If you need me, I’ll be mining coal
Sorry this essay is so late. I’ve just been really busy these last couple days with all the coal jobs I’m getting.
I get calls every day from coal recruiters like, “Hey Alex, get out here. Now that we can pour acid into rivers, we’ve got lots of work for you to do.” Instead of writing, I’ve been underground, taking the coal out, dusting it off so it’s “clean coal”, then sending it off to places that need it like steam locomotives and bad children’s stockings.
Obviously that’s a lie; I keep my hands clean for texting. But it’s also a lie that the coal industry is going to come back by repealing environmental protections that hadn’t even gone into affect yet. The industry didn’t die because they had to stop pouring poison into creeks, it died because the market has been flooded with cheap natural gas. If the president actually wanted to bring back coal mining, he could: just ban fracking.
That’s the kind of policy I can really get behind: giving both sides something they wanted but in the worst possible way. I like to call these The Monkey’s Paw-licy. Like if there was single payer healthcare, but it was funded entirely by a tax on organic food.
Or if you gave teachers guns, but instead of bullets they shot little Wile E Coyote flags that told kids that gay people exist.
I don’t want to seem callous to people in coal mining towns who lost their jobs; it sucks when industries change and destroy a way of life. Blacksmiths went from being the most crucial technology experts in every town… to renaissance festival performers.
You can’t fall further than that.
But it’s no better to just lie to people who are out of work. “Don’t worry, once we change this one little rule, everybody’s gonna need their horses shod again.”
You can’t regulate away change. John Henry fought against the future and he won… if by winning you mean he laid one piece of railroad then died in his prime.
In my home state of Oregon, the same thing has happened with the timber industry. It wasn’t destroyed by environmental regulations, the Oregon timber industry was decimated by cheap lumber from China. But change works both ways: during that same period of time, Oregon’s Christmas tree exports have exploded, mostly because of demand from China. Which means somewhere in the Pacific Ocean a ship full of trees is passing a ship full of DIFFERENT TREES.
When I picture it, the captains honk and wave at each other as they pass, like bus drivers.