, except to show that labor is not the most important factor?

      Adam Smith famously solved this puzzle by substituting the concept of process for labor as the source of wealth. The idea is worth contemplating.


  4. Maybe this will help you.

    Take away labor completely.

    Labor doesn’t drive the economy, it is the reason for its being.

    The exchange of goods and services is not among machines. It is among people.

    And this is true no matter which economic model you aspire too. Some do it more efficiently than others, but the whole thing is wrapped around living, breathing and working people. They barter, buy, exchange and consume.

    Without that consumption, which you seem to dismiss, there is no economy.


    1. RE: “Take away labor completely…Labor doesn’t drive the economy, it is the reason for its being.”

      No thanks. I’m retired.

      But seriously, when you can see that labor and consumption are two parts of a process, then you can begin to avoid making chicken-and-egg assumptions that are meaningless to basic economics.


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