To Don Blankenship, just the cost of doing coal business

On Thursday, a Senate committee took testimony on coal mine safety after the explosion last month at a West Virginia operation run by Massey Energy that killed 29 men.

From the New York Times:

In his first testimony since the accident, the worst coal mine disaster in 40 years, Don L. Blankenship, the chairman and chief executive, came out swinging. The 23 miner fatalities at Massey mines in the decade before the Upper Big Branch explosion made his company “about average,” he said, and Massey was a leader in safety innovation but had been forbidden by the Mine Safety and Health administration from making some safety improvements….

At the hearing, another witness, Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, challenged Mr. Blankenship’s assertion that Massey’s safety record was average.

“I can’t come up with another coal company that’s had 23 miners in 10 years die,” Mr. Roberts, seated next to Mr. Blankenship at the witness table, said. “This isn’t average. This is deplorable.

“This is the worst fatality rate in the industry either way you look at it, either before the explosion or after the explosion.”

… Robert C. Byrd, the 92-year-old West Virginia Democrat, took a tough stance with Mr. Blankenship. “Twenty-nine men are now dead, dead, dead, simply because they went to work that morning,” he said.

The very next morning:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Another Massey Energy coal miner has died as a result of on-the-job injuries.

State of West Virginia spokesman Hoy Murphy says 55-year-old James Erwin of Delbarton died about 6 a.m. Friday.

Murphy says Erwin was pinned between a piece of heavy equipment and the wall at Massey’s Ruby Energy mine in Mingo County on May 10.

548 comments Add your comment

jm

May 22nd, 2010
10:13 am

I can’t wait to hear Mr. Wooten’s government busy body comment about this.

@@

May 22nd, 2010
10:19 am

But Ken Salazar LUVS coal!!!

But one thing was clear from today’s brief press conference by Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: He likes coal. And he went to great lengths to assure anyone who was listening (especially coalfield politicians and mining operators?) that the action by his department wasn’t going to block any permits or stop one single coal anywhere from being mined.

1. “Coal was and will remain an important part of our national energy portfolio.”

2. “We will continue to need coal as a significant part of our energy portfolio. We need to do everything we can to research and deploy advanced coal technologies. You are not going to shut off the 50 percent of electricity that today comes from coal.”

3. “It is important to look for how we can continue to use coal in a way that deals with the carbon dioxide emissions that come from coal. If we can figure out a way to deal with the carbon dioxide emissions, we will use a very significant amount of coal.”

No mention of safety regs, just COAL!!!! and the importance of COAL!!!!

tm

May 22nd, 2010
10:23 am

looks like its not as bad as other jobs
Risky Businesses

In general, occupational injuries claim the lives of 15 workers a day die, according to the AFL-CIO. However, it’s these eight types of workers who most frequently put their lives on the line.

1. Fishermen: Fans of the TV show Deadliest Catch know this job’s no joke. Men and women who work in the fishing industry regularly put their lives at risk, battling forces of nature, including treacherous storms and extreme temperatures. In addition, many fishermen, proud of their reputation for being independent spirits, sometimes make the risky decision to buck safety regulations.

2. Pilots and airline employees: The number of fatalities for airline employees was particularly high in 2006 due to an August 2006 Comair crash in Lexington, Kentucky, that killed 47 people, including the pilot and multiple passengers. However, the BLS reports that there were 215 airline-related fatalities all together, including 44 accidents that involved multiple deaths.

3. Loggers: People who work in the logging industry face the expected dangers associated with cutting down giant trees. Not surprisingly, the cause of death listed most commonly is “struck by object.” According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), one of the most dangerous situations is a lodged or hung tree, which happens when a cut tree doesn’t fall all the way to the ground but gets caught against another tree.

4. Structural construction workers: These are the people you see hoisting those giant steel beams to create the structural framework of office buildings and other large projects. The United Steelworkers union claims that deaths among structural construction workers are increasing as owners and managers try to cut costs. The most common cause of death among them, according to the BLS, is falling.

5. Waste management employees: Because waste and recycling collectors often ride on and/or drive the trucks, their biggest threat involves road and highway crashes. The frequency of contact with hazardous wastes is an additional risk.

6. Farmers and ranchers: While it may not seem like a dangerous occupation at first, farmers and ranchers often use heavy equipment to do their jobs. Large machinery can easily crush people, and vehicles, such as tractors and backhoes, have overturned or run over farm employees.

7. Power-line technicians: More than 350 workers, including those who install or repair lines, are killed annually due to contact with electric currents or power lines, BLS reports. Other incidents have been caused by employees who fell while working on power lines high above the ground. Fatalities have risen recently among electricians.

8. Roofers: The BLS notes that fatal falls from roofs increased by 15 percent between 2005 and 2006. Including falls from ladders, scaffolding, and other places, falls were the second most common cause of worker fatalities, after driving accidents.
Updated: November 20, 2008

Dusty

May 22nd, 2010
10:28 am

No one wants fatalities at work. Not the workers, not the company and most everybody in the rest of the world. But if you work miles underground in man made tunnels, or drill miles under the sea, or launch astronauts, or arrest criminals, or erect steel beams high in the air or protect your country; you are going to have fatalities sooner or later.

I doubt that anything Massey Mines could have done would prevent methane from surging from underground into the mine. It is an almost instant killer. Let us not condemn every hazardous occupation because the inevitable happens.

There were safety measures. There can never be enough. Either stop all hazardous occupations or do the best you can and stop griping. Coal miners knew the score. They went to work knowing their chances.

My sincerest sympathy to the families of these men. The miners were brave to go below.. They died to keep our energy going. Let us not make a farce of their diligence.

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
10:31 am

Just to be clear, @@, that was from a press conference back in April 2009 …

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
10:34 am

And TM, Dusty, contrary to your assertions, other companies do manage to run pretty safe coal-mining operations.

Massey Energy, which calls itself the largest coal producer in central Appalachia, does not.

RW-(the original)

May 22nd, 2010
10:40 am

Well said Dusty.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Remember shortly after many of us migrated over here Jay B was in some sort of outrageous outrage over a producer from a TV program showing up in Cynthia Tucker’s driveway? This news is a week old now

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that — in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action — makes his family fair game.

Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him…

I guess the SEIU owing BofA about 90 million had nothing to do with this either…/sarc

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
10:41 am

CLEAN coal? Only in the minds of the uber-gullible.

It is BY FAR the most polluting of all energy resources,.

(Mommy can I have another helping of sulfur dioxide?)

tm. occupational safety???

We don’t need no stinking government types involving themselves in that!

We in the “free market” will police ourselves…

Dusty

May 22nd, 2010
10:44 am

Jay, is there a coal mine that has never had any fatalities? Would you expect the largest coal mining company or the smallest to have the largest number of fatalities and accidents?

Massey had been inspected many times and………..

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
10:45 am

I hadn’t seen that, rw, and certainly would not condone it. Families and homes are offlimits as far as I’m concerned.

Not sure what it has to do with the topic, but hey, it’s Saturday.

RW-(the original)

May 22nd, 2010
10:49 am

Jay B,

It has nothing to do with the topic. I thought numbering the off topic ones was just a Scout thing.

/Now I’ve got to figure a way to weave this one into the topic or I’m a goner……

//Oh well, I don’t see how to do it so I’m 2 and done.

Have a great weekend, y’all

tm

May 22nd, 2010
10:49 am

“Massey Energy, which calls itself the largest coal producer in central Appalachia, does not.” Does any of the blame fall on our federal government in particular MSHA? Did we not enact thislaw and create this federal agency to protect the miners? Shouldn’t we ask MSHA how they let the largest coal producer in central Appalachis run an unsafe operation?

@@

May 22nd, 2010
10:50 am

jay:

Just to be clear, @@, that was from a press conference back in April 2009

I know. It’s one of the reasons environmentalists opposed Obama’s appointment of Salazar and still do to this day.

Did Obama listen? Well, you know the answer to that.

Southern Comfort

May 22nd, 2010
10:56 am

Shouldn’t we ask MSHA how they let the largest coal producer in central Appalachis run an unsafe operation?

The reason is usually described by denominations or the deceased presidents that appear on the front of them.

The sad thing is that the people lost in that and other work accidents will become political fodder and nothing will be done by government or the business owners to keep it from happening again. The government will bow to the accusations of “over regulation” and not enforce anything. The businesses can’t make a job 100% safe as that’s impossible to do.

Dusty

May 22nd, 2010
10:57 am

Don’t go, RW!!! We’ll think of something! …. I think there’s a coal miner taking pictures in my driveway!!

Well, maybe not. He just put some mail in my mailbox.

But you never know these days!! Safety!!!

By the way BRAVES WON AGAIN LAST NIGHT. (attn: off subject!) Whatta game!! Oh, luv those Braves. GO BRAVES! GO!

It takes a hero.

May 22nd, 2010
10:58 am

There is no way to make coal mining safe. History proves that. Sometimes mines just collapse. In fact, there’s so many things that can kill in a mine, PETA won’t allow them to take a canary down there anymore. It takes a hero to go down there. Miners are heroes.

It’s like airline travel. There’s no way to make it safe. The nature of flight makes disasters inevitable. They still call landing a controlled crash, you know. Pilots are heroes too. I thought that all flights were automated now with satellite and radar-guided electronic autopiloting.

Wrong.

OT: They’re playing the Olson twin’s “New York Minute”, on USA. (My absolutely all time favorite movie). Those crazy Olson twins achieve a “camp” that rivals “Animal House”. You have to wonder how they filmed this movie, because obviously only one of the twins is actually in the movie, playing both herself and her sister. They must have used the techniques developed by Patty Duke. Or maybe this is really a colorized black and white cartoon thing from Ted Turner. Either way, it’s a masterpiece. I think it was nominated for, like, 12 academy awards, but only won best pre-pubescence in a supporting role.

Tivo alert

@@

May 22nd, 2010
11:04 am

The sad thing is that the people lost in that and other work accidents will become political fodder and nothing will be done by government or the business owners to keep it from happening again.

BINGO!

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”–Rahm Emanuel

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Mine Safety and Health Administration wants a judge to dismiss a lawsuit over how it’s interviewing witnesses in a West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 29 men.

MSHA argues the U.S. District Court in Charleston lacks jurisdiction in the case raised by the United Mine Workers of America and the families of two dead miners.

The UMW and relatives of William Griffith and Ronald Maynor want to observe private interviews. MSHA director Joe Main says they have no legal foundation for that demand.

MSHA argues a combination of private interviews and public meetings will protect the integrity of the investigation and the confidentiality of witnesses.

The cause of the April 5 blast at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine remains under investigation.–AP

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:08 am

No problem, RW. You’re certainly not an abuser of that privilege. I just wondered whether I was missing something.

And Dusty, yes, this is a dangerous way to make a living. But given that, we ought to try to make it as safe as possible, including focusing on the bad apples in the industry. Massey appears to be just that, given its record. For example, as the Washington Independent points out:

“In 2009, for instance, the Upper Big Branch racked up 515 safety violations while producing roughly 1.2 million tons of coal. Meanwhile, the Robinson Run mine, a Consol-owned operation in West Virginia’s Marion County, produced 5.5 million tons of coal in the same year while receiving just 158 citations.”

If we don’t address the bad actors in an industry like this, other companies will and probably have begin to cut corners in just the same way as Massey has.

duh

May 22nd, 2010
11:10 am

OK – so lets do our best and defend blankenship, titan of coal. Money is his god, safety sure isnèt. Those who defend him are not in reality.

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
11:10 am

1 Logging workers 92.4
2 Aircraft pilots 92.4
3 Fishers and fishing workers 86.4
4 Structural iron and steel workers 47.0
5 Refuse and recyclable material collectors 43.2
6 Farmers and ranchers 37.5
7 Roofers 34.9
8 Electrical power line installers/repairers 30.0
9 Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 27.6
10 Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 24.2

Coal Mining 21.9
Police Officer 15.9

ref 1: http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/26/pf/jobs_jeopardy/
ref 2: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfoi_rates_2008hb.pdf

The reason the coal miners are before congress is coal mining deaths occur mostly at one time so they make the news.

Here Lies the Truth

May 22nd, 2010
11:11 am

And we all love our “Georgia-grown” sugar-coated peanuts too. They’re to die for.

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
11:11 am

Sorry the mumbers cited are death rates per 100,000.

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:12 am

Shouldn’t we ask MSHA how they let the largest coal producer in central Appalachis run an unsafe operation?

The reason is usually described by denominations or the deceased presidents that appear on the front of them.
———————————-
In this case, SoCo, a shortage of those denominations may have played a role. Mine safety officials at the hearing testified that Massey had so many citations issued that it should have been classified as a major offender and thus gotten tighter oversight.

But Massey appealed so many of those citations that it overwhelmed the small number of judges available to hear those appeals, and thus was able to avoid that tighter scrutiny.

Here Lies the Truth

May 22nd, 2010
11:15 am

Massey had been inspected many times and………..

Finish your sentence and let us see just how knowledgeable you are.

@@

May 22nd, 2010
11:15 am

Hmmm, in 2009, the year of Obama, Big Branch racked up 515 violations. So why weren’t they shut down? ‘Cause people gotta work, even when the job comes with risks.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
11:16 am

These companies operate under the principles (or lack thereof) set down by the Robber Barons of the Reconstruction-Industrialization-Massive Immigration period of the last half of the 19th Century and won’t be changing any time soon. Follow the money.

Dave R.

May 22nd, 2010
11:17 am

And the problem with using just numbers and raw statistics is that they don’t show the details of those complaints, Jay.

As with Palin’s so-called “ethics violations”, many of the 515 “violations” could have been petty complains from disgrunted workers or all could have been serious. We just don’t know.

Lies, damned lies and statistics. All one in the same without context.

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

Moderate, the numbers for coal mining include the huge aboveground mining operations like those out West. I suspect if you broke out the numbers for deep mining, they’d be considerably higher, but perhaps not as high as loggers, etc.

But the point in all of those jobs is that if it can be done more safely, it should be done more safely.

bob

May 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

Jay, the reason you did not see these classless thugs protesting on the front porch is because they are Obo’s SEIU thugs, not tea party people. Had they been tea party people, you would have started a thread about it.
This is the way Obo led ACORN and SEIU thugs do things but lefty media ignores it. I would have loved to see someone stick a shotgun out the window and blow the heads off of the thugs chanting on this guys front porch.
The DC police gave the thugs an escort to the Bankers house. While you play the race card against Tea party people because of one sign and accusations, you ignore parasite thugs converging on a private residence. Watch the video of the thugs on the porch with bullhorns and imagine if a tea party person did that to a home of a democrat while his or her children were home. Of course you condemn it when someone brings it up but you don’t seem to be bringing it yourself. You have not seen Obama say anything on this because these are his people.

Southern Comfort

May 22nd, 2010
11:23 am

The reason the coal miners are before congress is coal mining deaths occur mostly at one time so they make the news.

I don’t think that’s as much of the point. Congress usually do their “hearings” after any major incident like that. It’s just a horse and pony show. The thing to look for is to see if safety regulations are brushed aside after about six months or so. Once it’s out of the news, for most of America, it’s out of the mind as well. Those who lost loved ones will be left to deal with it.

What needs to happen is that business owners need to live up to their “self regulating” principals. Also, workers have to continue to be productive, yet remained focus on their personal safety too. As long as they (owners) suffer from the lust for money, nothing on their end will ever change. If workers fail to remain vigilant about their safety, nothing on their end will ever change either.

Accidents will happen, and sadly people will sometimes lose their lives. There just has to be a steadfast focus on decreasing those accidents as much as possible from both workers and owners/managers.

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:28 am

Bob, you would have been more convincing had you managed to avoid suggesting that protesters should get their heads blown off with a shotgun. It made you seem a little less … reasonable, shall we say?

Southern Comfort

May 22nd, 2010
11:31 am

Massey appealed so many of those citations that it overwhelmed the small number of judges available to hear those appeals, and thus was able to avoid that tighter scrutiny.

And yet we need smaller government… Seems like they used the same tactic that Palin’s foes used to drive her to resign.

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
11:34 am

Shut down the mines?

Why is it always just an option between worst case scenarios with criminal coddlers?

Why never the reasoned and reasonable center?

Jay, hits a bulls eye in this regard.

“…it overwhelmed the small number of judges available to hear those appeals…”

This is exactly how the corporatists, casino capitalists and assorted Titans of Malfeasance and Criminal Negligence have set it up and rigged the game, almost exclusively in their favor.

Lets let the army of lobbyists convince the bribed politicians to insanely under man and underfund the agencies and organizations – who are supposedly there to protect US (you do remember the sovereign “we the people”, right?) – and then complain they aren’t effective. Or that THEY are the criminals. (I do contend that they are often the unindicted co-conspirators)

Pick an industry or category within our capitalism, gone horribly awry, society. You know it is so.

I’m not advocating a police state, but how about you soft on crime “conservatives” simply calling for the federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to get the necessary resources and manpower to contain the corporate cancer and do their freaking jobs?

Instead of giving every advantage to the white collar, deadly criminals like Blankenship?

The good news? I no longer feel like a lone wolf howling in the night about this situation.

The American chorus decrying the corporate destroyers of capitalism is gaining volume every day.

Keep on singing those revolution blues…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiKJQeG5E2o

Dusty

May 22nd, 2010
11:36 am

OK OK

Massey is a “robber baron” and loves to bury workers, etc. etc. etc and pay off SOMEBODY so Massey can get away with a ton of money !! TO WHOM ARE THEY PAYING THESE GREAT BRIBES?

Just whom is the criminal here? The one who pays bribes or the one who accepts them? Jay cites only the mine owners, those “criminals” who keep the country supplied with the coal that is needed..

AND…a coal mine that has ONLY 158 unsafe citations is a safe mine to enter? Well, it is better than 515 but is it safe? No, of course not. Just a LITTLE SAFER. That’s all.

Cosl mining is a dangerous occupation. There will be fatalities even with every safety measure known to man..

@@’s quotation from Rahm Emanuel is very apt.” You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Right, Jay?

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:40 am

Who did the money go to, Dusty?

Here’s one place:

“In the most famous instance, Blankenship poured $3 million of his own money into a campaign to elect Brent Benjamin to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. When a case involving Massey Energy came before Benjamin in 2007, the plaintiff, Hugh Caperton, petitioned to have Benjamin recused from the case on the grounds that the extraordinary sums spent by Blankenship – more than any other spending by Benjamin supporters and Benjamin’s campaign put together – represented a conflict of interest. Benjamin refused, Caperton appealed, and in 2009 in the decision of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., the Supreme Court ruled that Caperton was denied due process do to the extreme conflict of interest presented by Blankenship’s spending.”

Dave R.

May 22nd, 2010
11:41 am

AmVet: “I’m not advocating a police state, but how about you soft on crime “conservatives” simply calling for the federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to get the necessary resources and manpower to contain the corporate cancer and do their freaking jobs?”

According to the Heritage Foundation, ” Federal spending is now projected to exceed 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

We have a SPENDING problem right now, AmVet. Maybe you large-government statists could find something we SHOULDN’T be spending money on and divert it to something meaningful.

tm

May 22nd, 2010
11:41 am

MSHA can shut down any mine that it finds poses a risk to the miner. The law is in place for the Feds to prevent these incidents. Like dealing with illegal aliens the Fed refuses to do its job. You have a federal agency with the power to shut down these mines and they refuse to act. Don’t give me the excuse that they don’t have enough man power, look at the amount of money we tax payers give that agency each year. If it was a business, it’s ceo would be in these hearing also with his job on the line but he is government employee and who does not need to account for his stupidity. This is a report from last week:

“A West Virginia mine operated by Patriot Coal Corp facing ventilation problems was shut down by the U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA), a Labor Department spokesman said.

U.S.

Shares of the company fell as much as 8 percent on Friday”

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:50 am

Another of the Supreme Court judges was photographed with Blankenship vacationing on the French Riviera while the case on appeal.

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
11:51 am

“We have a SPENDING problem right now, AmVet.”

NO, we have a VALUE problem. We the people ain’t getting much at all in return for our outlays.

“Maybe you large-government statists strong proponents of adherence to the rule of law voices could find something we SHOULDN’T be spending money on and divert it to something meaningful.”

Dave, you’re kidding me, right?

Do you think I can’t locate HUGE amounts of wasted dollars that could be diverted to adequate law enforcement??? Why do you advocate AGAINST the “cops” and for the thieves?

Here’s a hint, look real closely at the bloated, fraud ridden, hyper-corrupt, jaw droppingly wasteful military budget.( Granted you can’t see the “secret” funds and how they are used, but I presume you get the idea.)

Now I realize that we spend as much as the rest of the planet combined on the war machine, but as King George and the Crusaders said, “we have to make sacrifices.”

And there are plenty of other gigantic giveaways and subsidies and handouts and bailouts that could be eliminated or minimalized (is that a real word?), if you were to only look.

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
11:57 am

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
11:21 am
Moderate, the numbers for coal mining include the huge aboveground mining operations like those out West. I suspect if you broke out the numbers for deep mining, they’d be considerably higher, but perhaps not as high as loggers, etc.
++++++++++++++++++++
I am not sure the data support your assertion. Most of the deaths in coal mining have nothing to do with explosion which seems to be the focus because of the media attention associated with them.

From 2005 to 2009 there were more people dying from falls than explosions in coal mines. There were 38 accidents do to falling vs 17 for explosions. There were 17 accidents do to manchinery.

http://www.msha.gov/stats/charts/coal2009yearend.asp

@@

May 22nd, 2010
12:01 pm

Just to get off of politicians for a minute and straight to the heart of the people.

West Virginia Activists Win Funds
for New School for Students
Endangered by Coal Industry

“Between the Lines Q&A”…the difference between a politician’s lip service and people who REALLY care!

BTL: “Ed Wiley, in 2006 you walked almost 500 miles from Charleston to Washington, D.C. to ask West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd to help the community get a new school. Do you think he helped your cause?”

ED WILEY: I figured well, if anybody could help me without hurting their reputation, without hurting their politics, without worrying about rocking the boat a little bit, Sen. Byrd could. So he did promise me that he would turn over every stone to help me find the money. He’s done nothing. It’s sad that he didn’t help. He’s made a couple statements that helped, but not to the extent it should have helped. You know, what’s a statement? We finally got a statement — now back your statement up. I feel that he could have done more for the issue, and there’s still a lot more he could do for the issue.

@@: So how did it happen?

BTL: Well, congratulations on your hard-won victory.

ED WILEY: Well, it just wasn’t me, or just a couple people in this community. There were so many people from around the nation. Environmental groups, just plain folks, all the school children from New York and different parts of the U.S. sent money. People across the seas who called and sent money, and tried to help. A big network of people out there, from young and old to all ages, who tried to help us, and did help us, with this issue, and we thank all these people from the bottom of our hearts.

You’re welcome Ed. It was for the children…same reason I always kept a carton of cigarettes in the car. I don’t smoke, but panhandlers do. SCHIP!!!

So shoot me! I’m not giving panhandlers money so they can shoot up. It’s personal with me.

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
12:04 pm

Dave R., I’m having trouble finding your source for the quote from Heritage that “Federal spending is now projected to exceed 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”.

Can you help me out with that? Friendly inquiry, just trying to see what those projections are.

@@

May 22nd, 2010
12:04 pm

jay:

I’ve got a heartwarming story held up in moderation. Only thing that’s questionable is where I said “So shoot me!” Don’t think that’s possible thru “the tube”.

In other words, I’m safe!

@@

May 22nd, 2010
12:05 pm

Whoops! Never you mind, jay.

Dave R.

May 22nd, 2010
12:05 pm

AmVet, if you’ll recall, I have advocated for bringing all our troops home and cutting defense since day one.

My problem is that you worship the “cops” (who are really the robbers), and you decry the very concept of capitalism and think corporations are thieves.

You just have your targets a bit backwards.

Dusty

May 22nd, 2010
12:06 pm

Ah so, Massey lost a 2007 case in which election money was the factor in a judge making decisions in Massey’s bailiwick. And THIS proves that Massey is a criminal company out to kill its workers. Did any other coal companies send election money to any other candidates?

If this action was so criminal, why was Judge Benjamin not removed from the bench for taking election money from Massey’s Blankenship? Yes! The judge sould have sent it back!! What does Blankenship think he is? A citizen??? Ha!!

This brings to mind presidential elections. Should an elected President be advised of how much money is given in election funds before making a decision thereafter? Will he say I cannot make a decision on that because a lot of money was given that will influence my thoughts? Dream on.

Well, I want safe mines too but I think this is like a gnat straining at a camel.

But, I must hit the road. But it is not safe out there!! Police not catching all the speeders. Musta been bribed. But I will go forth bravely into the turmoil. Keep your fingers crossed!

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
12:07 pm

And if you thought that the scandal with the judges would make a great John Grisham novel, well, John Grisham thought so too:

http://www.amazon.com/Appeal-John-Grisham/dp/0385515049

Dave R.

May 22nd, 2010
12:09 pm

Jay,

http://www.heritage.org/BudgetChartBook/entitlements-consume-economy

Meanwhile our tax receipts usually average about 20% of GDP, so we’re screwed!

Dave R.

May 22nd, 2010
12:11 pm

And I, like Dusty, must hit the road and make some money today.

Later, dudes and dudettes!

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
12:14 pm

Thanks Dave.

So that projection is that if nothing changes, it will happen in …. 2055.

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2010
12:15 pm

“I can’t come up with another coal company that’s had 23 miners in 10 years die,” Mr. Roberts, seated next to Mr. Blankenship at the witness table, said. “This isn’t average. This is deplorable.

Anyone know of a decent comparison between fatality rates among deep mining operations, union vs. non-union?

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
12:16 pm

“My problem is that you worship the “cops” (who are really the robbers),…”

No, that is not your problem, Dave. I worship nobody. Not even Abrahamic deities and mythologies.

But I do not, nor ever will, advocate for the continuance of the trillions of dollars, American corporate crime wave that you won’t even admit exists.

Right? I have never once seen you even acknowledge it. It is some vast left wing conspiracy to destroy the economy of the United States. (right Andy?)

And yes, I do decry the very your concept of capitalism and think refuse to deny the obvious facts that in FAR too many cases these corporations are run by thieves.

To some, apparently this cancer on capitalism is all right and proper. And conservative. Or libertarian. Or “small government” nonsense. Or…

Me, I’m a BIG fan of the Three Laws of Capitalism…

Have a good one. Missed you at last night’s “singalong”!

Bob

May 22nd, 2010
12:22 pm

Jay, you’re quite right, I just wanted to see if you are paying attention. Shooting the protestors would have gotten the left to run a story about it though. But why is this not a story ? If the tea party did it, you and Cynthia would have had your panties in a wad and your followers would have been calling the tea party people racists.

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
12:30 pm

Moderate, the numbers for coal mining include the huge aboveground mining operations like those out West. I suspect if you broke out the numbers for deep mining, they’d be considerably higher, but perhaps not as high as loggers, etc.
++++++++++++++++++++
More evidence that seems not to support such an assertion.
41% are transportion related.
16% Assualt and violent acts
13% falls
18% Contact with objects and equipment
3% Fire and explosions

It is easy to see why driving a cab, driving a truck and logging are so dangerous compared to mining.

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2010
12:34 pm

So that projection is that if nothing changes, it will happen in …. 2055.

Key word being “if nothing changes.” Let’s see, who’s already actually done something about reforming two of the three entitlement programs cited by the Heritigians? Who’s whinged about “death panels” and tried to scare the crap out of Medicare recipients?

(Also love their chart, which assumes revenue collection stays flat going forward.)

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Moderate, you seem to confuse the inherent danger of certain occupations with criminal negligence by ownership.

They are not related.

stands, I’ve looked, but nothing certain yet. All I can find is that *apparently* the majority of the 48 most dangerous mines are non-union…

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Bob, two points:

1.) I hadn’t seen those reports, and

2.) I don’t write that kind of post about the Tea Party folks either. In fact, when I went to their rally here in Atlanta, I wrote about how well-behaved and polite everyone was.

N-GA

May 22nd, 2010
12:49 pm

Bob,

How do you feel about the protesters who march outside the homes of doctors and staffers who work at abortion clinics? What about those same people who carry signs at High Schools attended by children of the clinic employees? And the protesters who went to the homes of the Big Bank executives who had received millions of dollars in bonuses? Perhaps you might even want to comment on Bill O’Reilly’s tactics when his people collar unsuspecting victims and stick a microphone in their faces?

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
12:49 pm

This is the topic du jour here at Jay’s place and, once it’s been worn thin, we’ll go on to something else. That stands to reason here on these pages. Mining is just not that much a part of our daily reality. It is done in far away places by people about whom we know very little, In West Virginia it is enough of a topic for the state’s major paper to devote a Jay to that subject. Here’s a link those wanting a broader perspective might want to check out.

http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2010/05/21/friday-roundup-may-21-2010/#more-5537

N-GA

May 22nd, 2010
12:52 pm

Jay….Why to the T-nuts get so much press when their actual numbers are so small? From what I’ve read, the Atlanta T-nut protest involved 3-5,000 people (a small number for this area). In outlying towns the numbers ranged from less than 20 to approaching 100.

Wouldn’t you think a state as far right as Georgia could muster more T-nuts?

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
12:53 pm

jnix, thanks for the link:

These events have a few things in common, not the least of which is that they all illustrate a governmental failure to effectively regulate business activity and protect the public.

In each instance, businesses with poor safety records have continued to operate in a system of voluntary regulation. Federal agencies, battered by lengthy procedural hurdles, slashed budgets, and anti-government sentiments, rely on business to police themselves. After each “accident,” Congress and the media begin a crusade: how can such things happen and why didn’t somebody see this coming? But after all the hand-wringing and finger-pointing, rarely is anything done to prevent future catastrophes. Instead, we continue to be stuck with “government by reaction.”

Duh! Ya think?

Jay

May 22nd, 2010
12:54 pm

Josef, I’d add that the reporter who runs that operation, Ken Ward, is one of the best in the business at what he does. I’ve run into him a couple of times over the years, and he’s very diligent, accurate and even courageous. The coal industry in W Va. would love to run him off, but haven’t been able to do so.

Southern Comfort

May 22nd, 2010
1:06 pm

josef

Thanks for that link. It appears that Mr. Bass and I have pretty similar opinions when it comes to those hearings and all. We need more people like Ken Ward as well. I like all the “feel good” stories that come from the media, but we also need those stories that expose wrongdoings by both government and private industries.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
1:08 pm

JAY
He is that for a fact. Glad you hold him in such high regard. Would that there were more like him.

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

From my experience, this is how things happen. Nobody sits down and says, “Well, X amount of $$ is worth X amount of lives”. What happens is this, something risky needs to be done. Someone on the scene raises questions about the safety of doing it or doing it a certain way. Inevitably, someone will ask the question, “But what are the odds of that happening?” It’ll be bandied back and forth. It’ll be a discussion of “it’s probably not going to happen” and “it’ll cost a lot more to do it that way”. People on the lower end of the totem pole will be reluctant to push it; they have to make a living. The one who does push it will be seen as a malcontent and a trouble maker and treated accordingly. So it boils down to, “that is going to cost a whole lot more money and the odds of anything bad happening are small”. And then something bad happens and everybody is left to wonder why. That’s why there is an MSHA and other agencies like it and that’s why they need to do their jobs. The practice of being fined and stringing it out for ever through appeals needs to be fixed.

Off Topic Post #0.5 (it’s only slightly off topic, so I’m not counting it as a whole)

Having grown up in a logging/sawmilling family, I can say with certainty, it’s a very dangerous thing to do. From watching those shows on TV about logging though, it’s no wonder those guys (the ones I’ve seen anyway) get hurt. They’re careless as hell and they don’t use good common logging sense.

larry

May 22nd, 2010
1:26 pm

In each instance, businesses with poor safety records have continued to operate in a system of voluntary regulation. Federal agencies, battered by lengthy procedural hurdles, slashed budgets, and anti-government sentiments, rely on business to police themselves. After each “accident,” Congress and the media begin a crusade: how can such things happen and why didn’t somebody see this coming? But after all the hand-wringing and finger-pointing, rarely is anything done to prevent future catastrophes. Instead, we continue to be stuck with “government by reaction.”

One common denominator in all of this, people will continue to suffer. We need government oversight and interaction now. Corperations are not going to invest in safer plants and safer working environments. That might cause businesses to take money from the CEO’s bonus.

A company in LaGrange that makes parts for the Kia plant in West Point has already been fined $186,000 for safety violations and they haven’t been open a year!

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
1:33 pm

Hillbilly
What I find of interest is how many of my fellow liberals (not you, Jay) will wax ever so eloquently about the conditions of the poor, downtrodden West Virginia coal miners and then, with na’ry a thought, on some other topic throw around such vindictive at the “hiiibillies, trailer trash, rednecks” and what-have-you as synonomous with all “those people” from whom they want to distance their “sophisticated” and superior world view. They are oblivious to the fact that, brass tacks of the matter, they are every bit as guilty for the conditions as the mine operators and government officials they will here excoriate. And it is a sentiment that these operators and officials play like a flute, knowing full well that the mass of urban Americans don’t really give a sh*t about “those people.”

@@

May 22nd, 2010
1:34 pm

Heeyyyyy, I’ve been keeping abreast at “coaltattoo” too. My left breast.

This one sounded like an excellent plan:

Coal is costly in many ways but it still is vital to us.

Focus on results, not on process and actions. Trust but verify.

Establish a safety council for every mine and make them personally liable as individuals for the conditions of the mine at all times. Those councils need to include mine superintendent, one or more corporate officers, miners, government safety inspectors and others. The council members should maintain continual contact by electronic means. They should be required to maintain an online real-time report on the activities and conditions of the mine for all to see — the good, the bad and the ugly.

This is in addition to the safe-mining bonus payments program that I have noted previously.

Me, I’m a BIG fan of the Three Laws of Capitalism…

Let’s see now….there’s corporate capitalism, finance capitalism, laissez-faire capitalism, technocapitalism, Neo-Capitalism, late capitalism, post-capitalism, state capitalism and state monopoly capitalism, depending on the theorist.

AmVet’s three laws fall under anarcho-capitalism?

I swear, the more I read you, the more I’m convinced you’re a Leninite. You are one scary dude.

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
1:46 pm

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
12:35 pm
Moderate, you seem to confuse the inherent danger of certain occupations with criminal negligence by ownership.

They are not related.

stands, I’ve looked, but nothing certain yet. All I can find is that *apparently* the majority of the 48 most dangerous mines are non-union…
++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I don’t believe I said there is a relation between “inherent danger of certain occupations with criminal negligence by ownership.”

Interesting enough mining deaths went down under Bush. Also, the total citations under Bush went up 50%. Doesn’t really jive with the idea we have of Bush.

http://www.msha.gov/MSHAInfo/FactSheets/MSHAbytheNumbers/CalendarYear/Fatality%20Rates.pdf

http://www.msha.gov/MSHAInfo/FactSheets/MSHAbytheNumbers/CalendarYear/Citations%20and%20Orders%20Issued.pdf

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
1:48 pm

I didn’t even realize citations under Obama actually went down his first year. That doggone Bush!

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 22nd, 2010
1:49 pm

And it is a sentiment that these operators and officials play like a flute, knowing full well that the mass of urban Americans don’t really give a sh*t about “those people.”

Interesting you should say that. Some (not all) of the city dwellers tell us that we use too much energy driving and we should all move in-town and live within walking distance of work. If we did that, who would grow the food, mine the coal, drill for the oil, catch the fish, etc. etc.?

on some other topic throw around such vindictive at the “hiiibillies, trailer trash, rednecks” and what-have-you as synonomous with all “those people” from whom they want to distance their “sophisticated” and superior world view.

In my view, it wasn’t the elites who built this country. It was the hillbillies, trailer trash, rednecks, sharecroppers, millworkers, etc. who built this country. They did all the heavy lifting.

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
1:55 pm

Interesting, because the very first piece I found when searching for Bush mine safety reads:

Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient than its predecessors toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed, a Knight Ridder investigation has found.

At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company $440 for a “significant and substantial” violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died last week.

The $440 fine remains unpaid.

Relaxed mine-safety enforcement is widespread, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of federal records and interviews with former and current federal safety officials, while deaths and injuries from mining accidents have hovered near record-low levels in the last few years. Knight Ridder is the parent company of The Inquirer.

The analysis shows:

The number of major fines over $10,000 has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2001. The dollar amount of those penalties, when adjusted for inflation, has plummeted 43 percent to a median of $27,584.

Fewer than half of the fines levied between 2001 and 2003 – about $3 million – have been paid.

The budget and staff for the enforcement office also have declined, forcing the agency to make do with about 100 fewer coal-mine-enforcement personnel, a cut of about 9 percent.

In serious criminal cases, the number of guilty pleas and convictions have fallen 54.8 percent since 2001. In the first four years of the Bush administration, the federal government averaged 3.5 criminal convictions a year; in the four years before that, the average was 7.75 per year.

http://www.google.com/search?q=bush+mine+safety&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Moderate Line

May 22nd, 2010
1:58 pm

My grandfather and great grand father were coal miners. My grand father received a blank lung check but a check doesn’t make up for what you have lost. My father has asbestosis so don’t think I am on the company side when comes to these issues. Emotionally, I am on side of the worker. However, I am also on the side of being rationale and honest.

AmVet

May 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm

“In my view, it wasn’t the elites who built this country. It was the hillbillies, trailer trash, rednecks, sharecroppers, millworkers, etc. who built this country. They did all the heavy lifting.”

What I call the working class Americans, SoCo.

The ones who though their productivity has doubled, has seen their income, adjusted for inflation become LESS than what it was a generation ago!

The War on the Middle Class rages on and the oligarchy enablers are the most bizarre creatures in the history of the species. They advocate against their own interests…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr81olQ1ibk

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
2:04 pm

Hillbilly

That’s one of the reasons I hold the current president in such disregard. That off the cuff remark when he thought no one outside his elite circle was listening about “clinging to their guns and bibles” told me all I ever needed to know about his world view.

Kamchak

May 22nd, 2010
2:13 pm

That off the cuff remark when he thought no one outside his elite circle was listening about “clinging to their guns and bibles” told me all I ever needed to know about his world view.

I think it’s more important to judge a politician by what he does rather than what he says—but that’s just me.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
2:22 pm

Okay, K’chak..I’ll bite..Let’s say .I’m a West Virginia coal miner…what has he done for me? Sent my boy to Afghanistan? Thrown my tax dollars to the big boy bailout? Sent his own daughters to prestige private schools while mine still languish in schools his are too good to go to? Continued to appoint fellow elitists to vacancies in key positions under his purview?

@@

May 22nd, 2010
2:27 pm

In my view, it wasn’t the elites who built this country. It was the hillbillies, trailer trash, rednecks, sharecroppers, millworkers, etc. who built this country. They did all the heavy lifting.

AMEN!

And they’re still out there keeping the engine, known as small business, running while the too big to fails get bailed out.

Kamchak

May 22nd, 2010
2:30 pm

Let’s say .I’m a West Virginia coal miner…

But you aren’t.

The problem with the “what if” game, is that all “what ifs,” no matter how improbable, are created equally and have equal weighting.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
2:36 pm

K’chak

No, I’m not. But my Little Princess’ maternal grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins were and are…Welch, McDowell County…

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 22nd, 2010
2:42 pm

I think it’s more important to judge a politician by what he does rather than what he says—but that’s just me.

I agree with that to a degree but there should be a consistency with words and actions. Often times there isn’t, which is why I can’t think of a single politician, off the top of my head, that I trust.

@@

May 22nd, 2010
2:49 pm

I think someone’s keeping a close eye on moi, or maybe it’s Byrd’s “reputation” that’s thrown me into moderation?

No biggie. All ‘ya gotta do is read Ed Wiley’s interview at 12:01. He’s from a long line of coal miners.

Empty “werdts”. No action.

Kamchak

May 22nd, 2010
2:51 pm

No, I’m not. But my Little Princess’ maternal grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins were and are…Welch, McDowell County…

It wasn’t your Little Princess’ maternal grandfather, aunts, uncles nor cousins that said, “That off the cuff remark when he thought no one outside his elite circle was listening about “clinging to their guns and bibles” told me all I ever needed to know about his world view.” You said that, and it shows a political naivete that I know that you don’t possess.

@@

May 22nd, 2010
2:52 pm

@@

May 22nd, 2010
2:53 pm

Does the word “rep-u-ta-tion” offend the moderator?

RW-(the original)

May 22nd, 2010
2:55 pm

Just pasin’ through, but did I just read that amvet now fancies himself a champion for the plight of the denizens of what he calls the moron belt?

Geez

/drive by….

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
2:57 pm

K’chak

Actually, what THEY had, and have, to say about that remark was, and is, far more blunt and to the point. And it is not, in my opinion, political naivete.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
2:59 pm

@@

Yes it does. The Blue Nosed B*tch is bilingual… the combination p*u*t*a is a dirty word in Spanish…like c*u*l*o–though I think the Bruin has brought her to heel on the latter one…

@@

May 22nd, 2010
2:59 pm

did I just read that amvet now fancies himself a champion for the plight of the denizens of what he calls the moron belt?

So did Lenin.

@@

May 22nd, 2010
3:03 pm

p*u*t*a?

What about punta?

Kamchak

May 22nd, 2010
3:08 pm

Actually, what THEY had, and have, to say about that remark was, and is, far more blunt and to the point. And it is not, in my opinion, political naivete.

Anyone who believes galvanizing rhetoric orated on the campaign trail, is a naif–no matter how much or little alphabet soup follows his name.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
3:08 pm

Well, well–I was wrong! She is offended by the French…the 3:06 was held up

Punta is “point” as in Punta Gorda, etc…geographical term…watch this, though, the elite snob lets the French put*ine pass right through!

But, quelle vache, it must be that p-u-t-a!

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

May 22nd, 2010
3:10 pm

Well, count me with Sister Dusty on this one. Alot of people will be going into the mines next week. Most of them will come home alive. Sure, a few will get busted up and a few more will be kilt. That’s a good record, ain’t it? I mean, what you want all the mine owners to do? You can’t shut down the mines because of a few bodies.

Have a good Saturday everybody.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
3:10 pm

K’chak

It wasn’t campaign rhetoric, but smoke-filled, behind the scenes honesty…that’s why I say it told me all I ever needed to know about his world view…

@@

May 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

And all these years, I thought the Italian kid next door to me in California was calling me a punta. Turns out it was p*u*t*a. His name was Peter…Peter Fazzari. My brother called him Dick.

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
3:19 pm

@@

I knew a kid in elementary school named Harold Richard Holder…what were his parents thinking? ISH

@@

May 22nd, 2010
3:34 pm

josef:

what were his parents thinking?

Dunno, but if they applied the uncommon spelling, Herald, he could’a been a forerunner?

josef nix

May 22nd, 2010
3:41 pm

gotta run…back in a bit…

Dusty

May 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

Wll, I am back just in time before my reputation is ruined. RUINED I tell you. Anytime RedNeck starts agreeing with me, I know I am in big trouble. But never listen to a phony redneck. Us real ones know his game.

As to rednecks in general, I am a halfway one having grown up in a town of only seven thousand . I knew my father’s patients who ranged from chalk mine workers to the school superintendent. He treated them all the same. So I try to hold respect for all because we all want respect. I do. Isn’t that our common denominator?

But back to the “evil rich”. The rich industrialists gave this country plenty. The industrial revolution for instance. They were not all angels but neither are all rednecks. Many of the rich started as “common” workers and got rich later. So it goes.

But to totally diminish the worth of the rich who brought it about by their wits and efforts is not truly fair. It bespeaks of envy. To regard them as total crooks is the beginning of communism. Their rights are the same as ours in this great country of ours.

Ted Turner is now working on enhancing other forms of energy. Whatcha bet he’ll make aome advances in that goal? Just one example. Bill Gates was just a computer punk. Now he spreads his wealth around the world. Citing only the rich crooks is overlooking a world of good done by others.

But I must prepare myself for tonight’s great victory. BRAVES playing at 7:05. GO BRAVES!

Kamchak

May 22nd, 2010
4:21 pm

It wasn’t campaign rhetoric, but smoke-filled, behind the scenes honesty…

He said it ten days before the Pennsylvania primary at a fund raiser fer chrissakes while Hillary held a double digit lead over him in Penn. Sure, it was supposed to be a closed fund raiser, but these kinda things always leak out—a consummate politician such as he would have known that.

that’s why I say it told me all I ever needed to know about his world view…

Again with a double standard—thirty words on the campaign trail and you have already sentenced the man, while a non-politician here has equated homosexuality to pedophilia, and not one word from you about that.