If you want further evidence to fill in the blanks of Donald Trump’s blankety-blank boast to revive America’s coal mines, I recommend Paul Krugman’s column in Friday’s New York Times, which you can find online titled “Coal Country is a State of Mind”. Having spent much of my youth in Pennsylvania’s coal country, I’m particularly sensitive to the brutal con game that Trump is playing on the miners of yesteryear who aren’t questioning the absurdity of his words. But as we all must know by now, with the possible exception of his diehard loyalists whose cars still bear Trump bumper stickers, this president resorts to whoppers as entitlements.
Krugman’s column gives us a series of facts and figures about the disappearing coal industry, framing them with the results of the last election in which West Virginia blindly put its trust in Trump’s words by a nearly 3-1 margin over Hillary Clinton. Although the mountaineer state is usually cited as the heart throb of coal extraction, it’s dominant industry these days is health care.
“West Virginia has a relatively old population, so 22 percent of its residents are on Medicare, versus 15.7 percent for the nation as a whole,” Krugman writes. “It’s also a state that has benefited hugely from Obamacare, with the percentage of the population lacking health insurance falling from 14 percent in 2013 to 8 percent in 2015; these gains came mainly from the a big expansion of Medicaid.”
We will concede that people are known to vote against their personal interests. But let’s get real!
The industry died from age and suffocation under its own stifling weight, from rising technology and killer pollutants – trust me, I watched the miners trudge past our door each evening gasping from tortured lungs. Natural gas is cheaper and cleaner. Why would anyone invest in reopening the mines? But such assessments don’t figure into Trump’s political comfort zone. As evidenced in his photo-op a few days ago with reps of the old mines, the cynical fantasy continues. The miners’ jobs he promises to create will hardly be as easy to fill as the White House offices he’s already set aside for his own family and friends.
Krugman concludes with the sharpest words of all to describe Trump’s descent into environmental disaster, noting that it’s ”incredible, and terrifying” because the president has “successfully pandered to cultural nostalgia, to a longing for a vanished past when men were men and miners dug deep”.
Instead, all of America will be digging more widely for Trump Era graves.