We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1899

Mind boggling legislation in WV:

State safety inspectors wouldn’t inspect West Virginia’s coal mines anymore. They would conduct “compliance visits and education.”

Violations of health and safety standards wouldn’t produce state citations and fines, either. Mine operators would receive “compliance assistance visit notices.”

And West Virginia regulators wouldn’t have authority to write safety and health regulations. Instead, they could only “adopt policies … [for] improving compliance assistance” in the state’s mines.

Those and other significant changes in a new industry- backed bill would produce a wholesale elimination of most enforcement of longstanding laws and rules put in place over many years — as a result of hundreds of deaths — to protect the health and safety of West Virginia’s coal miners.

And if there was any doubt this was basically written by the mining companies, check out this nugget:

One thing that is clear is that the bill would maintain and encourage the use of “individual personal assessments,” which target specific mine employees — rather than mine operators or coal companies — for violations, fines and, possibly, revocation of certifications or licenses needed to work in the industry. In addition, the requirement for four inspections every year for each underground coal mine would be reduced to one compliance assistance visit for each of those mines.

And, the bill would require that, by Aug. 31, the state rewrite all of its coal mine safety standards so that, instead of longstanding and separate state rules, mine operators would be responsible for following only U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations. The list of areas covered by this provision includes electrical standards, mine ventilation, roof control, safety examinations, dust control and explosives.

“It completely guts the state law,” said Josh Roberts, international health and safety director for the United Mine Workers union. “You’re taking back decades of laws.”

Basically, they saw what happened to Don Blankenship, shitlord CEO who oversaw the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in 2010 that killed 29 workers. Blankenship was given a ridiculously low prison sentence of one year for basically threatening employees to violate safety standards or lose their jobs. Mine operators saw that one year as terrifying, so now they are working to make sure that only the patsy’s get in trouble.

THIS. IS. FUCKING. INSANE.






181 replies
  1. 1
    Alesis says:

    This is conservatism. At heart conservative believe in a natural artistocracy. Government is to be “small” in so far as it is too weak to “intefer” with natural labor servility.

  2. 2
    jharp says:

    “THIS. IS. FUCKING. INSANE.”

    It’s also exactly what West Virginia coal miners voted for.

    Enjoy!

  3. 3
    cmorenc says:

    If the Trump Administration can get around to it, federal mine safety regulations will be eviscerated as well – leaving miners the following offer….nothing.

  4. 4
    LAO says:

    Sometimes, you get what you vote for.

  5. 5

    Blaming only the employees, I love it. I hope all the trump voters die in explosions.

  6. 6
    Mike in DC says:

    So, next time, 100 miners will die in a collapse.

  7. 7
    NorthLeft12 says:

    The party of personal responsibility!
    Hey look, you chose to work in this industry, it is on you if you work unsafely [due to lack of training, personal protective equipment, lack of engineering controls] and get injured/die in this mine.

    Appears that mine operators have found another way to transfer all [and I mean all] of the risk and assume all of the profits. Thanks GOP!

    There is absolutely no level these guys will not stoop to. Ain’t capitalism great!

  8. 8
    Mathguy says:

    Some people decide to leave their humanity in the crapper. Mine owners fall into that category.

  9. 9
    Mathguy says:

    @Mike in DC:” But hey, they choose to work there. They can always pick up and leave and get a minimum wage job elsewhere,” says the Republican humanitarian.

    Oh, wait…such a creature does not exist.

  10. 10
    Vhh says:

    @jharp: As Ned Kelly said:
    “We rob their banks
    We thin their ranks
    And for what we do
    We take no thanks.”
    Too bad it is aimed downward rsther than upward.
    Oh well, with the increasing death rate due to accidents, overdoses, aging, and no medical care combined with desperate emigration, the Appalachian rural population
    looks likely to decline. Natural selection at work.

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    And that’s not all:

    A legislative committee lawyer indicated that some provisions intended for the bill didn’t make it into the initial text, including a rewrite of language in water quality standards that has been the subject of much litigation aimed at reducing water pollution from large-scale surface mines. Those provisions would have to be amended into the bill or added through a committee substitute, the lawyer said.

  12. 12
    Booger says:

    I am really looking hard for a fuck to give. Does coal make people stupid, like that episode of ST:TOS where the Blankenships lived in the cloud city?

  13. 13
    Van Buren says:

    I wish I could feel outraged, but this is what they voted for.
    Some people are just hard of learning.

  14. 14

    I’m seriously just out of fucks to give for these people, I’m sorry. They’re getting what the overwhelming majority of them voted for.

    ETA: and I see I have company!

  15. 15
    MobiusKlein says:

    What is also tragic – any mine operator spending the time and money to run a safe mine will be undercut by those running death traps.
    And the invisible knife will cut short the lives of many a miner.

  16. 16
    Ridnik Chrome says:

    What are the chances that this will actually pass?

  17. 17
    Belafon says:

    Mine safety was demanded by the employees first, which they had to literally fight the company for. I’m not sure why coal miners want to return to the late 1800s as far as work is concerned, but they’re going to.

  18. 18
    aimai says:

    Well, one hopes for a silver lining. Perhaps the few remaining coal miners and dying coal miners could get off their asses and vote for the party that tried to take care of their lives, land, and children? No? Probably not.

    My guess is that gutting the environmental regulations is more important, because in the long run corporations will prefer robots who can’t sue them for wrongful death and will simply get rid of workers who protest or vote their interests.

  19. 19
    MattF says:

    @aimai: However, robots that could deal with the unstable environments in coal mines would be quite expensive.

  20. 20
    rikyrah says:

    These are the people they voted for, Cole.

    Sad, but true

  21. 21
    Yarrow says:

    How’s this playing in West Virginia coal country? Do the coal miners–the actual workers, I mean–think this is great?

  22. 22
    Yarrow says:

    @Belafon:

    I’m not sure why coal miners want to return to the late 1800s as far as work is concerned, but they’re going to.

    At least in the late 1800’s they, or at least coal miners at that time, had jobs. Right now they don’t. They’ve decided that “regulations” means “fewer jobs.” So…I guess that means “no regulations” means “more jobs?”

  23. 23
    Belafon says:

    @Yarrow: There will be more people rotating through the same job, that’s for sure.

  24. 24
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Alesis: And most of all, government is designed to protect the strong against the weak and the rich against the poor. Government is big enough to where it can interfere with where we use the bathroom or whether we have babies, but it must be small enough so that it doesn’t regulate businesses or those with power.

    Twisted logic but they have all the power now so we’re going to have to live through this..

  25. 25
    Hungry Joe says:

    Why, this isn’t in the least insane: Blankenship once explained that if coal mining were really too dangerous, people wouldn’t do it. So there.

    “Run coal!” — Don Blankenship

  26. 26
    aimai says:

    @MattF: How many deep mines are there anymore? That are profitable? While the environmental destruction from surface mines is enormous.

  27. 27
    LAO says:

    Also — a general question about this — the proposed legislation is straightforwardly brutal. Is there no sense of shame left in the state legislature?

  28. 28
    bushworstpresidentever says:

    Well, they voted for Republicans, what did they expect? When miners get killed or injured, maybe it will count as “new” jobs for their replacements

  29. 29
    montanareddog says:

    The next bill, no doubt, will make it mandatory for miners and their families to shop only at the company store.

  30. 30

    @Yarrow: they also didn’t have to share those jobs with, you know…

    Those types.

  31. 31
    p.a. says:

    OT and on a more positive note, I just heard old ‘friend of the blog’ Boaty McBoatface goes on her first mission soon.

  32. 32
    PaulW says:

    It’s gonna take a disaster on the scale of hundreds dying before people realize how f-cked up this deregulation push by the corporate overlords is gonna be.

    Well, if that many West Virginians want to vote in politicians who reflect their views – HATE OBAMA AND THE EVUL COMMIE LIBTARDS THAT WILL DOOM THE COAL MINES – then this is what they get. Unfortunately they will get graveyards of entire families killed just for their willingness to succumb to fearmongering and pride.

  33. 33
    Humboldtblue says:

    It certainly fits the narrative presented by this author, once again we can thank Boomers.

    Plus mine disasters create jobs and ya can’t beat a good job creator.

  34. 34
    PaulW says:

    @montanareddog:

    There’s already a Wal-Mart in every valley.

  35. 35

    I am sorry the reserves of my sympathy run dry for people who cannot help themselves. They voted for this, now let them enjoy the consequences.

  36. 36
    Davebo says:

    “creating a new mandate for state-funded mine rescue teams.”

    Eliminate safety regulations then force the taxpayer to cough up for the inevitable disasters that follow.

    Freaking brilliant.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    MattF says:

    @aimai: There are probably few working underground mines– but that’s a guess. However, if human lives are cheap enough, there would be more.

  39. 39
    cynthia ackerman says:

    @MattF:

    Like their corporate creators, the robots will have legal personhood.

    And human employees who break the robots will be held fully responsible under criminal and terrorism laws.

  40. 40
    Ian says:

    I feel like the mine workers have had the worst going of it so far, except for Muslim immigrants and Hispanic immigrants. The miners pension and health care fund has been gutted, now we get this. News flash to coal miners: looks like the government is waging some kind of war against you. You have been screaming about a war on coal for eight years, now the war has come.

  41. 41
    Judge Crater says:

    Just one more indication that plutocracy has won. We’re heading for a “free market”, Dickensian future: “Let them have access,” is the new “Let them eat cake,” plutocratic response to the critical needs of the poor and dwindling middle class. Coal miners will now bear the liability for mine disasters. Just as sickness and death, in Paul Ryan’s blueprint for 21st century medical care, will be the fault of feckless consumers who choose not to avail themselves of the vast array of medical services that lie beyond their financial means.

    Taxes, meanwhile, will be adjusted so that the wealthy (like D. Trump) can escape the onerous provisions of things like the Alternative Minimum Tax.

    While the top one percent steals the wealth of the nation, crackpot cries about “nationalism” and our “cultural identity” will absorb the attention of America’s lethargic and ADD afflicted electorate.

  42. 42

    @Ian:

    I feel like the mine workers have had the worst going of it so far, except for Muslim immigrants and Hispanic immigrants.

    Damn liberal media, hiding the news about all those coal miners having their churches burned down and their holy books burned at parties, their parents deported. Why, you didn’t even read about those people who work in fracking who were murdered after being mistaken for coal miners!

  43. 43
    Oatler. says:

    @Humboldtblue: I am blocked from reading this article but the title suggests to me my idea that this is the true religion of America, that the Other (evil hippies) destroyed everything and that their “foul legacy” must be obliterated. Its why young people hate Jimmy Carter and Jane Fonda. We’re still fighting Vietnam, thanks to an industry and church that profits from keeping it alive.

  44. 44
    Humboldtblue says:

    @PaulW: Sheesh, that nails the fucking 90’s.

  45. 45
    Raoul says:

    THIS. IS. FUCKING. INSANE.

    And. Exactly. What. You. Get. When. You. Elect. Republicans. Repeatedly.

    Anyone can see that this would be (will be?) a disaster for WVa coal miners. But everything these days is a disaster for coal miners and their families. Voters in Appalachia have completely lost touch with what matters – their right to organize, work and live in decent safety. They are panicked that the industry is changing and shrinking (let’s face it, highly mechanized mountaintop removal may soon generate damn near NO jobs since robots can probably soon do 3/4th of the work with a guy in a control room). And fracking natural gas has decimated the demand for coal for electric power.

    The GOP of course offers NO options for retraining, creating jobs in non-extractive work, promoting entrepreneurship, or GTFOing from the long-shattered economies of those valleys.

    It’s just: screw black people more than me! That’s all I want as a poor (and poorly educated) WVa voter. My misery is soothed if others is worse. The human condition is shocking to behold some times, how people can be led to such miserable conclusions.

    Is there anyone doing any organizing work in WVa? I saw that a UMW person was quoted, but I think their view is too narrow – keeping mine jobs and nibbling at the edges re: safety. The rural voters of WVa need a huge popular education/organizing campaign, on the sort of scale that would cost millions and require a bunch of people with local, on the ground credibility, to move these voters to understand their own actual self-interest.

    Sadly, I just don’t see it happening. It is what Democrats should be doing. Spend a little less on endless attack ads late in election cycles, and spend it early on deep field work. But I ain’t holding my breath that Tom Perez is that smart, strategic or believes in core organizing work. I think Democrats have become too enamored of big data and urban turnout sweeps, and have abandoned the harder but more long-term sustainable work of year-to-year relationships and organizing.

    Bah!

  46. 46
    Kropadope says:

    Violations of health and safety standards wouldn’t produce state citations and fines, either. Mine operators would receive “compliance assistance visit notices.”
    And West Virginia regulators wouldn’t have authority to write safety and health regulations. Instead, they could only “adopt policies … [for] improving compliance assistance” in the state’s mines.

    Coal can’t compete with other sources of energy anymore. The WV legislature seems desperate to change that, using the favorite Republican method of reviving economic corpses rather than pursuing strong, live, healthy economic opportunities. Miners will almost certainly die as a result but a large subset of the folk who voted for Trump will gleefully exercise their right to work for not enough money in a death trap.

  47. 47

    @Oatler.: young people hate Jimmy Carter?

    And you’re not missing much, it’s actually a terrible article. I read it a while back, drawn by the headline. It’s written by if I recall a VC guy, with a book to sell. He mentions Paul Ryan favorably.

  48. 48
    Mr Wu's Pigs says:

    @Davebo: How do the lawyers that draft these documents sleep at night?

  49. 49
    Humboldtblue says:

    @Major Major Major Major: He is pushing that book, that’s for sure.

  50. 50
    Raoul says:

    Also, too, the 1899 reference is spot on. I know there is a lot being said about authoritarianism and possible parallels to the 1930s. But in some important ways, we are in the second Robber Baron era. Trump and his cronies are just bumbling, even less ethical versions of John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, etc.

  51. 51
    Miss Bianca says:

    Speaking of partying like 1899…and sorry to thread-jack but this has got my dander up even more than the miners’ plight…because unlike humans, other animals don’t get the opportunity of voting to protect their interests…

    “States rights” demands that grizzles and wolves be stripped of federal protections on federal lands…please contact your Senators about this!

  52. 52
    Mike in DC says:

    The basic problem is that, even in the face of an industry that has been in decline for decades, there’s been little diversification of the economy in coal country. So when the mines shut down for good, that’s pretty much it. So people with no other marketable skills and zero social mobility become desperate enough to agree to scrapping safety standards in the hopes of getting a job with decent pay and benefits.

  53. 53
    raven says:

    This reminds me of the M-16 malfunctions that cost many Marine lives at Hill 881. They issued a weapon that jammed because of design failure and then blamed it on the individual Marines.

  54. 54
    hovercraft says:

    @LAO:

    Sometimes, you get what you vote for.

    B.I.N.G.O.
    How do like the smell of all that freedom ?

  55. 55
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Vhh: It’s a pity that the Endangerment of White Xtian Ahmurrca actually comes at their own hands. I for one am getting thoroughly tired of their blaming their mass suicide on anyone but themselves.

  56. 56
    comrade scotts agenda of rage says:

    The modern GOP is always about privatization and wealth redistribution upwards.

    Yes, the Second Gilded Age is upon us after 30 years of the right working toward this goal. Perhaps a better description would be the Gilded Age on Steroids.

  57. 57
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Kropadope: I’m the daughter of a mining engineer (a Bircher before that was cool) and a former geologist (groundwater and environmental work, not mining). My dad was Mr. Safety and Follow the Regulations, but as FAUX has taken over his brain he’s now in the “all regulation is evil” camp; I’m not sure he’d fall for this though. We can’t talk about anything without it turning into him screaming, so we don’t talk at all.

    From my time around miners and drillers I know there is a general “safety stuff is stupid and not manly” attitude but grudging acceptance that it keeps you from getting hurt or killed; at least there was when I was in that field. I suspect that as hate media completely took over those fields that the idea that all regulations are evil is well entrenched. I doubt the WV miners or miner wannabes are going to speak out against this proposed legislation, and that’s seriously sad.

  58. 58

    @Humboldtblue: the beginning of the article is promising but by the end he’s gone so far up his own ass I’m surprised he was able to finish typing it.

  59. 59
    gene108 says:

    They are bringing coal mining jobs back to WVa. More mine workers die or are injured in mines, the more coal mining jobs come open every year!!!

  60. 60
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Yarrow:

    They’ve decided that “regulations” means “fewer jobs.”

    A decision based no doubt on the constant drumbeat to that effect over the last few decades by the right wing noise machine

    ETA: and while I was typing, StringOnAStick made the same point better and with more detail. Curses!

  61. 61
    amk says:

    Profits for me, deaths for thee.

    And the wwc voted for it. With open eyes and closed minds.

  62. 62
    Raoul says:

    @Belafon:

    I’m not sure why coal miners want to return to the late 1800s as far as work is concerned, but they’re going to.

    As mentioned, it is economics. Fracking has made natural gas super cheap, and utilities are converting from coal for base load generation. WVa coal miners may be poorly educated, but at some level they seem to understand that they have to produce coal ever cheaper (read: no safety, no water protection, no nuttin’) to be able to ‘compete’ against gas.

    As someone said upthread, ain’t capitalism grand? The rational response to such intense price competition would be to shut the mines that can’t produce cheap enough coal, and keep the latent value of the energy in the ground until prices improve, which — some day — they will. But, again, capitalism is shitty at these things, so the push is on to cheapen coal, and cheapen the lives of all who are near it.

    And for those who don’t give a fk about WVa coal miners, yeah, I get it. But the water pollution that is going to be part of this negation of regs will, quite literally, run down hill. And out of WVa and into lots of other people’s lives and even our already deeply stressed oceans. There is no walling off from what happens in WVa. If the robber barons can weaken protections in mines, they’ll go after other OSHA standards elsewhere.

  63. 63
    AliceBlue says:

    @montanareddog:
    With company-issued “money.”

  64. 64
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Mike in DC:

    The basic problem is that, even in the face of an industry that has been in decline for decades, there’s been little diversification of the economy in coal country.

    Wasn’t that driven by the coal companies, who didn’t want any competition from non-lethal jobs for the labor pool?

  65. 65
    Spanky says:

    Turning West Virginia blue, one mine explosion at a time.

  66. 66
    maya says:

    Bring back the breaker boys! Will be the next job creation masterpiece. And cap slogan

  67. 67
    Humboldtblue says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I agree, I thought he was going to provide a much stronger case for his book and he failed.

    @Miss Bianca: Local dairymen want state and federal protections for gray wolves removed. They argue the wolf is a hybrid from Canada and not native to California, a bigger, faster and stronger animal that can easily bring down a cow and they valid have concerns about the safety of their herds.

    I found this video from a Canadian family fascinating.

  68. 68

    @Raoul: Its a democracy, they voted for this when there was sane alternative available.

  69. 69
    Spanky says:

    It does disturb me that all the tailings, runoff, and the occasional body will run downhill, mostly into the Ohio.

  70. 70
    Steve in the ATL says:

    I had a fraternity brother from WV whose father and grandfather were coal company lawyers. He said high school was awkward because it was often his dad preventing his classmates’ dads from getting conpensation for their injuries.

    He broke the cycle though by becoming a coal/oil/gas lawyer himself.

    Also, he is fanatical that Pete Rose should be in the hall of fame, so his judgment may not always be reliable.

  71. 71
    SFBayAreaGal says:

    @comrade scotts agenda of rage: When our Supreme Court started ruling in favor of big business I knew then we were heading into the Gilded Age 2.0

  72. 72
    Aleta says:

    Every state is vulnerable to this: industry and groups like ALEC who write legislation and deliver it to the state house. All the more vulnerable as government regulations are taken away.

    Now these monsters show how fast existing regulations can be sidestepped.

    And ALEC: Choose candidates with white teeth, no expertise in reading comprehension or the Bill of Rights required. Campaign on “local control.” Get them elected, entertain them once a year and maintain group think. Provide talking points and communications directors. Put the legislation on their desks to sign or vote. Assure them of a job if voters throw them out. Put new ones in the pipeline.

  73. 73
    hovercraft says:

    @Belafon:

    Mine safety was demanded by the employees first, which they had to literally fight the company for. I’m not sure why coal miners want to return to the late 1800s as far as work is concerned, but they’re going to.

    Since these states put all their eggs in the coal basket, there aren’t a lot of alternatives for the miners, so they are willing to sacrifice their health and safety to keep their jobs. Problem is they know that coal is dying and has been dying for a long time, not just because of Obama’s “war on coal”. Other states and regions have had their primary industries die and have reinvented themselves, look at Pittsburgh or NC, the problem is that Appalachia has stubbornly clung to coal mining, and now people are willing to take jobs where their employers are actively working to make them less safe, and if the worst should happen blame them for their own demise.

    All that said, I still don’t have much sympathy for them, they keep electing people who’s only agenda is to screw them, despite repeated warnings. They celebrated Twitler as one of theirs, I hope they are still enjoying their victory, they sure did take their country back.

  74. 74
    danielx says:

    @Mike in DC:

    So, next time, 100 miners will die in a collapse.

    And clearly it will be the miners’ own fault, because reasons.

  75. 75
    cmorenc says:

    @Belafon:

    Mine safety was demanded by the employees first, which they had to literally fight the company for. I’m not sure why coal miners want to return to the late 1800s as far as work is concerned, but they’re going to.

    When coal-mining families vote for candidates who are against “job-killing regulations”, they are too stupid to realize that “job-killing” is literally what they’re voting for – as in, kill the workers through injury or mechanization or environmental contamination.

  76. 76
    Kropadope says:

    @hovercraft:

    They celebrated Twitler as one of theirs, I hope they are still enjoying their victory, they sure did take their country back.

    It has yet to be seen how far, though.

  77. 77
    Booger says:

    @bushworstpresidentever: Kinda like this :

  78. 78
    Immanentize says:

    “Are there no prisons?”
    “Plenty of prisons…”
    “And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
    “Both very busy, sir…”
    “Those who are badly off must go there.”
    “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

  79. 79
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Humboldtblue: Livestock guardian dogs and federal/state compensation for loss of livestock ought to do the trick, really. Because cattle, sheep and other livestock tenders will ALWAYS argue that any protection for non-human predators is too much protection. I live among ’em, so that much I know.

  80. 80

    @Humboldtblue: I was so excited when I saw the headline when my friend shared it on the book of faces. Oh well.

  81. 81
    gene108 says:

    @Raoul:

    The rural voters of WVa need a huge popular education/organizing campaign, on the sort of scale that would cost millions and require a bunch of people with local, on the ground credibility, to move these voters to understand their own actual self-interest.

    Sadly, I just don’t see it happening. It is what Democrats should be doing. Spend a little less on endless attack ads late in election cycles, and spend it early on deep field work. But I ain’t holding my breath that Tom Perez is that smart, strategic or believes in core organizing work. I think Democrats have become too enamored of big data and urban turnout sweeps, and have abandoned the harder but more long-term sustainable work of year-to-year relationships and organizing.

    Why do you think sticking it to African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, people who “look” Muslim, the gays, etc. is not what they feel is in their self-interest?

    The Self is made up of a lot more than just immediate economic needs. There are people, who make good money – not billionaire money, but a healthy six figure income – who don’t mind paying more in taxes to help the less fortunate. The economic hit fulfills their sense of Self, with regards to fairness.

    I really do think we underestimate how important it is for some folks to have some group to hate as part of their sense of Self.

  82. 82
    mellowjohn says:

    @Yarrow: of course it means more jobs. if you kill off enough of the people who currently work there, you’ve get a lot more job openings.

  83. 83
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: I read this before I read who wrote it, but I knew it was you. This was such a classic military f-up. And it seems we can’t do any better these days (although I hear the guns don’t routinely jam ….)

  84. 84
    Kay says:

    People do dangerous jobs and they need legal protections. However, I’m just not willing to donate time and energy to people who keep asking to get punched in the face. It seems my time would be better spent on the people who will be harmed by what will be a national move away from safety regs who DON’T ask to get punched in the face.

    That seems rational and prudent to me. They are literally REFUSING worker protections. I respect that decision they made. Protect the other people- the innocent victims.

  85. 85
    Immanentize says:

    @comrade scotts agenda of rage: “The gilded age with nukes” is more like it.

  86. 86
    danielx says:

    @LAO:

    Is there no sense of shame left in the state legislature?

    As I understand it, the state legislature – hell, WV state government in general – is pretty much a wholly-owned subsidiary of the coal mining industry. So that would be a large no.

  87. 87

    Well, if nothing else, this will put a lot of out of work miners back to work. After all, somebody is going to have to step in and take over for all the miners this law cripples, maims or kills.

  88. 88

    @gene108: yeah, I’m really getting sick of treating republican voters as if they don’t have agency.

  89. 89
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Raoul: When my dad would bitch about all the mining jobs and new mine projects being overseas thanks to it being cheaper there (because the labor force was expendable), my smart ass answer was “you know, let’s save what we have to mine later when it is really scarce and thus more profitable, and just take all their stuff first”. He’d sputter in rage, but the republican in him certainly saw the advantage in taking other country’s stuff because of course he did.

  90. 90
    BobbyK says:

    @jharp: Beat me to it. Can’t feel sorry for people that voted for the politicians that gutted the laws.

  91. 91
    Raoul says:

    @Mr Wu’s Pigs: How do the lawyers that draft these documents sleep at night? On big, thick piles of lobbying cash. Seems to make an all-too-comfortable mattress for many.

  92. 92
    Kropadope says:

    @Kay:

    That seems rational and prudent to me. They are literally REFUSING worker protections. I respect that decision they made. Protect the other people- the innocent victims.

    Like the people downstream? Sorry, you can’t avoid dealing with this group and expect to just help those who agree with you, their idiocy can’t be contained.

  93. 93
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Shanna, they bought their tickets…they knew what they were getting into. I say, let them crash.

  94. 94
    hovercraft says:

    @Kropadope:
    Tom Price is hinting to the states that they are willing to allow them to institute a “work requirement” for Medicaid to sweeten the pot and get more of them on board for Trumpcare, who knows what’s next, getting rid of all those pesky child labors laws? Can’t have all those free loaders holding us back.

  95. 95
    Damned at Random says:

    Every miner killed or disabled on the job opens up a job for someone else. Winning!

  96. 96
    Raoul says:

    @Mike in DC: The decades-long decline in coal has been accompanied by a decades-long decline in garment and furniture manufacturing, which IIRC have been centered around mid-Atlantic states, so even the option of migrating east to the Carolinas for low-skill (and some high skill) manual/manufacturing work is much harder.

  97. 97
    Immanentize says:

    @hovercraft:

    getting rid of all those pesky child labors laws?

    LaPage in Maine already suggested that.

  98. 98
    Dmbeaster says:

    @Mr Wu’s Pigs:

    How do the lawyers that draft these documents sleep at night?

    They sleep with Blankenship, and this sort of stuff gives them a woodie.

  99. 99
    FlipYrWhig says:

    West Virginia seems well on its way to becoming the white people’s equivalent of an Indian reservation.

  100. 100
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Raoul:

    Capital is notoriously shortsighted in application primarily due to an absence of consideration of the trained labor pool, the potential labor pool and unused raw resources as assets.

    In the “paradigm-breaking, 6 sigma” methodology of the modern MBA, personnel are little more than easily replaceable biological robots, and the employment manual is akin to the operator manual you get when you buy a new car.

    Large investors and C-suite occupants HAVE to have willfully compliant, sociopathic MBA types from middle management to upper levels of management in order to wring maximum production out of their biological robots. Were there to be decent consideration to future planning (something I think that Europe does better, primarily from fear of a more activist-minded labor pool), business would do better by its employees, its resource allocation and its treatment of conservation and environmental issues.

  101. 101
    NCSteve says:

    Speaking as a fellow Appalachian, I say fuck ’em. They voted for the inbred degenerates from “Deliverance” over and over again and now they get what they voted for because that’s what you said you wanted.

    If there was a way for AynRandCare to affect only Trump voters, I’d be for it too.

  102. 102

    @FlipYrWhig: hmm, legalized gambling might actually do wonders for the state.

  103. 103
    montanareddog says:

    @hovercraft:

    All that said, I still don’t have much sympathy for them, they keep electing people who’s only agenda is to screw them, despite repeated warnings. They celebrated Twitler as one of theirs, I hope they are still enjoying their victory, they sure did take their country back.

    Ditto the white working class of the North of England and their support for Brexit; voting to leave the one entity that ensured that infrastructure funds were spent in their part of the country and that certain worker’s rights were respected.

    What do they share in common with the wwc of the United States? Subject to decades of psychologically-brilliant propaganda from the yellow press of Rupert Murdoch. That repugnant specimen is the worst of the worst in my book. And he seems to have the longevity of Mugabe. The life-preserving paradox of pure evil.

  104. 104
    Sherparick says:

    @Alesis: Yep. It is neo-feudal. Also, this is why Conservatives want to send most political decisions to the states. It is easier for the local lords and ladies to buy a State Legislature then it is to buy the whole Congress, with representatives coming from the whole union and who may not be for purchase. (Although since Republicans across the country are united on low or non-existent taxes on the rich, this means that any law that cuts taxes on the rich will be supported and any law that calls for an increase will be fanatically opposed.

    Interesting article on nominee Gorsuch’s rich patron, Philip Anschutz, who loathes paying taxes but loves deceptively stealing from the rubes and accepting favors from the Government that enhance his vast fortune. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/14/us/politics/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court.html Like most modern Conservative Christians he believes that being nasty women, anti-abortion, and anti-LBGT is proof of holiness, and that the part of greed and pride and “thou shall not steal” are not to be taken literally, because those rules are “for little people.” He regards himself as a “self-made” man, even though the son of oil millionaire. A great reason to vote against Gorsuch as if we did not have enough already. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Anschutz

    But again, True and Pure Progressives out there, “What about her emails???”

  105. 105
    Another Scott says:

    Maybe someone already made this point, but from the original article:

    […]

    In an interview, Smith said he doesn’t necessarily support all provisions of the bill he introduced. For example, he said he doesn’t really support taking away so much of the state mine safety office’s enforcement power.

    “I’m the committee chairman, and we always introduce a bill and then we go through it and try to get something that everybody is good with,” Smith said. “If I could do it, I would conform with state laws and do away with federal laws, but that’s not going to happen. I would 10 times rather have the state agency telling us what to do instead of the federal.”

    “This is a huge bill,” Smith said. “Some of it will be in there, and I”m sure some of it won’t.”

    Last year, the UMW agreed to a bill that weakened several mine safety protections in an effort to avoid industry-pushed legislation that the union viewed as even worse. In 2015, then-Gov. Early Ray Tomblin signed legislation that weakened mine safety protections, despite a union call for a veto of that bill. Three years before that, in 2012, Tomblin’s legislative response to the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster — where drug use by miners was not an issue — was a bill that focused on drug testing the state’s coal miners.

    Tomblin’s legislation also called for a report that examined ways to improve the state’s mine safety program. That report was published in 2013, but lawmakers have never fully implemented its recommendations.

    Seems to be an awful lot of kabuki. :-/

    Here’s hoping that the bill doesn’t pass, but it sounds like it’s a lost cause.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  106. 106
    SFAW says:

    @Spanky:

    Turning West Virginia blue

    Dream on. Just because Tom Frank wrote about Kansas doesn’t mean it was/is the only state where the voters consistently vote against their own interests.

  107. 107
    rikyrah says:

    Ryan is eager to share credit (and blame) for GOP health care bill
    03/15/17 10:50 AM
    By Steve Benen
    You’ve probably heard the expression, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” The point, obviously, is that when something goes right, many want to take credit, and when something goes wrong, many try to avoid blame. But what if failure can have many fathers, too?

    The Republican health care plan is obviously struggling – opposition from within the GOP is, by every available metric, growing – and the discussion about who’s responsible for this fiasco is getting louder. With that in mind, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who unveiled the American Health Care Act just last week, talked to Fox Business this morning, where the Republican leader seemed eager to share credit/blame for his bill.

    “Obviously, the major components [of the existing legislation] are staying intact, because this is something we wrote with President Trump. This is something we wrote with the Senate committees. So just so you know, Maria, this is the plan we ran on all of last year. This is the plan we’ve been working – House, Senate, White House – together on.”

    ……………….

    But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Ryan is acutely aware of the fact that if/when this bill fails, the fingers will be pointed directly at him. It’s why the Wisconsin congressman is preemptively trying to spread the blame around – as if this weren’t the bill he and his team wrote in secret.

    As for the idea that Republicans “all” ran on this legislation in 2016, this is plainly silly. Last June, Ryan unveiled what he described as his “Better Way” agenda, including an outline of some of his health care goals. Sure, the document existed, but it wasn’t legislation; it included no substantive details; he released no real data that could be scrutinized; and the outline amounted to “37 pages of talking points.”

    Ryan’s reference to the election is apparently an attempt to claim a mandate, as if Americans consciously and deliberately endorsed the Republican health care plan that’s pending in Congress. It’s hard to imagine even the Speaker believing such a claim.

  108. 108
    lollipopguild says:

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford: Very nice “Airplane” reference.

  109. 109
    opiejeanne says:

    @Humboldtblue: Yeah, we gave birth to you, changed your diapers. wiped your runny noses, fed you, clothed you, housed you, tried to make sure you succeeded in school, sat up late nights with you helping you with the project due tomorrow that you only remembered at 8pm, after the library had closed for the evening. We tried to pay for all of your college costs even as we struggled to remain employed in the rapidly changing workplace, because so many of us put ourselves through college and the ability to do so even at a state college was already disappearing in the 70s.
    We watched the generation in between our parents’ and ours succeed in ways we never could, despite having achieved higher education levels than they did. When we got to the table, so to speak, those jobs didn’t come with platinum health care coverage for life, like my dad’s job did. We had good coverage but nothing like his, and he couldn’t understand why that was, while he voted R. My husband retired a couple of years early, but not in his 50s like so many of that in-between generation did because we couldn’t afford it.
    And yes, some of the ones a little older than I marched in Selma. I had a friend who had an FBI dossier with his name on it. And some of us did protest the Vietnam war, but many of us went there and died or came back with terrible injuries.

    Almost forgot, we never created anything worth having. Not a damned thing you can name.

    So yes, blame us and never look at that Greatest Generation for the cause of your misery today, or that half-generation that was too young for WWII but born before 1945. Never look at them because those are your Gordon Geckos and they just aren’t as big and juicy a target as we are.

    God, I’m so damned sick of this narrative.

  110. 110
    hovercraft says:

    @gene108:
    The ruling class has been pitting the rest of us against each other for centuries in order to distract us from the fact that they are robbing us blind. While we all squabble for the meager leavings, they make off with all the benefits of our labor. It’s been working for generations in all of it’s various forms. Why do think we can all recite “No Blacks, No Dogs, and NO ________” fill in the blank, there always has to be a place to direct peoples anger. The fact that it’s worked for so long doesn’t excuse the people who fall for it, hence my lack of sympathy, but this is tried and true. The “good folk” of coal country just “know” that it’s the “liberal elites” who have driven down the profitability of the coal mining industry to the point that they’ve forced the poor coal companies to sacrifice safety standards just to stay in business. Never mind that they know that’s bullshit and that this began decades ago. They are complicit in their own demise, so I say have at it.
    When we are not getting in our own way, the democratic coalition has become more aware of this dynamic, and we try to overcome our differences for the greater good, we have become much better at standing up for each others causes, except when we descend into our purity contests. I guess the fact that we are the party of empathy helps, but these fools have just about used up any empathy I ever had for them.

  111. 111
    Kay says:

    @Kropadope:

    I was with you until Trump. At some point there has to be a reckoning. They can’t have quality of life and no regulation and no taxes. It’s impossible. It’s a fantasy. This is always presented as if liberals are these pie in the sky dreamers but the fact is conservatives live in a fantasy world where no one takes any responsibility and no one pays for anything. Part of the reason they can live in that fantasy world is they’re confident liberals will be there fretting about safety and mitigating the worst of the ideology. These protections they enjoy and institutions they rely upon are taken for granted. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being the mommy who says “you’re gonna fall in that hole you just dug!”. They make fun of us for this. They don’t even respect it. They respect people like Trump. They admire him. They think that’s how “winners” behave. Does that reflect on them? Yes.

  112. 112
    Raoul says:

    @GrandJury:

    A lot of the voters who elected these people are obviously coal miners.

    Per BLS, about 19,000 West Virginians work in mining and logging (their category). With steeply declining workforce rates. Now, these workers have parents, siblings, kids, etc. And coal towns rely on those jobs to keep stores, restaurants and ancillary services going.

    But the industry is really extremely small in terms of direct jobs any more. Huge in WVa self-identity, and huge in terms of environmental risk (see mountaintop removal, mine acid flows, etc).

    That said, I don’t have any great ideas of how a state like WVa could reinvent itself for the 21st century. But coal really isn’t king any more.

    Course, if Trumpism succeeds and flourishes, I have a terrible feeling more and more of the US will be like WVa, left behind in a global economy that can soon afford to ignore the US as we make backwards idiots of ourselves.

  113. 113

    None of this is going to make coal competitive. The thing to watch for will be proposals to re-regulate the wholesale electricity market. If anybody wants to “bring coal jobs back”, it is necessary and sufficient to double or triple the price of electric power. But even then, no mines will be re-opened, no coal-burning power plants re-started, unless the full cost of de-mothballing is paid by state and/or Federal government.

  114. 114
    gvg says:

    So if they repeal regulations that specifically protect minors, I don’t see that they repeal laws that protect everyone all the time, like murder and manslaughter and other protections for all workers nationwide and statewide. The woman who works at the schools or walmart won’t think she should be at risk if the store/school has rickity equipment ready to fall on her, nor will a customer or parent of a school kid. the legislature can’t get away from repealing everything and therefore mine owners can still go to jail after the fact and also be sued by non miners. I imagine insurance companies could also hike the rates for the less safe mines, in fact they would have to to cover costs. If the state won’t inspect anymore, then the insurance companies will have to do their own inspections or refuse to insure. Mines maybe self insured but that means one disaster with the right monetary costs could wipe out some mine companies..
    I do think murder is the right charge. I would want to charge the legislators who vote for this too but that probably is too much to hope for.

  115. 115
    hovercraft says:

    @montanareddog:
    Well said.
    It’s so funny you mention Mugabe, my Mom was bitching this morning after our snow/ice storm yesterday, that it’s his fault she’s stuck here in this frozen hellscape. If he’d just die already she could at least spend the winters back home.

  116. 116
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Yarrow: sure, because everybody becomes too ill or injured to work or, of course, killed it opens up another job! Success!

  117. 117
  118. 118
    LAC says:

    @Major Major Major Major: you do!

    Fucks given: 0.00000%. Enjoy your black lung coughing with your non existent health care. You can continue to blame obama.

  119. 119
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    I have sympathy for the fresh-out-of- high school lads (and lasses?) who go to work in the mines who are ignorant, misinformed or indoctrinated into the regional myth of King Coal. The kids who were born and bred to scurry the shafts in darkness.

  120. 120
    montanareddog says:

    @LAC: But because President Obama is such a decent and empathetic man, I hope he is not beating himself up, wondering if this horror show could have been avoided if he had somehow handled things differently.

  121. 121
    Kropadope says:

    @Kay:

    I was with you until Trump. At some point there has to be a reckoning. They can’t have quality of life and no regulation and no taxes. It’s impossible. It’s a fantasy. This is always presented as if liberals are these pie in the sky dreamers but the fact is conservatives live in a fantasy world where no one takes any responsibility and no one pays for anything.

    So should we start supporting an agenda that allows states more autonomy; let wealthy blue states keep more of their resources to do amazing things we’ve so far been pushing at the federal level, form pacts to meet mutual needs with other willing states (prob also mostly blue), and let the red states tear themselves to shreds?

    I’m actually entirely down with that, but the Democratic zeitgeist seems to generally support more centralization of power. What about the non-sociopathic people who live in areas dominated by Trumpeters?

  122. 122
    LAC says:

    @montanareddog: yeah. Maybe got that white guy look surgery sooner. Ahhh, the missed opportunities…🙄🙄

  123. 123
    Kryptik says:

    They want coal jobs back so much they want the return of the days where coal companies literally ruled everything and had zero accountability in those communities.

    This is what “bringing back coal jobs” mean in practice at this point.

  124. 124
    gene108 says:

    @Raoul:

    Per BLS, about 19,000 West Virginians work in mining and logging (their category). With steeply declining workforce rates.

    Paul Krugman had an opinion piece up a little while back about how Coal Mining is more a state of mind than an actual state of being.

    When Coal Mining was big, the small towns in Appalachia were relatively well-to-do, they had more people in them, and the current problems of opiod addiction and lack of jobs was not a reality; times were better.

    Bring coal jobs back and you end up going back in time to those better days, as far as people’s perceptions are concerned.

  125. 125
    Kay says:

    @Kropadope:

    I just came to this decision this week. I don’t have a plan :)

    The Obamacare thing did me in. If they don’t want Medicaid they can just give it back. I don’t care what happens to them. Medicaid is for people who want health care, not these people who don’t.

  126. 126
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @bushworstpresidentever:

    Well, they voted for Republicans, what did they expect?

    Most likely it’s the Blue Hairs on Social Security are the ones voting the Republcians into office to stop the evil dark skinned sluty slut sluts from killing their babies and kill the Blue Hair’s own grandsons.

  127. 127
    Kryptik says:

    @gene108:

    I wonder how many people remember times before, when coal towns were basically fiefdoms, complete with their own currency (or ‘scrip’) and the coal companies basically had accountability only to themselves?

    Or is that conveniently forgotten?

  128. 128
    RobertB says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Statewide legalized gambling might have worked 10-20 years ago, but not now. There are too many casinos, in too many towns, to make a casino the huge draw that it used to be. In 1992 I took a three-hour flight to Las Vegas to get my gambling fix. Now there’s a casino 15 minutes from my house.

  129. 129

    @opiejeanne: Tim Berners-Lee? Steve Wozniak? Puh-leeze. Who uses Apple products or websites these days?

  130. 130
    cain says:

    @Mike in DC:

    The basic problem is that, even in the face of an industry that has been in decline for decades, there’s been little diversification of the economy in coal country. So when the mines shut down for good, that’s pretty much it. So people with no other marketable skills and zero social mobility become desperate enough to agree to scrapping safety standards in the hopes of getting a job with decent pay and benefits.

    Benefits? What benefits? Those people are desperate enough to just work for a cheap wage. It is the only thing they know. They don’t want to diversify, yet they also worship the free market Jesus. Like in nature, these people will die off because there is nothing sustaining them. They’ll get converted into meth heads, living in a high crime. Meanwhile, newspapers will continue to churn out articles about ‘flyover country’ being where the real Americans are… zombies, dying off with no resources, no healthcare, and no prospects while the people they vote for, evangelicals leaders they listen to suck the marrow from them till there is nothing left.

  131. 131
    LAC says:

    @Kryptik: you mean they were not the backdrops to chevy ads showing what real amuuuricans look like?

  132. 132
    danielx says:

    @gene108:

    I really do think we underestimate how important it is for some folks to have some group to hate as part of their sense of Self.

    O yes….and some of those folks aren’t just po’ white trash, either. It’s like they aren’t fulfilled in some way unless there is an Other to hate/fear/look down upon. Although it does make you wonder at the amount of effort they put into it, emotional and (in some cases) physical; what else could they be accomplishing? Serious gun freaks are that way, only more so – their whole identity is bound up in firearms, which is they view any hint of regulation as an existential threat.

  133. 133
    Kropadope says:

    @Kay:

    I just came to this decision this week. I don’t have a plan :)

    Well, I’d say let’s all work on it, but I have to go for a few hours, so calling for that without participating would be hypocritical of me.

  134. 134
    bemused says:

    @hovercraft:

    How many people who qualify for Medicaid do these evil assholes think are able to work?

  135. 135
    The Moar You Know says:

    That said, I don’t have any great ideas of how a state like WVa could reinvent itself for the 21st century.

    @Raoul: I don’t either, and that’s really the problem, isn’t it? The people who live there, all they can think of is “coal” because that’s all they’ve ever done. You’re not going to turn it into a tourist paradise, the climate is not there. You can’t grow much because everything’s on a mountainside. No manufacturing because you’d have to spend a trillion dollars upgrading roads to get raw materials in and goods out, and manufacturing is going away anyhow.

    I have no idea what would help any of those people save for a government-funded evacuation program. I hope it doesn’t come to that, and someone smarter than I can help these folks to a new way of making a living, because this coal thing…even if you make it as cheap as possible, no regulations, safety, cleanup, anything…it can’t work. Natural gas is going to kill it dead.

  136. 136
    Kropadope says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I don’t either, and that’s really the problem, isn’t it? The people who live there, all they can think of is “coal” because that’s all they’ve ever done. You’re not going to turn it into a tourist paradise, the climate is not there. You can’t grow much because everything’s on a mountainside. No manufacturing because you’d have to spend a trillion dollars upgrading roads to get raw materials in and goods out, and manufacturing is going away anyhow.

    Build up other places and make it easier for people to move.

  137. 137

    @The Moar You Know: Well, considering they won’t even let us give them bare-bones health insurance, and consistently refuse to avail themselves of education or retraining, I’m beyond caring about trying to revitalize any of their industries.

    ETA: @Kropadope: This! Of course, even socialist hellholes like California can’t get their act together and build enough housing or transportation for the people who even live here, not to mention the ones who want to move, but that’s more related to selfishness and voter idiocy than Republicans per se.

  138. 138
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @Kropadope:

    So tourism is not a meaningful possibility? Never been to WV, but I recall John Denver singing about it: “…Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River….”

  139. 139
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Another Scott: The trick with the “states rights” crowd is to remember that, while they detest federal regulation with a passion, they have no issue whatever with individual states enacting most regulations (provided they don’t advantage Those People™ or impede the Free Market™ or Religious Liberty™). The same, though, canNOT be said of municipalities desiring stronger protections than the state in which they reside (hence NC’s HB2 following on Charlotte’s LGBT+ protections ordinance). The dichotomy – and the presumption that only Washington is prone to overreach – is maddening.

  140. 140
    Kropadope says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Of course, even socialist hellholes like California can’t get their act together and build enough housing or transportation for the people who even live here, not to mention the ones who want to move

    Maybe if CA weren’t paying the federal government so much to help people who refuse to help themselves.

    that’s more related to selfishness and voter idiocy than Republicans per se.

    Tomayto Tamahto.

  141. 141
  142. 142
    boatboy_srq says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): Tourism would be magnificent, but you have to get to the touristy spots. With the roads habitually neglected, pretty soon that will need an ATV, and you’ll need to schlep in your own food and water unless toxic mining byproducts are part of your diet.

  143. 143
    Kropadope says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while):

    So tourism is not a meaningful possibility?

    That was the Moar You Know’s assertion, not mine. 80% of what I know about WV I learned here.

    “…Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River….”

    But one thing I learned from the NY Times back during Bush the Lesser was that they’re now decapitating the mountains and the Republicans are now re-enabling them to dump the undesirable portion of the mountain plus industrial waste into the rivers. So we may be too late for that solution.

    @boatboy_srq:

    With the roads habitually neglected, pretty soon that will need an ATV

    Spun correctly, that actually sounds like an excellent tourist attraction.

  144. 144
    hovercraft says:

    @bemused:
    All of them. These people are monsters, the people on Medicaid who are not working and capable of working are looking for a job already, because they are on some other state benefit that already has a work requirement. The rest obviously cannot work, but to republicans they must be useful for something, in their minds they think for sure some business could use some virtually free labor provided by the state. I mean they’ve gotta be good for something, right? Someone must be able to figure out how to make buck off them.

  145. 145
    goblue72 says:

    Why is anyone surprised? Voters for decades have had two choices: a centrist technocrat party that is modestly liberal on purely social issues and a right-wing business party with ethno-populist trappings. There is very little for nonprofessional class workers to find in either party, so they either (a) completely abandon participation in the system or (b) follow whichever party’s flag they perceive as waving for their ethnicity. And since whites still far outnumber non-whites, the right-wing business party with ethno-populist trappings wins.

    Over and over and over again.

    The centre-left parties in Europe, which are all basically technocrat parties, are facing the same thing. “Technocrat” is not a viable voter constituency for long term success. Look what it did to the UK Labour Party. It destroyed it. That the SNP – a previously fringe party – was able to completely replace Labour in Scotland – which was to the UK Labour Party what California & New England are to the Democratic Party in terms of where its most consistently liberal/left base is located – should never have happened.

  146. 146
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    I stopped counting after I hit 20 comments that said: “Well that’s what they voted for, too bad, boo hoo.”

    Compare this with the outrage that people still manage at Trumpcare. Where’s the “Oh, well, that’s what America voted for.” (And please you stupid pedantic fucks, spare me the “but the popular vote …”)

    Why the difference?

    Are people incapable of understanding that while many West Virginians did, in effect, vote for this type of government, not all did?

    Is it just that it’s easy to other the feckless hillbillies, most of whom haven’t even read Derrida?

    I am truly curious about what makes such a large part of the Ballon Juice commentariat turn into sanctimonious pricks who parrot neo-Calvinist claptrap when poor coal miners about to get screwed over yet again.

  147. 147

    @Kropadope:

    Maybe if CA weren’t paying the federal government so much to help people who refuse to help themselves.

    Prop 13 was not caused by this.

    ETA: I’d love to stick around and talk about CA housing policy more, but I see the cavalry has arrived, so I’m out of here.

  148. 148
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Kropadope: Attractive for the off-road set themselves? Sure. Reliable to get tourists the foodstuffs, laundry, accessories, brochures, etc they will need? Not so much. And FSM help the folks who want to bring small children.

  149. 149
    cain says:

    @Raoul:

    Well, high tech would be where you would go, you could attract companies that build robotics or other things. Blue collar jobs in general are declining. At some point, you need to figure out some other skills that would work.

    Frankly, I never thought coal jobs were that great.. wasn’t there a point in the late 30s or something where it was pretty much indentured servitude? Forced to live in company towns, on company homes, shopping at company stores?

  150. 150
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @boatboy_srq: Rebuilding the roads, etc., would provide decent paying blue collar jobs for years to come.

  151. 151
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    What the fuck all are you talking about?

    WV’s “interstates” are better maintained that those iI usually drive on in CA. The secondary roads are about the same.

    In fact, due to the legacy of Sen. Byrd funneling federal funds to WV roadbuilding, the roads there are actually way over capacity for the traffic that exists. There were a couple of times last fall that I found myself on a well maintained multilane arterial where I was the only car in sight.

  152. 152
    Parfigliano says:

    @jharp: Yup. No sympathy. Go die in the mines.

  153. 153
    Cecilia says:

    @Oatler.: The article basically absolves Reagan (and Nixon, since the Vietnam era is discussed) from any responsibility at all for any of the disasters spawned by his administrations, and blames it all on — wait for it — Bill Clinton! In other words, it’s a rehash of widely considered Clinton criticisms and well-worn generational stereotypes, so you aren’t missing much. It was written by this guy: “Bruce Cannon Gibney is a venture capitalist and writer and the author of the forthcoming book ‘A Generation of Sociopaths: How The Baby Boomers Betrayed America.'” So, a guy with an old — and not necessarily useful, true or worthwhile — idea to sell. Somebody on the Globe’s feature desk probably thought it was good for a few extra clicks.

  154. 154
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @Kropadope:

    Already a big attraction: http://www.trailsheaven.com

  155. 155
    sukabi says:

    The ONLY recourse for that bullshit is a complete rejection of mine work…too bad there aren’t other avenues for those folks to make a living….

    What would be awesome is to have some environment friendly multibillionaire, come in and set up either something like a solar or wind component manufacturing plant…

    And also a unicorn breeding ranch.

  156. 156
    bemused says:

    @hovercraft:

    Of course they are monsters monsters who disguise themselves as Christians and the gatekeepers of compassionate conservatism, family values and god-given American freedoms and principles.

  157. 157
    ruckus says:

    What isn’t FUCKING INSANE about conservatism?

    The answer is of course Fucking all of it is fucking insane Katie!

  158. 158
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Jacques Derrida? What the fuck?

  159. 159
    TenguPhule says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I have no idea what would help any of those people

    They could volunteer to be the most dangerous game for bored rich white folk.

    At least then they’d get more dignity out of the deal.

  160. 160
    TenguPhule says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    I am truly curious about what makes such a large part of the Ballon Juice commentariat turn into sanctimonious pricks who parrot neo-Calvinist claptrap when poor coal miners about to get screwed over yet again.

    Something about how those “poor coal miners” pissed in our faces with Trump and decades of unending GOP senators and electors. At some point, sympathy is replaced by a middle finger.

  161. 161
    TenguPhule says:

    @bemused:

    How many people who qualify for Medicaid do these evil assholes think are able to work?

    No work, no care.

    Its all about not spending money that could be better used for tax cuts.

  162. 162
    kindness says:

    John it’s high time you move out of WV. You can still visit regularly. There are flights.

  163. 163
    trollhattan says:

    While it may be fine and ducky to dispatch miners to their own fates I’m not sanguine about it, given that the mine owners will be enriching themselves over a literal pile of bodies–whether dead from dramatic disaster or creeping silicosis is irrelevant. Importantly, suspending already weak environmental regs impacts people and the environment far removed from the industry, including adjacent states. And while there are federal work safety and environmental laws that have primacy, we now have empty staffs and blind regulators ensuring they’ll stay on the sidelines.

    Auto safety regulations have saved thousands of drivers dead-set against wearing safety belts or buying cars with airbags. I lump Trump-voting miners with them, we should save them because its right, regardless of what we think of them. And remember–some quietly voted Hillary.

    My $0.02

  164. 164
    TenguPhule says:

    @trollhattan:

    While it may be fine and ducky to dispatch miners to their own fates I’m not sanguine about it, given that the mine owners will be enriching themselves over a literal pile of bodies–whether dead from dramatic disaster or creeping silicosis is irrelevant.

    They can simply return to the golden days of yore, when miners brutally slaughtered the mine owners and their families in revenge for mine disasters.

    Money and energy are simply better spent elsewhere.

  165. 165
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @TenguPhule:

    You’re blaming Trump on WV’s 5 electoral votes?

    You ignorant shit head.

  166. 166
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    Let’s see – here’s some piece of legislation that is going to screw the working class in Pennsyslvania or Ohio or Wisconsin.

    Well, good, fuck them all, they’re why we have Trump. Let the unwashed masses suffer. Fuck them.

    There, have I captured the Balloon Juice commenters overweening self regard accurately?

  167. 167
    bemused says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    The coal miners are very similar to the miners on the iron ranges in NE Minn. There are signs “We Support Mining” everywhere up here. We do have tourism in land of lakes, snowmobiling, skiing, fishing, hunting in beautiful country with decent roads. The pro-mining folks are desperate for mine haydays to return but those days are gone. Mining still here but it’s the usual story: mining changed by automation, needing fewer employees, wages and benefits not as great as decades ago, ore prices determined by the global market, ownerships now in hands of ever changing investment corps, etc. People concerned about new mining areas especially copper-nickel mining harming or ruining our water forever and our parks like the BWCA are considered traitors by many who think the mines assurances and studies are good enough. Pro-miners don’t want to self-invent to break the decades long economic dependence on mining or give our healthy tourism credit for bringing millions of dollars to our area that stays here.

  168. 168
    Gravenstone says:

    @Yarrow:

    So…I guess that means “no regulations” means “more jobs?”

    And dead miners means new job openings. Sad, but true.

  169. 169
    TenguPhule says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    You’re blaming Trump on WV’s 5 electoral votes?

    No, I’m blaming WV’s consistant voting and support for the Republicans. Pay attention. We had a national test of decency. WV failed it.

  170. 170
    TenguPhule says:

    @Amaranthine RBG:

    Let the Trump supporters suffer. Fuck them.

    Corrected for accuracy, MissTroll.

  171. 171
    Amaranthine RBG says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Let’s see – about 30% of West Virginians voted for Clinton. Are they just collateral damage in your estimation?

    Or do you have some way of making sure that only Trump voters are killed when the roof of a mine collapses.

    You truly are a sick ignorant cockbrain.

  172. 172
    Jado says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    But…but…but…She was a WOMAN!! And a CLINTON!!! AND A DEMOCRAT!!!!

    Just cause she was sane doesn’t mean they could bring themselves to VOTE for her…

  173. 173
    ericblair says:

    @GrandJury:

    Unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunity etc. are the fever swamps where demagogs, extremists, and fascist thrive.

    Unless the unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunity is in the urban core with urban-colored folks, in which case not so much. Sure, you get bullshit artists and crooks, but nothing like a photo negative of the modern GOP. Most of these people want government to fix their problems, where white rural voters want someone to blame for them.

  174. 174
    Miss Bianca says:

    So, I posted a link to this article in another thread, but it seems apropos for this one, as well…

    A lot of white progressives I know are all like, “yay-ee, Mr. Wilmer went to West Virginia and spoke some truth to powerlessness! This means that Democrats can win over Trump voters by appealing to their *true* economic interests!”

    Uh…maybe not.

    http://www.vox.com/world/2017/.....g-populism

    There’s at least suggestive evidence, as my colleague Andrew Prokop writes, that Sanders misread the election results — that embracing left-wing populism won’t, in fact, win over Trump voters.

    Take a look at results from several pivotal Senate races. In two Midwestern states, Wisconsin and Ohio, Democrats ran Sanders-esque populists — former Sen. Russ Feingold and Gov. Ted Strickland, respectively. Both lost by a wider margin than Hillary Clinton did in their state. By contrast, the Democratic candidates who most outperformed Clinton’s statewide results — Missouri’s Jason Kander and Indiana’s Evan Bayh — ran as economic centrists.

    The bigger issue is that America’s welfare state is weak for the same fundamental reason that Donald Trump captured the Republican nomination in the first place: racial and cultural resentment. That profoundly complicates efforts to make left-wing populism successful in America.

    Whole thing is worth a read. tl:dr version: Racism is a hell of a drug, and white America is addicted to it. We’re not going to solve that problem by telling Trump voters to vote their economic interests, because given the choice between their economic anxiety and their racial anxiety, evidence suggests that most white people are going to vote their racial anxiety every.damn.time.

    In 2001, three scholars at Harvard and Dartmouth — Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote — found that the higher the percentage of black residents in a state, the less its government spent on welfare payments.

    This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

    The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

    Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

  175. 175
    Aleta says:

    @Raoul: I have one guess– that WVa (and other poor states) may be used to locate more plants for hazardous waste treatment and storage, or to locate bigger dumps. (Like the Michigan Disposal Waste Treatment Plant in Belleville (Detroit), or the mercury removal plant in Union Grove, Wis. Or Calgon Carbon in Kentucky.)

    To me this legislation is about more than coal, and much more than people in WVa. Mining in Maine for example; and in general, handling and disposal of toxic waste.

    Already toxic waste is being sent around the country for processing in different stages, from one plant to another and on to another. Even with the previous EPA, the plants operate despite continuing violations of the Federal Acts for clean water, clean air, etc. Some toxins are removed, but some spill out, or some waste gets mishandled and sent on without processing. The processing generates more waste, larger volumes.

    Until now, processing at a plant has to follow EPA standards. Also, state rules for both transport and storage have to meet or exceed the EPA’s. I fear this kind of legislation and the dismantling of the EPA will change that. Already the records on waste shipments between states are hard to find.

    Whatever happens in WVA isn’t going to stay in WVa. What happens there might travel through a lot of other states.

  176. 176
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:

    Eh, they just want to streamline the regs for all those thousands of mining jobs that are coming back.

  177. 177
    Citizen Alan says:

    These people are basically medieval peasants. They think God put them on this Earth to work the land. And they think the people who own the land were anointed by God and are intrinsically better than them. They want nothing more out of life then to do the same work that their parents and grandparents did. And they get offended and angry at their children for daring to expect anything better for themselves or God forbid going off to college and coming back with “fancy airs and book learning.”

  178. 178
    Van Buren says:

    @Amaranthine RBG: Because Trump was +42% in West Virginia. After giving fucks for immigrants, women, children,poor people, the disabled, wolves, bears, the atmosphere,science, and scientists, I found my bag of fucks was empty when it came to caring about West by God Virginians who actively sought this.

  179. 179
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @Van Buren:

    Well… when you put it that way….

    It’s unspoken, but it’s one of those “not all West Virgians” things.

  180. 180
    Groucho48 says:

    We should give a shout-out to the Charleston Gazette-Mail and to the reporter, Ken Ward, Jr. That was an excellent article.

  181. 181
    Tripod says:

    Desperate and doomed to fail.

    They’re trying to drive the price down at the mine mouth. Powder River Coal is 80% cheaper per short ton. Factor in the NG glut and power plant conversions, and that’s all she wrote.

    Diversify to what? Those hollers are a hundred miles from nowhere. Mountains make for high transportation costs. Want to expand the plant? Remove half a mountain. Try recruiting a young, diverse and skilled workforce to the land of derp.

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