When I see an aging white male frothing about freedoms, the first thing that comes to mind is—well, if we were living in your ideal period, say 1760, you would most likely be dead by now. You can drink that glass of water, because you can be comfortable that it is clean. Same for the food you eat the air that you breathe. So let us look at a couple more examples:
The first example is particularly timely.
5) Freedom to Torture Children,
Freedom to torture, detain without representation.
Stupidparty tough on crime: Disciples seem perfectly content to allow the government the freedom to torture, thus to ignore the Geneva Convention and take away Freedoms without due process (Guantanamo Bay).
Well, they are only foreigners.
Back in America, “Joe Sullivan was sentenced to die in prison at age 13 for a sexual assault. He is physically and mentally disabled but remains imprisoned in Florida.” With the ever-increasing profit-fed incarceration rate, the massive lengths of time in solitary confinement come into greater focus. Worse is the issue of children spending months or longer under such conditions.
Many countries will not allow their citizens to be sent to the USA under extradition treaties—because of the death penalty. This trend is now exacerbated by growing concerns about due process and cruel and unusual punishment. Extended time in solitary—even life—would be considered by most thoughtful people cruel and unusual. As The Guardian reports, “Thousands of teenagers, some as young as 14 or 15, are now routinely subjected by U.S. prisons to this psychological torture.”
More from The Guardian
“One teen who participated in the Human Rights Watch report wrote that being in isolation felt like ‘a slow death from the inside out.’ Molly J said of her time in solitary confinement: ‘I felt doomed, like I was being banished… Like you have the plague or that you are the worst thing on earth. Like you are set apart [from] everything else. I guess [I wanted to] feel like I was part of the human race—not like some animal.’
“Molly was just 16 years old when she was placed in isolation in an adult jail in Michigan. She described her cell as being ‘a box… There was a bed—the slab. It was concrete… There was a stainless steel toilet/sink combo… The door was solid, without a food slot or window… There was no window at all.’
Molly remained in solitary for several months, locked down alone in her cell for at least 22 hours a day.
“No other nation in the developed world routinely tortures its children in this manner. And torture is indeed the word brought to mind by a shocking report released by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘Growing Up Locked Down’ documents, for the first time, the widespread use of solitary confinement on youth under the age of 18 in prisons and jails across the country, and the deep and permanent harm it causes to kids caught up in the adult criminal justice system.”
6) The Freedom to Enslave and Kill Coal Miners.
Or divining what a John Galt (Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand) paradise might look like
Using the U.S. coal mining industry as an example serves a very useful tool in identifying the difference between the Stupidparty Disciples and the British working class (or what Americans rather euphemistically call middle class). In the UK, the working classes are not misdirected by hijacked religious claptrap; they are not confused about adherences to the Constitution or the vital need to own a gun. Although there probably may have been similar levels of fear and prejudice, such resultant bigotry would not have run along party lines. No, the working class were not—are not—the intellectual slaves of the Asset Strippers.
In the UK, the National Union of Mineworkers, or NUM, once had great power; they voted solidly against the Conservative Party; they successfully overthrew the Ted Heath Conservative Party in 1974. Ted Heath had put Britain on a three-day working week to ration electrical consumption, as the country was fast running out of the coal necessary to run the coal-powered power stations.
Even before Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979, she knew she would have to defeat the NUM, and to do that, she had to initiate the timing of the coal miner strike; first, she had to build up coal stockpiles and second make sure the strike started in the spring and not the fall—as that would give her an additional year in any battle of attrition. The strike began March 1984.
So what happened?
- In 1985, Thatcher defeats the miners and massive coal mining closures ensues.
- Coal miners get generous severance, and coal mining jobs are gradually replaced with far safer, healthier vocations as communities adapt (shrink) and slowly recover.
- (In 1947, there were 700,000 coal miners.) In 1979, Britain had 170 underground mines employing about 190,000 people, producing 300m tons of coal, and as a result of orthodox Conservative policy, by 2010 the number of mines had fallen to 3,000 employees, producing 17m tons. A reduction of about 95% or a 98% reduction in the workforce.
Coal mining is a very hazardous and unhealthy occupation.
As seen above, the issue can be tackled and the long-term implications for local communities do not have to be dire—assuming that one has relatively benign “conservative” governance aimed at preventing poverty rather than allowing Asset Stripping to the benefit of the 1%.
But Margaret Thatcher (who came from the “working class”) is not comparable to any Stupidparty leader. She was a scientist with a chemistry Bachelor of Science degree, a fact-based individual who had no tolerance for Myth. She was never a puppet of the 1%. It was not only all the social issues already mentioned, but economic issues, like fully supporting, say, the National Health Service or ensuring generous severance packages in hard times, which made her more progressive than even the U.S. Democrats. But most tellingly, and often forgotten, was the manner in which she sold off the nationalized industries and public housing in a manner strictly designed to disproportionately benefit the less well off or the small investor. She not working for the 1%. She was focused on the 99%. She was the polar opposite of Stupidparty.
Using the U.S. coal mining industry is also a useful example of how wealthy and empowered individuals in the U.S. oftentimes view their employees. It should be noted that coal mining in itself is a highly questionable activity in relation to Global Warming (which helps explain why so few tears were shed in the UK—there being no such thing as “clean coal.” But that is somewhat off topic).
This industry also provides pertinent insight into Ayn Rand’s idealistic John Galt paradise. One has to wonder how a total lack of regulations would pan out for anyone not invited to the Benefactor “country club,” not able to untether themselves from the shackles of slavery that “Freedoms” have so kindly provided. Well, unlike H. G. Wells, we do not have to be quite so visionary; maybe we can get a glimpse into the not so distant future—by taking a closer look at present-day coal mining in the U.S.
Since the Stupidparty selected the homophobic high school bully, Asset Stripping Gordon Gekko “greed is good” twin, Mitt Romney, as their most recent standard bearer, we have a good place to start this analysis.
Coal Mine Owners—Benefactors to Stupidparty:
On August 14, 2012, Murray hosted Mitt Romney at Murray Energy’s Century Coal Mine in Beallsville, Ohio. Robert Murray is the CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, one of the largest independent operators of coal mines in the United States
You will Vote for me and then you can drop dead.
“If some of the coal miners standing with Mitt Romney in his new campaign ad don’t look happy, it’s probably because they’re not. The campaign pulled the footage for its new ‘War on Coal’ spot from a recent Ohio rally; some coal miners complained they were forced to take a day off without pay to attend.
“The footage of Romney, flanked by coal miners, was taken at a Beallsville, Ohio, rally in August, where about a dozen employees have told WWVA-AM they were pulled out of the mine to join the Republican candidate. Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore told the radio station in an extended interview that the company shut down the mine because senior managers wanted to attend, and it could not remain open during a rally. ‘We had managers that communicated [to employees] that the attendance was mandatory,’ Moore said. ‘But no one was forced to attend the event.’”
Encouraged by management, Murray workers have ponied up more than $120,000 to help elect Romney.
Alec MacGillis (in The New Republic) writes:
“The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.”
May 2012 Murray raises $1.7m for Mitt Romney during a single event.
Oct 2012 Murray and his company are accused of violations of federal campaign laws. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) charge that Murray coerced its employees into giving 1% of their salary to Murray Energies Corporation Political Action Committee (PAC)
Three days after the 2012 presidential election Murray downsizes 156 workers, blaming Obama’s supposed war on coal.
But I am not convinced that being forced to contribute to a political PAC, closing down the mine without pay and then intimidating individuals to act as a backdrop, is the real reason these guys might be aggravated.
So what is really motivating Bob Murray:
*Having left Congress after an embarrassing 2007 arrest, former senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has quietly reemerged in Washington as a lobbyist working on behalf of the coal industry. According to his federal filings, Craig has registered to wheedle his former Capitol colleagues on the obscure but critical issue of mine safety.
This unwillingness to implement safety standards is somewhat surprising, as safety should have been (and may have been) pretty much their top priority, especially when considering what had happened in the not-so-distant past:
Crandall Canyon Mine collapse: (Wiki)
Murray and his companies received national attention in August 2007 when six miners were trapped at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, of which Murray Energy independent operating subsidiary Utah American Energy had been a part-owner for 12 months. Prior to the collapse, the Crandall Canyon Mine had received 64 violations and $12,000 in fines, magnitudes similar to other mines of this size in the United States. He says that the safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not having enough toilet paper in the restroom. However, some news agencies reported troubling violations at other of Murray’s operations. CNN specifically cited Murray’s Illinois Galatia mine, which had almost 3,500 safety citations in the prior two and a half years.
Murray claims that the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse was triggered by a 3.9 magnitude earthquake, while government seismologists say the mine collapse was the cause of a coal mine bump. Richard E. Stickler, the government’s top mine safety official, said, “It was not—and I repeat, it was not—a natural occurring earthquake.”
Douglas S. Dreger, a seismologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said in the July 2008 issue of Science that his analysis strongly suggested that the mountain crumbled in two stages: After the pillars collapsed, giant, angled slabs of sandstone above the mine abruptly shifted. When the mine collapse finally occurred, it was so powerful that it registered as a 3.9 earthquake. Although the widely used industry practice of retreat mining is believed by some observers to be a cause of the mine’s 2007 collapse, Murray insists the process was not responsible.
On July 24, 2008, the U.S. government’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced its highest penalty for coal mine safety violations, $1.85 million, for the collapse.
The Upper Big Branch:
This disaster occurred on April 5, 2010, roughly 1,000 feet (300 m) underground, in Raleigh County, West Virginia, at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine located in Montcoal. Twenty-nine out of thirty-one miners at the site were killed… The accident was the worst in the United States since 1970…
On May 19, 2011, the independent investigation team released a report which faulted both Massey Energy and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for the blast. Massey was strongly condemned by the report for multiple failures to meet basic safety standards outlined in the Mine Act of 1977. “A company that was a towering presence in the Appalachian
“A company that was a towering presence in the Appalachian coal fields operated its mines in a profoundly reckless manner, and 29 coal miners paid with their lives for the corporate risk-taking,” read the report. “The company’s ventilation system did not adequately ventilate the mine. As a result, explosive gasses were allowed to build up.” Also detailed in the report are allegations that Massey Energy threatened miners with termination if they stopped work in areas that lacked adequate oxygen levels. Numerous other state and federal safety standards that Massey failed to comply with were detailed in the report.
Investigators also say that the U.S. Department of Labor and its Mine Safety and Health Administration were at fault for failing to act decisively at the mine even after Massey was issued 515 citations for safety violations at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2009. The report lambasts MSHA inspectors for failing to issue a flagrant violation citation which could have fined the company up to $220,000. Investigators claimed that this citation was entirely necessary given Massey’s failure to meet basic safety protocols and the investigators found it “disturbing” that the violation was not issued.
The failure to issue flagrant violation citations was attributed to MSHA which also failed to notify the miners and their families that they were working in a mine which had not met minimal safety requirements. As further evidence of MSHA’s failures in the lead up to the UBB mine explosion, the report discusses how MSHA safety inspectors failed to enforce the safety protocols at Massey Energy’s Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine. In 2007, a fire broke out at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine, killing two miners. The report described the fire as “preventable” and cites an internal MSHA review following the fire which found that inspectors “were shocked by the deplorable conditions of the mine” and that MSHA inspectors had “failed” to enforce adequate safety measures. Furthermore, the report outlines how in the lead up to the blast the UBB mine “experienced at least three major methane-related events.” One in 1997, another in 2003, and a third in 2004.
Instead of addressing these issues, “Upper Big Branch management elected to consider each methane outburst or explosion as an anomaly.” Furthermore, MSHA officials “did not compel (or to our knowledge even ask) UBB management to implement,” safety precautions following these events.
The report claims that Massey used its power “to attempt to control West Virginia’s political system.” The report cites how politicians were afraid of the company because it “was willing to spend vast amounts of money to influence elections.” Massey intentionally neglected safety precautions for the purpose of increasing profit margins according to the report. Safety precautions in mines are “a hard-earned right paid for with the blood of coal miners,” read the report’s introduction.
The report was produced by an independent team of investigators appointed by former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and led by Davitt McAteer, a former federal mine safety chief who has investigated other mine disasters in the state.
It was claimed [in the report] that the FBI had launched a probe investigating the possible bribery of federal officials overseeing mining industry regulation by Massey Energy.
additional sources. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/04/fbi_probing_fed_officials_and.html
and subsequently… in 2011
“The security chief of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine was arrested Monday and charged with obstructing the investigation into last year’s explosion that killed 29 miners, the first criminal charges stemming from the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.”
and subsequently… in 2013
The former president of Massey Energy’s White Buck Coal and the Green Valley Resource Group David Hughart, 53, has become the highest-ranking coal official to date to be sentenced to prison for violating U.S. mine health and safety standards. In addition to a 42-month prison sentence, Hughart was also ordered to serve an additional three years of supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Beth Goodwin. Although Hughart never worked at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia–where 29 men were killed in April 2010 in the largest coal disaster in 40 years–he admitted that he and others at Massey conspired to violate health and safety laws and to conceal those violations by warning mine operations when MSHA inspectors were arriving to conduct mine inspections.
Black Lung Disease.
“Black lung” is a legal term describing a preventable, occupational disease contracted by prolonged breathing of coal mine dust. In 1969 the U.S. Congress ordered the eradication of black lung from the industry. Today, it is estimated that each year 1500 former miners die an agonizing death, often away from the spotlight, in isolated rural communities.
“Eastern Kentucky and nearby areas of West Virginia and Virginia have seen a pronounced spike in cases of black lung, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In Eastern Kentucky, 9% of the miners screened in one NIOSH program between 2005 and 2009 had black lung. It was the highest prevalence of any state.”
Read more here, http://www.kentucky.com/2013/08/22/2781347/us-rep-andy-barr-questions-need.html#storylink=cpy
As the Center for Public Integrity reports:
“After decades of decline, black lung is back. Its resurgence is concentrated in central Appalachia. Younger miners are increasingly getting the most severe, fastest-progressing form of the disease.” The system for monitoring miners’ exposure to the dust that causes black lung allows companies to cheat or exploit loopholes
From 2000 to 2011, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, MSHA, received more than 53,000 valid samples showing underground miners had been exposed to more dust than was allowed. Yet the agency issued just under 2,400 violations. This may be attributable, in part, to rules that allow samples to be averaged, potentially masking some miners’ high exposures.
Even when companies get caught, they have little to fear. They can take five of their own dust samples to prove compliance, and an MSHA citation goes away.
The agency has routinely given companies extra time to fix cited dust problems, granting extensions in 57 percent of cases between 2000 and 2011.
Andy Barr, SP Rep. Kentucky 6th:
says, “Many members of Congress have questions about the rules, including whether they would add burden and cost on coal companies that would far outweigh any benefit to miners. If companies cut employment because of regulatory costs, it does nothing to advance the cause of workers’ health.”
“Worker safety is a top priority, but not at the cost of putting that family in a very precarious financial situation.”
This is Orwellian speak for worker safety must be sacrificed for profit.
Think Progress reports (Sept 20, 2012):
“Coal has backed the GOP’s political campaign with heavy spending on TV ads, lobbying, and political contributions. Coal and dirty utilities have spent a total $66 million on lobbying since 2011. House Republicans have received $4.4 million in career contributions from the coal industry—nearly 5 times the amount Democratic members received.
“In 2012 alone, Republicans received 89% of the coal industry’s campaign contributions.”
Fred Upton, SP Rep. Michigan 6th, Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee,
has received $60,000 from both major utilities and the coal industry.
David McKinley, SP Rep. West Virginia lst:
Another supporter, he is the top recipient of coal cash for 2012, having received over $200,000.
“The coal industry has also waged a separate ‘public awareness’ campaign on pro-coal TV ads. The American Coalition for ‘Clean Coal’ Electricity has so far spent $12 million of its promised $40 million election-year  budget on ads this cycle. So far, total fossil fuel spending has exceeded $153 million.”
Yes, I want more freedoms, we all want more freedoms, we all would like to be free to simply demand that these politicians represent their constituents and not their contributors.