Monday, February 20, 2017

Coal Miners in America

Chart from Kevin Drum. You can see that employment for coal miners fell by 100,000 between 1950 and 1955, before there were any environmental regulations to speak of. Trump supporters are claiming that his waving off a single proposed environmental rule will save 70,000 jobs, but there are only 65,000 coal miners in America. Incidentally those 65,000 miners produce 80% more coal than the 400,000 did in 1950.

This chart is just for miners, and there are plenty of other people who work in the coal industry, but miners are the largest category and the overall numbers have followed a similar trend.

It seems strange to me that we are so focused on coal these days, given that even by a broad definition that includes power plant workers there are only 175,000 jobs in the whole American coal industry, 0.12% of total employment. Why not give a little attention to waiters or nurses?


G. Verloren said...

"Why not give a little attention to waiters or nurses?"

Because we live in patriarchal society, and coal miners are seen as good ol' fashioned, salt of the earth, straight talking, no nonsense, totally 100% heterosexual macho manly men who eat raw steak, rusted nails, and cigar butts for breakfast; while waiters are seen as a bunch of effeminate sissy boy beta cucks who are too pathetic to work real jobs and instead have to make a living by serving others manlier than them; and nurses, of course, are seen as either women or homosexual men, both of which are considered worthless and contemptible sub-human creatures that exist solely to bring sin into the world and whose only redeeming feature is they make good punching bags for the alphas to take out their frustrations on.

I mean, for fuck's sake, our society's collective heroic ideal is the archetypical cowboy - a strong, gruff, gun-toting man devoid of emotion who rides into town as a total outsider and employs wanton violence to forcibly impose his personal conceptions of order and justice on entire communities, wins the total and unquestioning adoration of most of the locals, metes out immediate punishment and retribution to any of them who dissent (because if they're not with him, they're automatically against him), and then immediately leaves, never to be seen again.

Which is why a lot of people voted for Reagan, the ex-actor most famous for playing cowboys in westerns.

And it's also why a lot of people voted for Trump. They wanted a tough talking, swaggeringly masculine, "outsider" messiah figure to ride into town, beat up "the bad guys", silence the dissenters, somehow solve all of the town's problems with nothing but heavy handed violence and sheer bravado, magically ensuring lasting peace, harmony, and prosperity for all time in the process, and then ride off into the sunset to be eternally missed by his adoring rescuees.

Nurses? Waiters? Who cares about those people? You'll never see a western in which the hero is a caretaker of any sort. The local doctor, the undertaker, the saloon barkeep, the saloon waitress - they're all depicted as either drunkards, cowards, liars, cheats, idiots, floozies, or outright corrupt and immoral forces of evil, either directly in league with the bad guys or indirectly enabling them through their flaws. The only way the town is ever saved is for the mythic male god-hero to show up from the outside and law down the law through violence.

leif said...

that's hard to argue with.

what this also shows is the pervasiveness of the neocon agenda, in which all of the foregoing points are interwoven. part of the RNC's pledge has been to keep 'conservative' issues in the news, on peoples' minds and try to find ways to make this seem right, safe and true. it's national agenda-setting at its most brilliant (or devious, depending on one's general bent). for reasons unknown to me, the dems just haven't caught on to how to do this.