Tuesday, February 11, 2020

From a Coal Miner's Daughter

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Bette Bono is an All Things That Matter Press author who wrote the novel, The Better Angels. She told me about an essay her father had written about coal mining in the 40s and thought it would be worth sharing.

"Here is my dad's essay. He was probably 18 or 19 when he wrote it. The V-12 program got him out of the mine, gave him an engineering degree (going to Northwestern full time for 2 1/2 years) and a chance for a long and healthy life. He also met my mom at Northwestern. They were married at age 20 in 1946. After his term in the navy was up, he went to work for Underwriters Laboratories and became quite an expert on fire protection engineering. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers has an award named after him. Quite a journey for a kid that grew up in a "company town."

The Coal Mine Question*
by Jack Bono
[*Probably written in late 1943 or 1944. In April 1943, 500,000 miners went on strike.]
It has always been my contention that before anyone can pass judgement on anything, he should have a little knowledge of the situation. It is because of this lack of knowledge that the men who mine the coal of the nation have become the point of much undeserved criticism. People who have never cast eyes on a coal mine have denounced the miners and spoken of them slurringly. In their estimation, the miner holds the position of one step lower than the rodent class in social standing. It is this feeling which the miner has been forced to combat down through the years. Having had a little experience in the coal fields of western Pennsylvania, I am attempting to show a few facts which may have bearing on your future opinions of that gloryless hero, the coal miner.
Examination of the weekly wage scale of the miner proved that he earned an average of $45.00. Now I will show what the majority of the outraged patriots of the country do not know. In order to do this, I will bring to view a few details on the actual mining of the coal. The miner’s place of work is usually 20 feet in length or width and 8 feet high. He loads the coal out in blocks called “cuts” which must be blown out by the use of dynamite. A machine must come into his place and cut a swath six inches high along the bottom of the cut of coal. Three holes, one on either side and one in the center of the cut, must be drilled by the miner; three holes, demanding the constant shoving of an auger against the coal, sapping the strength of the miner, making the final turns an agony of strained muscles. In each side hole were inserted five sticks of powder and in the center hole, six sticks were inserted. The end sticks of powder in each hole contained a cap with extended wires. These wires were attached to the cord which carried an electric current and set off the explosion. After the coal detached itself from the side and roof, falling the six inches cut by the machine, the slate on top of the coal had to be shot down. This demanded five small holes each containing a half stick of powder but also demanding five caps. Since a miner needs to load at least three cuts of coal to earn $45.00 and each stick of powder and cap cost 4 ½ cents and 6 ½ cents respectively the cost amounted to $4.05 on powder and caps alone. Another expenditure was the average of $1.00 weekly taken out for the checkweightman who calculated the weight of each car of coal loaded by the miner. The expense of tools including files, shovels, picks, axes, and other necessities amounted to $2.00 per week. The total occupational deduction, exclusive of the regular deductions suffered by other occupations, amounts to $7.00, leaving the miner’s wage at $38.00. Surely, no one can say that $38.00 is a fair wage for such a worker today.
Another stumbling block in the progress of equality for the miner is the time element. I am reminded of the Kentucky miner who said, a few years back “I would be happy if I could but once see the sun.” Conditions have improved since then but the miner still spends ten hours [a day] of his time in the mine. The man trip which carries a miner to his section took at least one hour and fifteen minutes of travel as an average for the mine at which I had the misfortune to work. Then followed a walk to his particular place of work in the section, a possible wait for the machine to cut his place, time lost while waiting for the shotfire to shoot down his coal, a delay while posts were set and finally loading the coal. Out of all the labor done by him, only the amount of coal loaded determine his wage. The rest of the time was wasted. Was it then too much to ask for “portal to portal” or travel time pay?
In conclusion I might add that no occupation involving the number of men in the coal mining industry is as dangerous to the health and life of a miner. The draft board of our locality emitted the following statistics: Out of all the men rejected for military service, 21% were rejected because of severe asthma and an additional 13 1/3 % were affected by some lung conditions. I scoff at their bewilderment at these figures because I know that it is an impossibility to work in a place of such poor ventilation, with the air polluted with coal dust and rock dust which was used to prevent dampness, and not be affected by this condition. Knowing the dangers of a coal mine, I was not surprised to find the mortality rate to be ¾% or the injury rate to be an amazing 26%. There is a definite term for an injured person. He is defined as a person able to collect compensation insurance which demanded that he be unable to work for a minimum of eight days. It isn’t amazing; just sad.
The miners have received a 16% wage increase but this does not compensate for their hardships. They are human beings and do not have to be subjected to the suffering of the present. The sooner the people of the United States realize that within their very limits they have a class of people deserving the pity, sympathy, understanding, and mainly the help of all. Any person interested in establishing a condition of social equality should realize that he must exert the greatest effort toward aiding the class of people most needy of that aid. The coal miners of the nation and their families certainly fall in that class.

Monday, February 3, 2020

No, everything will not be okay!

 Image result for fall of rome

There are those who think that our troubles with Trump and the Senate will work itself out and everything will be okay.
Sorry, this is not true. Everything will not be okay.

It is not okay, it is not all right, for the following things to happen:

   It is not okay for a president to bribe a foreign nation.
   It is not okay to have a trial with any witnesses or evidence.
   It is not okay to pay Senators to vote your way.
   It is not okay to lie to the American public.
Recent events have revealed many disturbing truths. Bigotry, racism, xenophobia, ignorance and even stupidity are deeply rooted in America. It is not the majority that is this way, it's the active and committed. This is dangerous. This was at the root of the fall of Rome. In the book The Fire Before the Storm, Mike Duncan says:

"Through the centuries, Rome's model of cooperative and participatory government remained remarkably durable and unmatched in the history of the ancient world.
In 146 BC, Rome finally emerged as the strongest power in the Mediterranean. But the very success of the Republic proved to be its undoing. The republican system was unable to cope with the vast empire Rome now ruled: rising economic inequality disrupted traditional ways of life, endemic social and ethnic prejudice led to clashes over citizenship and voting rights, and rampant corruption and ruthless ambition sparked violent political clashes that cracked the once indestructible foundations of the Republic.
Chronicling the years 146-78 BC, The Storm Before the Storm dives headlong into the first generation to face this treacherous new political environment. Abandoning the ancient principles of their forbearers, men like Marius, Sulla, and the Gracchi brothers set dangerous new precedents that would start the Republic on the road to destruction and provide a stark warning about what can happen to a civilization that has lost its way."

Empires do not last forever. In fact, the duration of empires has decreased. The empires of the ancient world, Egypt, Persia, Rome, etc. lasted for several thousand years. Contrast that with Nazi Germany, Japan, the USSR. Dictators come and go quickly. Do not be under any illusion that the American Empire, and yes, we have one, will buck current trends.

Sitting on your ass and thinking it will all work out is delusional.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Why Trump "can" win

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For those of you who still watch real news, you'll notice that in many countries and places--Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Chile, Bolivia, etc.--you hear of citizens in the streets by the thousands protesting threats against civil rights.  Is there any news about Americans in the streets. No, nada, zip.

Americans no longer care. It's all about the show, not the substance. Is that a gross generalization? I hope so. But one thing is certain, those who you know will vote for Trump, will vote. Those who oppose him, may not.
--Trump supporters could care less about impeachment, especially since there's no chance the Senate will convict. They believe in the "witch hunt" scenario.
--They don't care about the Saudis. They have oil, good enough. And, since they don't really watch the news, one more dead journalist is no concern.
--They don't care or even believe in climate change science. To them, it's all about the weather today and not what evil climate changes cometh. In all likelihood, they don't understand the terminology so ignore it. For that matter, probably most science is beyond their understanding.
--Their total take on economics is "if I get a paycheck and can buy a beer and can go shoot something, life is good." Tarifs have no meaning and if Trump says China is paying them it must be true.
--Health care? Damned socialists.
--Education? "We don't need no education ...." And besides, education creates liberals.
--Pollution? Water doesn't taste any different. Skies still blue, sometimes, and who cares about bugs and birds?
--Immigrants? You've got to be kidding. They take our jobs and don't speak good english.

You see, it's about the antics, the show, the Archy Bunker factor. The guy swears and makes fun of people. He's just like us.

These people WILL vote.

If the Democrats do not vote Blue No Matter Who, Trump wins. If they don't vote Blue because the nominee doesn't promote all the things they want. Trump wins. If they don't have the most massive, biggest, best of all time voter turn out, TRUMP WINS.

Keep in mind, Trump, et al want a disruptive election. They want to claim voter tampering by "whoever" if the election is close so they can nullify it.

Trump can win. Polls will be purposely misleading (remember the Boris Johnson election). News will be skewed. Fake news and websites will be everywhere. Lies and deceit will be rampant. Intimidation and voter purges abundant. 

There are few protests in the US. Is this apathy? If so, we're in trouble.

There can be no rest until the "forces of tyranny" are clearly and overwhelmingly defeated. Otherwise, Trump WILL win.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Woe to you, GOP

 What might he say if He were here now?

Yes, some liberties have been taken. 

Image result for trump and senate supporters

-But woe unto you, hypocrites! for ye shut up the doors to a better life for the working person.

-Woe unto you,  hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make speeches that you care: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

-Woe unto you, hypocrites! for ye travel the sea and land to make converts from other dictators and allies of our enemies, and they are made, ye make them twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

-Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear under oath, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the Trump tower, he is a better!

-Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or those who have slaved to make the gold?

-And, Whosoever shall swear by that all that is just, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift moved secretly to your bank is holy.

-Woe unto you, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe to the banker, the broker, and the corporation, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done.

-Ye blind guides, which strain at the truth, and swallow the lies and propaganda from the Tower.

-Woe unto you hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup by hiding on secret drivers and accusing others of the sins you commit, but within you are full of extortion and excess.

-Thou blind Republican, cleanse first that which is within the cup that those you deceive may be cleaned also.

-Woe unto you hypocrites! for ye are like perfected sculptures, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

-You outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

- Woe unto you hypocrites! because ye build the towers for the rich and attend the rallies of the liars,

 -And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would probably shed their blood also. 

- Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

- Wherefore, behold, I send unto you those who tell the truth: and some of them ye shall kill and demonize, and some of them shall ye persecute them from city to city.

- Behold, your house in 2020 is left unto you desolate.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Why the Only Issue That Matters is Impeachment

Image result for dystopia
Image: https://signsofthetimes.org.au/2019/02/dystopian-future/

I listened to an NPR report in which numerous people interviewed stated that they were more concerned with issues like health care, education, wages, jobs, etc. than the impeachment of Donald Trump. This made me laugh and then sigh. Why don't those who aren't concerned with impeachment get the fact that all else revolves around the crimes, misdimeanors, negligence, and destructive actions of Trump?

The current administration has been on a quest, a Sherman's march, to gut public education, environmental protection, affordable health care, national public land treasures, voting rights, LGBQT rights, the rights of the disabled, worker rights, women's rights, programs to feed those in need,  the rights of asylum seekers, programs to support small scale farming, safe drinking water water protections, our relationsip with allies, treaties that prevent nuclear proliferation, the constitutional separation of powers and the right of oversight, to name a few. Nothing positive has been enacted, unless you consider billions of dollars in tax breaks for the rich to be positive. And, his plans for a second term, if, God forbid he actually gets that far, are too scary to even contemplate.

When someone says Congress should not waste time on impeachment it syas to me, We should not waste time protecting American democracy and the health and welfare of its our citizens. Instead, we should sit idly back while Trump inplements his distopian agenda for the rich and powerful while the masses just do what they're told and get whatever the rich decide they should get.

This is why impeachment is the only issue that matters.