The Cruel Coal Hoax

Donald Trump is a con man. He is preying upon the most desperate among us. He is like the immoral teenage boy in his daddy’s car on a Friday night with a pretty girl; he will promise anything (with no intent to deliver) in order to get what he wants at that moment. Trump made another trip to West Virginia last week to reinforce his ego and make more empty promises to desperate Americans. Let’s explore.

Trump keeps promising that coal jobs are coming back. He also perpetuates the myth of clean coal. He touts the opening of a new mine. In days gone by coal mining was labor intensive and employed thousands of miners providing good paying, if dangerous, jobs in the process. Today, mining is much more automated and the crews required number in the scores, not thousands.

More importantly the global economy is rapidly moving away from coal. One of coal’s biggest replacements is natural gas which is also a fossil fuel and the means of extraction are primarily controlled by the same forces that control coal mines. The biggest reason coal jobs will not return in a plentiful number is because the demand for coal is dwindling and will continue to dwindle both domestically and internationally. We are in what I like to call a second industrial revolution and coal will be one of its victims.

Trump likes to brag about a new coal mine opening up on his watch. I doubt it went from conception to opening in this brief period of time, so the credit must be shared. Regardless, only 800 new coal jobs have appeared on Trump’s watch. While good that is far from a panacea for West Virginia or other coal mining states. Even assuming those 800 jobs were good paying jobs they would be insufficient to support a town of 10,000. West Virginia’s current population is more than 1.8 million.

The future is renewable energy. Due to climate the exact source will vary by region. A primary source will be solar energy. Especially in the South (a Trump stronghold) there is plenty of sunshine almost without regard to the calendar. This is an industry that will only grow over the foreseeable future and with that growth will come millions of jobs. Today China is the world leading manufacturer of solar panels. (I wonder if China will be the supplier of the solar panels Trump wants to put on his wall with Mexico.)

We are forsaking an emerging global industry in order to embrace Trump’s false promises about a dying industry. How does that translate into global leadership and economic dominance? Currently there are more health care jobs than coal mining jobs in West Virginia and the potential for job growth is much rosier in health care than coal mining. Yet, Trump is trying to take health care away from millions of Americans including many who live in West Virginia.

If you follow Trump’s “logic” perhaps when Congress gets back in town he can send legislation up to Capitol Hill asking for tax credits for blacksmiths and chimney sweeps. While he is at it why not add an incentive for spats manufacturers? He could make it all part of his revamping of the tax code.

One way or another we will see Trump exit the White House eventually. The harm he does to America will last much longer. All those people cheering him on at his pep rallies will be among those who will suffer. Like the pretty girl in the car, they are the ones who will have to live with the consequences. Their only “sin” is that they heard what they hoped for and fell for the hoax.

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