December 06, 2010

The end of an era

Friday evening, the Spousal Unit and I attended an event supporting health care reform. While there, a friend showed me an email message from her smart phone that said that Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship announced plans to retire.

(Another friend at that moment, who happens to be a fellow Tolkien geek, said something about Frodo and Sam melting the Ring in Mount Doom...)

I didn't believe the news at first, not because I didn't trust the messenger, but I just had trouble believing was real. There had been rumors for some time about a possible sale of the company, a step that Blankenship was said to oppose. Many people believed that decades of excess had finally caught up with him, the Upper Big Branch mine disaster being one of the last straws. Many of us believed that something had to give. Still, it was just hard to believe that it finally happened.

This story is bound to unfold more over time, but it seems clear to me that Blankenship was finally overtaken by his own excesses, which eventually convinced shareholders and others involved in the industry that a change was needed. I had long believed that national media exposure was a weak point, one that would eventually convince decision makers that his kind of leadership was a liability.

Nobody knows what the future holds for the company or its former leader, but I have two initial guesses. First, whoever eventually takes over or buys that company is unlikely to be as excessive on all fronts as the former leader. Second, while Blankenship will no doubt walk away with a big severance package, I doubt that he will wield the same power in the future as he did when he ran a major company and controlled thousands of jobs.

We'll see.

DISAPPOINTING VOTES. The US Senate tried and failed this weekend to reach a deal on the Bush era tax cuts and extending unemployment insurance. A deal may be near that will grant the latter at the expense of the former.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, here's a look at long term unemployment, the damage it does, and alternatives to the current unemployment insurance system.

CHANGING THE CLIMATE of climate change discussions, scientists are rethinking how to get the message across.

DOH! A conservative WV group that obsesses way too much about homosexuality has links to a national organization identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

LIFE AS WE DON'T KNOW IT. New research indicates that life on earth is a little weirder than previously thought, which means life on other planets might be stranger still.



itziar said...

the image reminds me of this painting

very festive too ;)

itziar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.