On Tuesday CNN released an article titled “America’s largest private coal miner files for bankruptcy”: HTML.
Allow me to quote the first eight words of the article:
“The slow death of the American coal industry” -CNN
I interpret this as: the industry had time to adjust to a changing environment and marketplace, but did not. The next sentence in the article states “bankruptcy has been telegraphed for years.” Again, no adjustments, just lobbying the government to help your business survive in a disappearing market. What I highlight in red draws attention to hypocrisy: On one hand, people like Murray Energy’s CEO push for “free markets,” “less government,” and “deregulation.” Then when stuff hits the fan those same people and entities crushed by the free markets they advocated go to the government they criticized for a bailout. Allow me to illustrate with another quote from the CNN article:
“The president [Trump] moved swiftly to slash environmental regulations and even installed a former coal lobbyist to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency. But the deregulatory push has been overwhelmed by market forces. Coal just can’t compete with cheap natural gas and the plunging cost of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy.” -CNN
Note those market forces are not solely reduced demand in the United States. Coal exports have declined steadily as well. The demise of the coal market was clear, companies like Murrary Energy did not adjust, and now they file for bankruptcy protection. But before bankruptcy protection there was the desperate plea to the government (remember, the “less government” originally advocated for in the “free market” push) for a bailout. Another quote from the article bringing the “free market” hypocrisy to the fore:
“In August 2017, Robert Murray, a forceful Trump supporter, wrote a letter to the Trump administration urgently requesting an emergency order to protect coal-fired power plants from being closed.” -CNN
Note the request for an “emergency order.” Is this how the United States government should be run? Whenever Congress disagrees with the President the President declares a “national emergency”? Fortunately, in the case of Murray Energy “the Trump administration rejected that cry for help because officials determined there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant the use of emergency authority” (CNN).
Now this brings us to Dave Chappelle. What’s a comedian got to do with this? Well if you have Netflix (which I don’t) you may have seen his Equanimity series. In that series Chappelle references the coal industry times (transcript available here: HTML). In reference to listening to alleged coal miners in line to vote in the 2016 election:
“I listened to them say naive poor white people things. ‘Man, Donald Trump’s gonna go to Washington, and he’s gonna fight for us.’ I’m standing there thinking in my mind, ‘You dumb ****. You are poor. He’s fighting for me.’”” -Chappelle, Equanimity
Back to the CNN article, let’s see what is in store for coal mine workers:
“Mine workers stand to lose in the bankruptcy — not just in jobs but potentially in the erosion of healthcare and pension benefits. Murray Energy is the last major company contributing to the pension plan of the United Mine Workers of America. The pension plan’s depleted funding will only get worse if Murray Energy is relieved of its pension requirements.” -CNN
The Trump Administration has already cut taxes for corporations and lowered the rate for top earners (like CEO Murray, and people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Dave Chappelle, and other rich people.) So yes, Dave Chappelle, while standing in line to vote in 2016, was absolutely correct: President Trump, and his Administration, worked for wealthy people like Dave Chappelle and not the mine workers who are looking at losing their jobs, pension, and healathcare.
Now, why would a bankruptcy court relieve Murray Energy of is pension requirements? Again, to ensure wealthy people who invested into Murray Energy can recoup some of their investment. Again, this would be an example of the Administration working on behalf of the wealthy – and the very people harmed by this (the mine workers) are the very people that voted for this Administration. The same story can be told of the erosion of healthcare benefits: why erode them? So wealthy corporations and individuals can profit more at the expense of those who voted themselves on the path to that erosion.
I’ve rambled on enough now. However, I will share one more quote from Chappelle’s equanimity that humorously speaks to capitalism:
“I want to wear Nikes. I don’t want to make them shits. What the *** are you doing? Stop trying to give us Chinese jobs. ‘I am going to bring back coal.’ Coal?! I’m not even exaggerating… I have never in my life even seen a ******* lump of coal. I honestly don’t even know what coal is for. If you gonna have ******* digging in the dirt looking for shit, find me some truffles” -Chappelle, Equanimity
Actually, I believe truffles are found by certain dogs in certain regions of the world. But I’m not a truffle expert. I trust you get the point Chappelle was making and hopefully this CNN article about Murray Energy puts everything in context.