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    • AvatarGeorge Turner in reply to Chip Daniels on Pushing On a StringFortunately, our form of government isn't supposed to require the President to understand much of anything about business or industry except that it's bad to kill it. In fact, that's true of most government posts, which is why top-down command economies that depended on government decision making struggled to produce adequate supplies of toilet paper or potatoes. There's simply too much to know, and even people who are living the ground truth have trouble keeping up with the things going on in just their little niche.
    • AvatarSlade the Leveller on AMAWouldn’t a better solution be to let them leave the grounds for a smoke? Discharging them for a short term crossing of the property line seems as capricious to me as the smoking ban must seem to you.
    • AvatarSlade the Leveller on Trump’s Useful IdiotForthcoming from Em Carpenter: What’s the Matter With West Virginia?.
    • AvatarGeorge Turner in reply to Chip Daniels on Trump’s Useful IdiotThe decline in the number of active miners is certainly true, but when you count "retired miners", and retired miners who stayed in the community, or the number of people whose father worked in the mines, the numbers are still quite large. The whites I grew up with were going through the same shift as the blacks, just a bit slower. Once West German mining equipment came in (a bit before my time), along with mountain-top removal operations, there was an irreversible decline in mining employment, but the local economy kept trundling along. Even though there aren't many active miners, and people are working at Walmart or McDonald's, everyone knows that mining (and black lung checks) is what keeps the money trickling in. Lots of people would never work in a mine yet appreciate the industry, its people, and know many miners, their wives, their foremen, etc. The same would be true for steel mills, automotive plants, ocean fishing, farming, ranching, or oil drilling. And it can happen elsewhere. Amazon is thinking of moving out of Seattle. Suppose they do, and then suppose Boeing goes belly up from their 737 fiasco or other bad market decisions. Then Starbucks collapses when fancy coffee goes the way of Blockbuster and frozen yogurt, and then Microsoft screws up so badly that they get kicked to the curb by some new Android OS. Then Seattle starts looking even more like Detroit. All those formerly employed and lauded Boeing machinists and tech workers sit around lamenting the loss of…
    • AvatarChip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw on Trump’s Useful IdiotThere was an interesting subplot on the show Shameless where Kevin, the big gentle lug of a guy decides he wants to stop bartending and get a "real" job so he applies to be a machinist, thinking it is some authentic manly job. He discovers that first, you need to know how to run a computer controlled machine and second, you need to speak Spanish to communicate with the other guys. I don't know how real that is but I know that the audiences expectation were assumed to be like Kevin's, where we live in a world where any guy with muscles can get a job bending metal or pounding something and that job would be sufficient to support a family. What is equally interesting is how any non-stereotypical work is largely invisible. Raniqua Allen's piece profiles some of the people who used to work in coal but moved into other low wage work like Walmart. The Rust Belt stories never tell us about the sort of work people do now in Appalachia or Youngstown or Detroit, the call centers or Walmarts or retail work. Its as if the work that gets done there is not "real"work, and these people are no longer part of the "working class" but some invisible category we can't see.
    • AvatarChip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain on Pushing On a StringAaannd between you two, we have more knowledge of the coal industry than the entire Trump administration. Wish I could say this is snark.
    • AvatarMichael Cain in reply to Andrew Donaldson on Pushing On a StringThe percentages are higher for more expensive metallurgical coal. For thermal coal, though, it's really hard for any part of the US to compete with Australia and Indonesia in the Asian markets. And a substantial majority of Appalachian coal is still thermal coal. Arguably, most of the Trump administration's actions to stimulate coal usage should result in more western coal putting the thermal coal miners in Appalachia out of business.
    • AvatarAndrew Donaldson in reply to Michael Cain on Pushing On a Stringno need I'll concede the point. Still sounds low but perhaps I'm mistaken.
    • AvatarMichael Cain in reply to North on Pushing On a StringMore and more often I find myself wanting to be an historian, but for a really strange period of time and location :^) I saw an interesting remark the other day about water, from someone at the Palo Verde nukes: "If Phoenix gets too efficient with its water, Palo Verde will have to shut down. Flush your high efficiency toilet twice."
    • AvatarAndrew Donaldson in reply to Chip Daniels on Trump’s Useful IdiotThe data Chip cites is accurate. It lines up and comes from the research I'm doing on my current writing project: that word of the treatment of African Americans got around. There were two major labor events in WV that greatly affected how the African-American's saw the region. The first was the completion of the C&O railway through the heart of WV and what we now know as the coal fields from Covington, VA to Huntington, WV and the Ohio river, done almost completely with "freeman" black labor and the occasional immigrant, that was barely better than the slavery they had just left. The same line that brought us the John Henry story also buried a lot of people of color who fell in, worked to death, or died of "tunnelitis" from digging and grading the railbed around and through the mountains. Hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, died. The line was completed at Hawk's nest where the two ends met, and that would be the cite of the second event, the Hawks Nest Tunnel. In the intervening years blacks along with influx of immigrants did indeed flock to the mines the railways had made viable. But during the industrialized murder of digging out the Hawks Nest hydroelectric tunnel, it's now believed more than a thousand men died from the known dry drilling of silicon inside that mountain. The black workers received half the compensation of a white victim, and as many of them were mirgrant-type workers from the south, to their families they just disappeared as little effort was made to ide…
    • AvatarMichael Cain in reply to Andrew Donaldson on Pushing On a String...almost all the coal currently produced in Appalachia is going on boats to China and elsewhere overseas. Per the EIA's latest report (2017), 24.6% of the coal produced in West Virginia was exported. For WV, VA, PA, and KY combined it was 18.0%. I think the EIA sucks at forecasts, but I trust their data collection. The large majority of Appalachian coal is being consumed domestically. We can argue about what constitutes Appalachia. I have map-like things :^)
    • AvatarChip Daniels in reply to George Turner on Trump’s Useful IdiotGeorge, first, thanks for introducing us to Reniqua Allen. She seems like a wonderful and articulate writer. But assuming you are sincere about speaking on behalf of black Americans, you have the same peril we liberals do which is that its easy to substitute your own voice for theirs. The least we can do is quote her accurately and in context: "By the 1930s, the industry employed 400,000 miners, 55,000 of whom were black. African Americans were restricted to more physically demanding positions requiring less skill, earning 30 percent less than whites. But their wages were still high by national standards: $118.30 per month, according to one 1929 survey. By contrast, a national study in 1939 later found that black men earned an average income of $460 per year." ... "But at mid-century, as machines began to take over the tasks of drilling and blasting coal and hauling it above ground, black miners were the first to lose their jobs. What had once been an all but certain gateway to the middle class began to close. African Americans fled the industry at even higher rates than whites; by 1960, the share of black workers in coal shrank to 6.6 from 12 percent a decade earlier. In 2014, the most recent year for which Bureau of Labor Statistics data are available, only about 2,500 blacks worked as coal miners, less than 3 percent of the total." This is why for anyone born after WWII, "coal miner" is synonymous with "white coal miner".
    • AvatarJoeSal in reply to George Turner on Trump’s Useful IdiotI jousted a few ancoms that thought all country folk were like Virginia country folk. East Coast gets a little strange in places. The Free State project probably would have worked better in Montana or Wyoming.
    • AvatarSaul Degraw in reply to CJColucci on Trump’s Useful IdiotI'm not sure why this is irrelevant to your original comment or my response but okay. My point was that red-state types think us blue staters spend a lot of time thinking about them and laughing at them. We really don't. The person I know who talks about it the most is from rural Midwest and got beat like tar for being different.
    • AvatarGeorge Turner in reply to George Turner on Trump’s Useful IdiotThe quote was part of piece on West Virginia's black mining culture by journalist and author Reniqua Allen. Bio: Reniqua Allen is a journalist that produces and writes for various outlets on issues of race, opportunity, politics and popular culture. She is currently a producer for Fork Films. Her first book, It Was All A Dream: How A New Generation is Navigating the Broken Promise of America, about black millennials and upward mobility is out now from from Nation Books/Hachette. She has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Quartz, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, Glamour and more, and has produced a range of films, video, and radio for PBS, MSNBC, WYNC and HBO. I was just trusting her to report accurately about what they told her. This came up because in another comment thread today (Pushing on a String) the stance of West Virginia on mining was said to be a token of white identity politics. I disagreed, noting that mining was a route many blacks took to the middle class, and why many of them moved to Appalachia. I apologize for accidentally causing offense.
    • AvatarChip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain on Pushing On a StringI don't even think it is so specific, since totems never are. When media types and Republicans talk about the "working class" they conjure up an image from Central Casting of some white guy with a hard hat and a Carhartt jacket, somebody that would be played by John Goodman or Randy Quaid. Maybe he (and it is always a he) is in manufacturing or construction, but definitely NOT a home health care worker, or nursing aide, definitely NOT a service clerk or retail worker and never, ever, an agricultural worker. Even though these sorts of jobs are more the norm than steelworkers or even construction and most of them are low paying difficult work. But of course, the reality is that most blue collar work is rapidly becoming the province of immigrant labor, because, well, they work cheap and don't unionize. Few if any media outlets even have a "labor" desk, and like we've seen from the Cletus Safaris when they venture out to talk to "working class" people they are searching for what Central Casting tells them to look for. So a coal miner becomes the totem, the symbol of Working Class America.
    • AvatarJ_A in reply to J_A on Trump’s Useful IdiotAs a POINT, not a PINT Gosh, somebody's else's kingdom for an IPA, it's almost 7 pm
    • AvatarJ_A in reply to Saul Degraw on Trump’s Useful Idiotep. The issue is that job retraining programs can also be hijacked by grifters and confidence men. T ....... Never mind teaching much older people to code is probably not going to work I agree - I would put all these retaining programs much lower in my personal list of proposals. But proposing to teach old people to code is more realistic that promising to Make Coal Great Again, so I';; still count it as a pint for the party of the first party 🙂
    • AvatarJ_A in reply to J_A on Trump’s Useful IdiotBummer, I should have checked before choosing Montana as my example . Montana is expected to win a seat, and after 2020 it will have the same EVs as WV
    • AvatarNorth in reply to JoeSal on Pushing On a StringWell we liberals do think it's unbiased; but then we would wouldn't we?
    • AvatarSaul Degraw in reply to J_A on Trump’s Useful IdiotYep. The issue is that job retraining programs can also be hijacked by grifters and confidence men. The New York Times had a good indepth piece about the many cons in a program that tried to teach West Virginians to code: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/us/mined-minds-west-virginia-coding.html Never mind teaching much older people to code is probably not going to work. But you are correct that voters want Make Coal Great Again over "We will give you jobs cleaning up West Virginia from many environmental hazards and help you make it beautiful again because then what?"
    • AvatarMichael Siegel on Trump’s Useful IdiotGreat post, Em. Also clicked through to that CC account and all "she" does is tweet MAGA stuff all. day. long. Definitely a bot. But apparently one with 300k followers. We live in weird times.
    • AvatarJ_A on Trump’s Useful IdiotWith all due respect, we (I) have talked about this several times. There's a political party that has some proposals to alleviate the situation. They include job training, improved access to healthcare, increased minimum wages, etc. We can discuss those proposals, and improve them if possible. Me, personally, I would eliminate some of those and I also have some additional proposals to add to the mix. But all those proposals start on the premise that the coal industry is dying and nothing will be able to save it. There's a party that is against all those proposals. Instead, they just say they will make coal great again. There's no details, no explanation, no rationale. It will just happen, you just wait. Nothing needs to change because all will be great again. Voters vote for Make Coal Great Again. I can understand that The sad thing is that the second party knows pretty well that coal is dying, and that nothing will bring it back. They are against the first party's proposals, not because they think they are bad for west Virginians, but because they are bad for capital. Since they can't say that, they just lie. They simply lie to West Virginia, collect their votes, and let the voters rot. It is not as if the second party can do anything to save the mines. No one can. West Virginia's hope lies in losing electoral votes, so it gets to be as meaningful as Montana. Then the second party will lose interest, and will probably get out of the way. It's a pity there will be so much dam…
    • AvatarMichael Cain in reply to PD Shaw on Pushing On a StringYeah, I'm guilty of oversimplification -- it's always more complicated than can be put into ten paragraphs. Under the 1990 Amendments, a plant can emit as much SO2 as it wants, so long as it holds sufficient permits. As you mention, triggering capital construction events may also require emissions controls despite the number of permits. A couple of the plants in the Southwest were eventually caught up in the 1977 Amendments, which included visibility standards for the national parks (TTBOMK, no power plants have been sued on the visibility thing outside the West, but my interests are parochial). There may be an east-west divide over the notion of sustainable coal. 15 years ago, Xcel Energy built state-of-the-art Unit 3 at the coal-fired Comanche power plant in Colorado and brought all three units up to state-of-the-art emission controls. Xcel is back before the Colorado PUC asking for permission to retire Units 1 and 2 early, despite spending all that money on them, because they can buy renewable and natural gas-fired electricity for less than running those coal-fired units. Current conventional wisdom in the West is that no one will ever build another new coal-fired plant, and will shut plants down (or convert to natural gas) rather than add new emissions gear.
    • AvatarCJColucci in reply to Saul Degraw on Trump’s Useful IdiotSome years ago, I had an office mate who had come in second in the Miss West Virginia contest. We constantly engaged in consensual banter that, even in those days, would have had HR coming down on our heads like a ton of bricks. Her filthy jokes were filthier than mine, and she had city-slicker jokes to match or top any of my fairly obvious West Virginia jokes. Her West Virginia jokes were better than mine, too.
    • AvatarJS in reply to Saul Degraw on Trump’s Useful IdiotSo you're saying you don't even care? That the people of WV are beneath you? They mine your coal, or grow your food, or...whatever. It'll be something. That is, of course, not your point and not how anyone thinks. But care about their plight and you're condescending. Don't care and you're ignoring the 'real America' in favor of your effete city ways. Because it's not about you, of course. You're immaterial, a convenient scapegoat for their problems. Far, far better to have a nebulous "them" that is causing all the problems. People can be faced, voted out, defeated one way or another. Systemic economic issues or worse yet the sheer vague way that things just change? How can you fight that? Sadly, anywhere there is an unhappy or angry person, there are con-men to prey on them. Left, right, middle, urban, rural doesn't matter. Anger and misery sells snake-oil.
    • AvatarSaul Degraw in reply to CJColucci on Trump’s Useful IdiotAs a resident of those dreadful coastal elite places, I can tell you the amount of time I spend laughing at people from places like West Virginia is exactly zero. Three different social events during the weekend and zero minutes spent discussing people from West Virginia or a similarly situated state.
    • AvatarEm Carpenter in reply to JoeSal on Trump’s Useful IdiotThere was. Editorial removed for redaction. It’s back.
    • AvatarCJColucci on Trump’s Useful IdiotIn many parts of the country, for much of the 20th century and continuing today, large numbers of folks support people who are screwing them because of their resentment of people they think are laughing at them. Whether those people are actually laughing at them is largely beside the point. H.L. Mencken was particularly good on this.
    • AvatarJoeSal on Trump’s Useful IdiotWasn't there a comment here from George?
    • AvatarSaul Degraw on Trump’s Useful IdiotIn the other thread on coal, I mentioned that Josh Hawley nearly went full Nazi and brought up "cosmopolitan elites." Missouri is not as bad off as West Virginia but it is another rust belt state filled with the kind of white, working class, and largely exurban to rural voter that has been destroyed to gentrification and potentially lost to the Democratic party forever. IIRC, West Virginians voted for an incarcerated person or former felon instead of voting for Obama in the 2012 Democratic primary. Coal is dying its death and there will not be a rival. I do think that a kind of Green New Deal/WPA can be used to get good employment in West Virginia doing environmental clean-up but this does not seem to be wanted. What seems to be an issue is that lots of people want special pleading and subsidy for ways of life that are not necessarily economically viable or needed anymore. When this does not happen they lash out. The problem with a lot of rural areas is that their reason for existence largely gets destroyed by better technology, communications, transportation, and shipping. In California legal ethics classes, there is a story that we all read to have the fear of managing and observing your staff put into us. The story involved a lawyer from the 1990s whose secretary forged his signature on many documents and embezzled hundreds of thousands from clients. She also forged his signature on his voluntary resignation before the bar in lieu of investigation (the guy was a drinker).…
    • AvatarChip Daniels in reply to George Turner on Trump’s Useful IdiotGeorge 'Nat' Turner- The Voice Of Afro-America.
    • AvatarJaybird in reply to Kolohe on In Which I Spend a Sleepless Night Contemplating the Cats TrailerI will wait and see. But the movie will have a lot of stuff done in post. I have no doubt that Ms. Hudson's line will involve multiple breaths. If my assumption is bad, I hope someone points it out to me come the movie's release.
    • AvatarKolohe in reply to Kolohe on In Which I Spend a Sleepless Night Contemplating the Cats TrailerI mean, for real, singing talent does not at all seem a thing this movie production is missing. (*sideeyes Les Mis*)
    • AvatarKolohe in reply to Jaybird on In Which I Spend a Sleepless Night Contemplating the Cats TrailerDoesn't Jennifer Hudson have that line in the movie? I'm pretty certain she could do the same.
    • AvatarJoeSal in reply to J_A on Pushing On a String...... ‘whatever the left needs to political signal today’
    • AvatarJoeSal in reply to North on Pushing On a StringUnbiased reality is the final arbiter.
    • AvatarGeorge Turner in reply to Andrew Donaldson on Pushing On a StringIndia might shape up to be another export market. They've almost doubled their coal-fired electricity production just since 2012, and if their powerplant growth exceeds their mining growth, it could create some good opportunities. Unfortunately they have their own vast coal reserves, so in the long term they probably wouldn't be a great market. However, their coal industry is completely dominated by a giant nationalized coal company, and we all know how efficient and innovative those can be. ^_^
    • AvatarEm Carpenter in reply to George Turner on Trump’s Useful IdiotListen George. Don’t explain to me the working class people of West Virginia. I know them. I am of them. I was raised miles below the poverty line in a community of the people you describe. To suggest I don’t understand my own people, that I have disdain for them- no. I’m not having it. This is not “respect”, this is pandering to desperate people who are tired of being looked down upon, but doing nothing of real substance to help them, and then feeding them lies about how great they’re doing. . That is disrespect. That’s contempt and disdain. This is not about Obama, and I defy you to look through my year worth of writing on this site and find a place where I have praised Obama as a savior of anything. Take your assumptions about who I am and where my perspective comes from elsewhere.
    • AvatarGeorge Turner in reply to Philip H on Pushing On a StringWell, you might not, but I do. Admittedly blacks are invisible to certain people, so you probably think that some of the miner's are just "very tan". But those of us on the right see a lot of black miners in the crowds behind him, and see what clearly seems to be a black miner, in a mining hat, standing right behind him in the Oval Office. The majority of kids on my school bus were black, and virtually all of those were from coal mining families. I grew up with them. I assure you they exist, as much as Democrats wish they didn't.