Jobs. That’s what Americans are looking for. Where have they gone and why did they leave? One answer is they went for cheaper labor and greater profits. Does that mean that a few are profiting more at the expense of millions who are put out of work? Should we be working harder to preserve jobs and grow jobs? Isn’t President Obama “saving and creating jobs” with his Stimulus Plan? Where are they? Do you know someone who got a lasting job from this effort?
Let's visit the Powhatan #6 coal mine in Belmont County, OH. Travel over 300 feet below ground to see coal being mined. This is a “longwall” operation, a very efficient means of extracting the maximum amount of coal from a mine in a minimum amount of time. The machinery and men that operate them are awesome. Mining is not easy work.
Getting coal out of the ground involves physical labor and mechanization. Dealing with government oversight of mining, on the other hand, is mentally taxing, frustrating, expensive, futile, and often counterproductive. Ryan Murray and Kevin Hughes, mine superintendent, spend 35 to 40 percent of their workdays mitigating federal rules and regulations, citations, new laws, and constant daily inspections by Mine Safety and Health Administration and state inspectors. On any given day there are three to nine inspectors in the mine.
Things have changed in dealing with inspectors’ violation citations. Minor violations not likely to cause injury can no longer be contested. You just have to eat the fine imposed ($60 to $60,000). Only “significant and substantial” violations can be argued or defended on behalf of the mine (up to $220,000 fine). Inspectors always find violations. Part of their job security; their reason for existence.
Opening a new mine in the USA is a truly exasperating challenge. Our government has enacted so many regulations and laws, required so many permits and studies, involved so many agencies who’s approval must be garnered that it is no longer worthwhile to pursue a new mine venture. Recently Bob Murray is flew to South Africa to explore the possibility of opening a coal mine there to provide this resource to India. It’s just too hard and expensive to start a new business in the USA.
Recently plans for a coal-fired power plant were scrapped due to pressure from environmentalists and cost increases. The environmentalists, including the Sierra Club’s Ohio branch, believe it was their efforts that stopped the construction. This was a three billion dollar project that would have brought hundreds of jobs to Meigs County in a region that has huge unemployment; construction jobs and long-term operational jobs. Not going to happen now. But there are “green jobs” in Meigs County – growing marijuana. Too bad marijuana isn’t manna.
Ohio has problems with government organizations; California has some of its own. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, operating under the Endangered Species Act, is working very hard to preserve the habitat of the Delphi Sands flower-loving fly. That’s right, Rhaphiomidas terminatus abdominalis, a cute little bug that made the Endangered Species List a few years ago. There’s a Recovery Plan in effect to protect this fly to the tune of $1.6 million of your tax dollars. They’ve even reduced the speed limits on highways near the fly’s habitats to keep them from getting splattered on windshields.
Further north a much more serious event is still taking place. It seems that the water intake pumps that provided nearly all the irrigation water for the fertile California Central Valley farmland was killing another endangered species, the delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, a 2-3 inch little fish. Can’t have that. A California judge ruled in favor of environmentalists citing the Endangered Species Act and shut off water to nearly 750,000 acres of prime farmland. Already suffering from a drought, the Central Valley has become a virtual desert, and the 40,000 jobs associated with it have also deserted.
What is our government doing? What has become of common sense and greater good? How long can we allow this tail to wag the dog? How many people must lose their jobs before they stand up and shout, nay, scream, “ENOUGH!”? Now is the time. This is the year to send a magnitude 8 tremor through Congress with millions of votes across our country to throw out the powerful House and Senate members who have fed from the public trough for too long. It’s time for Barney Frank, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and a hundred others from both political parties to clean out their offices and go home. This is what our Founding Fathers intended; serve your country for a spell and return to your walk of life. They never intended for people to make politics a profession. They never conceived of someone spending 20, 30, or 40 years in office. That just wouldn’t be honorable in their opinions.