Michael Maiello's picture

    The Doubts of Hazard

    Today, Richard Cohen visits Hazard, Kentucky to profile Trump supporters.  The long and short of it seems to be that eight years of Obama's Environmental Protection Agency pushing the country away from coal asn an energy source has destroyed Eastern Kentucky's economy.  No doubt that, along with low oil and natural gas prices, have taken their toll on the region.  Though we all know, really, that regions and countries who base their economies on natural resources are especially prey to boom and bust cycles, Obama has taken disporportionate blame here.

    Still, Hillary Clinton did gaffe about putting coal miners out of work and, as Cohen reports:

    Hazard, set in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, is a once bustling town with its guts wrenched out. On Main Street, the skeleton of a mall that burned down last year presents its charred remains for dismal contemplation. Young people with drugged eyes lean against boarded-up walls on desolate streets. The whistle of trains hauling coal, once as regular as the chiming of the hours, has all but vanished. So have the coal trucks spewing splinters of rock that shattered windshields. In the age of cheap natural gas and mountaintop removal mining, a coal town is not where you want to be.

    To which my first reaction was, "these people should, to the extent possible, move."  I don't write that lightly.  I know it's easier said than done.  Were I to design a system, economic prospects would be a secondary, rather than primary concern in the choice people make about where to live.  But our system has always expected flexibility in this regard. We expect people to seek out communities where they can make a living.  So maybe the government should help people do that by giving tax credits and even grants to job seekers willing to move for employment.  I'd rather convince President Hillary Clinton of that than President Donald Trump.

    A few paragraphs later:

    “Trump’s going to get us killed, probably!” he [local, Steve Smith] ]told me. “But I’ll vote for him anyway over Hillary. If you vote for Hillary you vote for Obama, and he’s made it impossible to ship coal. This place is about dried up. A job at Wendy’s is the only thing left. We may have to move.”

    So, this is the non-racial component of "Make America Great Again," which is really, "I want the president to bring back to prominence an industry that has collapsed.  I'm not sure what Trump thinks he can accomplish here, though.  You can, of course, bring back the U.S. coal business by requiring the federal government to purchase coal at above market prices, if even just to stockpile it.  But I can't imagine either party in Congress going for such a blatant giveaway that it can't even be called Keynesian.  It wouldn't work, anyway.  Nobody is building coal-powered power plants these days.  There is no growth here.  Demand will dwindle well before the coal supply runs out. The future is natural gas and renewables.  Basically, Cohen's subjects want a big coal bailout, but they think they're conservative.

    He was awaiting his son, in court on a drug charge for the painkiller Percocet. A retired operator of heavy equipment for the Road Department, Bush said his son did nothing, “just a few odd jobs.” He continued: “Obama’s probably never known hardship. He and Hillary don’t get it. At least Trump don’t hold nothing back: If he don’t like something, he tells you about it.”

    Now, all empathy to the guy here, but this is just backwards.  He's voting for Trump and his complaint is that Obama has never known hardship.  When Trump was a kid, he was chauffeured by Cadillac while working his paper route.

    If anything, the complaint here should be against both parties and out drug abuse laws.  We find out a paragraph later that his son has failed a drug test and is "locked up," for it.  There are few details given of the case, but if his son is being locked up for a victimless crime, this guy should be voting for Gary Johnson.

    Clinton will likely win while losing Appalachia and that's probably the best thing for Appalachia.  I hope Democrats remember we have an obligation to use government effectively to help people in transition to move, change skills or at least not suffer the changing whims of the economy.  I know we're nowhere near there yet, but a living wage program would actually end these problems before they even began, then nobody would have to move if they didn't want to.



    Okay, I'm no genius, but it seems to me that any Senator worth his salt would have worked hard to find new industries to come in and fill the void instead of stubbornly insisting the state could thrive in a 21st century economy no longer based on coal mining. 

    Let's see, who would those Senators be?  Mitch McConnell?!!  D'OH!  Rand Paul?!  D'OH!!    I'm beginning to see why it's obviously Obama's fault for living in the 21st century and not the fault of the state's own Senators for not fighting to build a more diverse economy in the state. (sigh)

    National Review had an report on the region in 2014, and mentioned a visit by a NYT columnist N. Kristof:

    The draw,” the monthly welfare checks that supplement dependents’ earnings in the black-market Pepsi economy, is poison. It’s a potent enough poison to catch the attention even of such people as those who write for the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof, visiting nearby Jackson, Ky., last year, was shocked by parents who were taking their children out of literacy classes because the possibility of improved academic performance would threaten $700-a-month Social Security disability benefits, which increasingly are paid out for nebulous afflictions such as loosely defined learning disorders. “This is painful for a liberal to admit,” Kristof wrote, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency.” There is much here to confound conservatives, too. Jim DeMint likes to say that marriage is our best anti-poverty program, and he also has a point. But a 2004 study found that the majority of impoverished households in Appalachia were headed by married couples, not single mothers. 

    If the kids get educated, it also increases the chance they will leave the region.

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/367903/white-ghetto-kevin-d-willia...


    It is interesting. Blacks who escaped from poverty, generally leave the area and try to aid their parents with funds earned in distant cities. The stereotype is the black athlete who buys a house for the parents. Most black parents are glad to see their children leave an impoverished area. 

    Yeah, this has been Kevin Williamson's thing for a while.  But I think it's too convenient to blame this on the welfare state, such as it is.  Our welfare benefits are just not very generous.  I think it's a combination of people not wanting to move with people being unable to move and that solutions such as education don't tend to win people over because the benefits are way off in the future.  Too often, the education answer is something like, "I know you don't have a job but don't worry, we're teaching your kids computers.  Everything will be fine in a generation or two."  It doesn't wash.  Which is not to say I'm against education, of course.  But what about the people, who are not children, and need help now?

    From experience the perverse thing is the families that need the safety net the most, Medicaid for instance, are often the least likely or the last families in a poor commnity to jump through the maze of paperwork hoops to get it.

    "Dupes of Hazard"- never trust Nicholas Kristof for anything. Hillary will come through for the cracker voter even if they don't support her. Maybe legalizing crystal meth is the obvious next step. The dole straight to mainlined speed - accept no substitutes. Sody pop, eh?

    How about a link to Cohen's article.

    Whoops! Here. I'll work it into the post as well.

    Doubts of Hazard, or Dupes of Hazard, or Dopes of Hazard. They're fucking clueless about the causes of their problems and they prefer lies about the solutions rather than the truth. They're the same people who shouted "Drill baby drill" 4 and 8 years ago. Well we drilled baby and are awash in natural gas and oil from fracking. No power plant is going to use coal when gas is so much better, especially when combined with renewables, and now is cheaper. Natural gas plants can be running at full power in 30 minutes from a cold start. Coal fired plants need several hours and don't work well with the fluctuating output from renewables.

    So they want the trade deals torn up. The only thing keeping the coal industry alive is exports.    US coal exports increased rapidly in 2011, returning to levels not seen since the early 1990s,[1] and accelerating to keep up with rapidly rising global demand.  If the coal miners want Trump to start a trade war they will be the ones most hurt by it.

    For at least eight years democrats have been fighting for massive plan to repair our failing infrastructure.  Democrats have been blocked by the republican idiots the Dopes of Hazard voted into congress. America could easily put all these unemployed coal miners to work not just repairing old failing roads, bridges, water gas and sewage pipes,etc. but also upgrading our energy delivery systems and expanding broadband internet service.

    They like Trump because he scapegoats the same groups they scapegoat for their problems. He tells them the lies they want to hear. If they vote for Trump and he wins they deserve the increased suffering they will surely get. If they're unemployed they have plenty of time to read and learn about the real causes of their problems and to look at the solutions proposed by the two candidates. If they can't be bothered to turn off WWE or NASCAR TV and read, if they get suckered in by a con man, fuck em. I'm tired of coddling morons who over and over again vote against their own interests to the detriment of us all.

    They long for the good old days

    Hey. A lot of erudite liberals watch WWE.

    But they don't tell people they're erudite.  Duh.

    Really? I had no idea. wink

    - Bah gawd, King!  That damned, dirty Maiello just hit Ocean-Kat with a TOS violation out of nowhere, for no reason at all, and Wolraich didn't even see it! This isn't the rule of law.  This is anarchy!

    - JR, it is the rule of law, it's the golden rule, he who has the gold, rules!

    - Maiello will get his, King.  I just know it!

    I apologize for the WWE reference. Just a little gentle ribbing that I couldn't resist.

    You have to know I'm kidding, right?

    Yeah right, put him in a Bulgarian stranglehold and smash him into the turnbuckle, and then say, "just joshing". Hate to see you when you're serious. The good news is you have on a bit defensive now.


    I always assume that anyone is kidding when they talk about giving me a tos warning. I mean really, I'm such a nice guy, how could anyone seriously give me a tos warning.

    Because sometimes meanhearted people take advantage of the good-natured. Look at these bruisers on the masthead - nary a heartstring among the lot. The deplorablest of the deplorable. You're like a lamb to the slaughter.

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