August 14, 2015

The "invisible hand" strikes again

Here's an interesting item from Forbes on the decline of coal. Some excerpts:

Blame it on Obama? No. Blame it on market forces, which have not just provided the tools to dig out shale gas but to also commercialize advanced windmills and solar panels. In lay terms, coal’s financial and political troubles are because the electorate wants cleaner air and water, which has fostered innovation. And national policy has fallen into place and enabled the evolution...
When the political campaigns begin in earnest, the “War on Coal” rhetoric will no doubt get ratcheted up. But if economic survival is, indeed, the underlying concern, the candidates may want to convince their contemporaries to attract investment in the country’s new economic engines, and to implement the policies that would help facilitate such a future.
HELP NEEDED ON IRAN DEAL. For WV readers, Senator Joe Manchin is considered to be a critical vote on the Iran deal. If you can, please contact his office in support of the deal. You can find his numbers here.

August 12, 2015

Not all bad here

Here is yet another reminder that it's not all bad news in WV. The number of uninsured in this state declined by more than half, thanks largely to Gov. Tomblin's decision to expand Medicaid back in 2013.

Meanwhile, the news is pretty bad in Kansas where irresponsible tax cuts promoted by Gov. Brownback actually did turn out to be a shot in the heart. Not in a good way.

August 11, 2015

Three for the road

It's late and it's been a long day, but here are three links in case you missed them.

FIRST, here's a call for the US to do right by WV coal miners in this difficult time.

SECOND, if I was Don Blankenship, I wouldn't want UBB to be discussed at my trial either. But it should be.

THIRD, here's a profile of a guitar playing friend of mine who offered me shelter from the storm years ago.


August 10, 2015

Prevailing skullduggery

There's been some interesting news regarding WV's prevailing wage controversy. First, a claim by Berkeley County Superintendent Manny Arvon about how much the school system saved without prevailing wage turned out to be total BS.

This BS was uncritically parroted by a number of WV politicians and pundits. I wonder if any will fess up? On second thought I don't.

Meanwhile, more evidence has surfaced that fringe benefits were intended to be included in the new prevailing wage calculation, something Republicans have recently tried to deny.

All this may sound arcane, but it's really about good jobs for local workers.

SPEAKING OF BS, the Beckley Register-Herald calls it in this editorial about the Common Core, a recent WV political football. Methinks some state leaders are against it because the president is black. The Huntington Herald-Dispatch also ran a good editorial on the topic.

COAL WHODUNNIT? The butler didn't do it, but the market might have.


August 09, 2015

Left and right

I dislike the political terms left and right for two main reasons. First, why should we classify political orientations based on what side of the room people sat on at the Estates General during the French Revolution? It's kind of arbitrary.

 Second, labels come with baggage. The left side of things comes with all kinds of sinister baggage (look the word up), which conjures up all kinds of associations, mostly negative.

Third, accepting labels can have consequences. This is true in many aspects of life but especially in politics. Think back to Russia in the early 20th century. A tiny sect of the Russian Social Democratic movement called themselves the majority (Bolsheviks). The much larger group (the Mensheviks) idiotically accepted the label. And, when it counted in terms of effective political force, they were the minority.

A good friend of mine once said he was concerned less about left and right than about tops or bottoms. I think I'm with him.