Friday, April 09, 2010

Coal Miner's Daughter

The so sad news, once again coming out of West Virginia, evokes in me untold amounts of anger, as well as sympathy. Sympathy for the hard-scrabble working families who loyally toil day after day in one of the most beautiful, but poorest parts of our country. And seething anger at the greed and cold calculations of mine owners who value production and profit over safey and health.

The roots of both sides of my family go directly to the eastern and southern counties of Ohio that border the river of the same name. Generations of Coveys, Wylies, Calls, and Judds were farmers, miners, and factory workers from the uppper Ohio river valley in the tri-state area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. These English-Scottish working and middle class families worked hard, schooled their kids, and attended the Methodist churches that dotted the country-side. They hunted in the hills, fought in the wars, and voted Republican. And all too often they mourned the loss of friends and neighbors to mine cave-ins and black lung disease.

To read, once again of a mning disaster where at least 25 more men have died is heart-breaking.
To read that the Massey mines are notorious for skirting safety rules,ingoring health regulations, and amassing hundreds of violations makes one want to scream bloody murder.

Evidently a mine owner can decide that dangerous conditions are an acceptable way of doing business, and it appears that it may be more profitable to increase production and reap more income and pay the fines and court costs and even pay the grieving widows and their lawsuits. You can get richer this way rather than to do the right things that can protect the lives of your employees.

This is not right in an advanced nation that America thinks it is. Will America ever realize that unfettered capitalism is not the best way to be a great country? Does money and profits and greed always get one a "get out of jail free card"?

The next time you hear Glenn Beck or Ann Coulter speak out about the too powerful unions and the weight of government regulations that strangle American businesses, think about the families in West Virginia who may have their own dead buried twice. Once as the mine gasses exploded, and once again in their own family graveyard.


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