251 – Closed Minds or Open Mines

By Hetty Gray

April 27, 2018

# 251

“Closed Minds, Open Mines”

Accustomed to writing a column once a week for decades, I find myself writing when a topic strikes me as particularly germane. Not one to shy away from politics given my background as a history and government teacher, determination tops reticence when the situation demands it.

I have friends from West Virginia. I remember when coalmines splashed across the front pages of widely read newspapers (nearly extinct) to cover a mine disaster. Lives cut short deep underground and the anguished waiting as families gathered to learn if their loved ones were dead or alive. Banner headlines and broadcast news reports kept the public up to speed on the turn of events.

Mining is a hazardous business. I can appreciate that because my husband is a farmer and farming ranks high among dangerous occupations. Although mining losses come in high numbers when a disaster strikes, farm deaths continue to mount one by one over time. More often than not, one can chalk many of the deaths up to inattention. The old saying that a “careless farmer is a dead farmer” rings true yet today. Safety, you see, is job one.

There is a gentle charisma among miners. Loretta Lynn brought the close family life to America in her poignant ballad, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” With technology front and center on the job front, younger Americans have lost the respect for hard work. Hard work. Dirty work. Needed work. Families are close. Families cling to faith. Never take electricity for granted. Miners began the wattage you use. They move the gears of this country. Far too often, we fail to remember that.

The industry cites a great supply and the federal government affirms it. The U.S. Energy Information Association gives the following facts. “Based on U.S. coal production in 2016 of about 0.73 billion short tons, the recoverable coal reserves would last about 348 years, and recoverable reserves at producing mines would last about 23 years. The actual number of years that those reserves will last depends on changes in production and reserves estimates.” The map that follows illustrates just where those reserves are.

Yet, it was not so long ago that one of the most contentious political discussions in the 2016 presidential campaign hinged on coal. One candidate pledged to “put coal companies out of business.” And, as if that were not enough, the public was encouraged to believe that coal was the worst possible source for power. Clamoring for renewable sources is fine, but there are drawbacks. Remember, please, that wind is highly subsidized. Without subsidies, wind would not be affordable.

We evolve. With every generation we see great strides in energy. Just consider energy early in the 20th century and compare that to what we use today. Even with all the computer savvy jobs, the nation requires affordable transportation and electricity.

Enter a president who understands business and resources. Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to remember the coal miners. He recognized the importance of coal production.

Once hobbled by government regulations and restrictions, the clean coal industry (yes, clean!) is once again working away below ground to claim the fuel to generate the electricity that fuels our economy. The widely dispersed comments masked a hidden political goal — government-run lives. A public without choice is crippled.

Our government holds the reins to the economy, and when it unleashes the ingenuity and determination of the American worker, literally nothing is impossible. In the 1970s some began to issue warnings about “global cooling.” Few bought the line, so their tactic changed. “Global warming” became the mantra.

Odd situation. You see, those who push the dangers of fossil fuel fly around on jets but want us to drive electric cars. Nice logic, huh? They pocket huge sums of money and solicit donations from the public convinced that we are fueling our own demise. With hundreds of years in supply and better and better mining techniques, their message should fall on deaf ears. But it doesn’t. Reminds me a bit of the snake oil salesman in the 1800s American West.

It will be interesting to see what happens in West Virginia this year. Their democratic senator is up for election. Yet his party is the one that threatened mine closures. Coal remains a mainstay for his state.

Will this be the triumph of closed minds over open mines? It is hard to predict the effect that all the anti-coal press could have on national voting, so the West Virginia vote might not give us an accurate picture. What we need is solid education based on fact not emotion, based on accurate assessment and not on assumption.

Senator Joe Manchin voted with President Trump to block regulations that would have killed coalmining jobs. So, too, did Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, plus West Virginia’s other senator, Shelley Moore Capito. In November, Manchin faces a competitor. Just who it is will remain up in the air until voters go to the polls on May 8th. I doubt if they will reflect mainstream media and its minions. It is easy to see that both coasts constitute the bulwark of rampant liberalism. These liberals consider those of us in “fly over country” rubes and hillbillies. Well, we common folk make this country run. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the West Virginia elections this year.

Americans who yearn to see a government run like a business — not operating in the red — shudder to think that poor civics education given our youth might sway power back to the poor management seen in the last administration. Sacrifice is never popular. The men and women who won World War II are disappearing daily. With each succeeding generation, we seem to have lost the importance of loyalty to country and faith in God. If it continues at a rapid pace, it could be our undoing.

It took decades for us to pile up the national debt. It will take decades to get back to solvency. Sadly, today’s young people seem to think everything happens quickly. The one worry many of us have is that too many among us are impatient. They have been taught that government is the answer to everything. It is not. Oh, my, it is not….

Consider the wisdom of President Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” That still holds true today. Humor is the soul of wit. Reagan exuded both. I close with another Reagan quote.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

As I see it, there is no better way for this nation to lose its freedom than to keep the public uneducated and dependent. We are well on our way to both. Think about it.

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