The Real Presidential “Delegation”

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Disclaimer: This isn’t a left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, democrat vs. republican debate. Just keep reading.

We all know the stereotype, the clueless boss who has no idea how to do a damn thing.  You go to them with a problem and they instantly point you in a different direction, bumbling along like you just hit them between the eyes with sledge hammer (stop visualizing it as much as you want it to happen and let’s get back to the point). Their lack of understanding of your job, and that of the people you work with, makes working for them a nightmare. Day after day you sit around wondering just how in the hell they get to be in such positions.

So how do they? One word—delegation.

Not in the sense of “a body of delegates or representatives,” but in the sense of delegating a task, i.e. “giving” the work to someone else to do.

In other words, if someone isn’t smart enough to do a job, but they know how to hire and exploit someone who does, they can still get the job done. The best part? If the person they delegate the job to does well, they get the credit for being a good “delegator.” If that person fails to do a good job, the boss can blame it on the underling and either reprimand or fire them. It is an acceptable safety valve for self-serving businessmen and women who are then only accountable for high turnover rates and/or missed deadlines.  This is what the corporate ladder is built upon and it is awash in blood from mid-management to Vice Presidents, CEOs, and now, the President of the United States.

All politics aside, what we are witnessing in the White House is a man who was born at the top of the corporate ladder and enjoys playing King of the Hill (no pun intended). He is not a good leader and cannot handle the role of president of these United States. Let’s face it, he was never elected based upon his credentials for doing an enormously important job—he won a popularity contest.

Watching the drama at the White House, it’s not difficult to see Trump as a clueless boss who believes he can get the job done if he simply selects and commands the right people to do his job for him. What is scary is that unlike a business where the most damage he could do is send it into bankruptcy and sail out with a golden parachute, he is instead toying with an entire nation that also happens to be a world power. Incompetence at this level comes at the cost of millions of people’s well-being.

It’s important to note that not all delegators are complete jerks. There are many who delegate jobs and tasks knowing and appreciating the people who work with them. They realize their shortcomings and strive to learn more about each job they don’t know how to do.  They listen and appreciate, they forgive and support, and they are always putting other people ahead of themselves. They work to be effective leaders, not just bosses, and they earn the respect of everyone they work with. Unfortunately, in a culture built upon an economy that rewards competition and better quarterly statements, these leaders are few and far between.

You are now entering free-market capitalism, please check your conscience at the gate.

Today, more than ever, we need a benevolent leader, not a self-absorbed, power craving, wealthy business mogul. We need to stand up as a nation—as his boss—and scream in unison, “YOU’RE FIRED!!!!!”

Maintenance, safety, and the drive for production

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I just read an article about Daniel L. Couch Jr., a mine maintenance chief who pleaded guilty to falsifying safety documents. Before people go throwing him under the bus, it’s important to understand a few things about mine maintenance, safety, and the push for production.

Certified mine electricians don’t just repair electrical equipment and perform maintenance, they are also required to inspect electrical equipment to ensure operational safety, electrical safety, and permissibility (the ability to operate in a methane-air mixture without igniting said methane and causing an explosion). It Continue reading

Against Our Own Best Interest: Why Working People Shouldn’t Elect Businessmen Into Office

 

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Donald J. Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

In my experiences, I’ve run across many people who believe business executives are a good choice to be our lawmakers. Many of these same people also complain about the poor treatment of employees and off-shoring of manufacturing jobs, decisions that are often made by business executives.  So why exactly do people elect them into public office?

After getting into a variety of debates, I’ve found many people’s logic can be summed up in this statement, “Business leaders are smart people and hard workers who know how to make the right decisions to build companies from the ground up. They are good employers and will use their expertise to fix our government and provide more and better jobs.” If these were the businessmen and women that actually made it into office, I might consider the notion, but this is rarely the case.

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Searching for Justice in Appalachia: Part II

Big Rock, VA Photo byNick Mullins

In my original post, I skirted along the edges of some personal beliefs that I often spare my readership, beliefs that I must admit, cause me to doubt myself and this work. As I mentioned in my first post, one of the downsides to being a justice advocate is realizing just how bleak the situation can be. I get up every morning, wondering if we can ever truly achieve justice.

Just to recap, coal companies have billions in assets, lawyers on retainer, political campaign contributions, and they own the majority of our resources in Appalachia. Coal companies use the money they make from our resources to hire marketing firms, pay for advertising time on TV networks, and print thousands upon thousands of Friends of Coal stickers to convince us they are benefiting our communities. For many of us, it’s a struggle just to pay our bills and buy food, let alone stand up against it. Continue reading

The Love of a Coal Mining Father

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Like many fathers living in central Appalachia, my dad didn’t have a lot of choices after he graduated high school. He couldn’t bare the thought of leaving his mountain home and all the family and places he’d always known. So he did what he could, going to work in the mines—risking his life and sacrificing his health to provide for his family.

There were times he loved his job, especially when he was working with a good crew in one of the safer union mines. But when the companies shut down all their union operations, he sacrificed more than he ever should have had to. After the South Mountain disaster that happened just down the road from where he was working, there were many nights I’d lay awake, waiting to hear his truck come up the driveway, worried he’d not come home again.

Today, I’d give anything for him to have his health back. I’d give anything for him to be able to take his grand-kids on long hikes in the woods, to take them squirrel hunting, or across the ridge to find morels in the spring.

The people who made their money off the coal our dad’s mined, didn’t deserve to take the best part of their lives and health.

Here’s to all the coal mining fathers out there, to your strength and kindness, to your love and sacrifices. I hope that one day no father will have to give up so much just to earn a decent living for their families.

Will supporting carbon capture help coal mining communities?

John E. Amos Power Plant

John E. Amos Power Plant – Photo by Nick Mullins

I just read an article stating the National Resource Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force, two well known, well funded environmental organizations, are now showing support for carbon capture technology at coal fired power plants.

My question is, how will this help a just transition for Appalachia and other areas impacted by coal mining?

Let’s recap the coal industry’s impacts on their employees and local communities:

  • Billions of dollars of coal have left coal mining communities throughout the nation and those communities continue to be among the most economically depressed, unhealthiest, most disadvantaged areas in the nation.
  • Coal companies continuously seek ways to eliminate their debts to coal miners and their families by terminating retirement benefits including healthcare.
  • Coal companies spend money appealing black lung benefits awarded to coal miners.
  • Coal companies also get out of cleaning up the messes they leave behind, including acidic mine drainage, coal slurry impoundments, land subsidence, and terrible surface mine reclamation jobs.

In summation, aside from creating a handful of jobs that take away our long term health, the coal industry is a plague.

Supporting carbon capture gives lease to the coal industry so they may continue their operations. It is a poor solution to treating a symptom rather than addressing the source of our problems—excessive energy use. Why is it so difficult to implement and support behavior based energy efficiency education, and to invest in energy efficiency technology that could provide thousands of jobs?

Coal Miners Deserve Better

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(Photo by William F. Campbell/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

In 1989, Pittston Coal (present day Alpha Natural Resources), eliminated the healthcare benefits of all it’s pensioners. This included retirees, disabled miners, and widows. It led to the last major UMWA strike centered in southwestern Virginia, just across the mountain from Eastern Kentucky. 1,400 miners walked off the job, sacrificing their paychecks to restore those benefits to men and women whose lives were given to coal mining.

The old cliche “As much as things change, they stay the same” couldn’t be truer this day in time.

Not only has the coal industry taken away the health benefits for pensioners again, thousands of miners who retired from union mines are facing the possibility of losing their health benefits and pensions. The reasons are many, and there are a lot of fingers being pointed right now. Some want to blame the United Mine Workers for poor fund management, others want to blame the coal companies for busting the unions and eliminating future income into those plans, and a few (including myself) are casting some blame towards the for-profit healthcare industry that’s gone overboard with unnecessary tests and hospital stays to increase their financial gain. In my opinion, it’s all of it, but in the end it doesn’t matter who is to blame. Everyone who has screwed this up has more money than any coal miner will ever see in their lifetime. Why should the coal miners be the ones to suffer the results?

The burden of fixing these problems now falls on the nation who has benefited from the cheap energy and steel that Appalachia has produced. It rests with people waking up to the facts and realizing that coal companies will continually work through corrupt politics to get out of their obligations to their workers.

People deserve better than what the coal companies will ever give them, they deserve some comfort and rest after pulling their time in the mines. Every coal miner should walk off the job tomorrow and not let another ounce of coal make it to market until our fathers and grandfathers are taken care of, until every miner from here on out has guaranteed healthcare, pensions, the right to stop work if things become unsafe, and the guarantee of a healthy severance package the next time a coal company pulls up stakes to save their own wealthy hind-ends.

Actually, everyone in this nation should be raising hell with their politicians. This latest chapter of screwing some of America’s hardest working people should send shock waves through the national consciousness and have everyone up in arms, or at least looking at the voting records of their politicians and jerking the ones out who don’t actually support the working people. Last I checked, there’s way more working people suffering than rich folks. People should be standing up for what’s right and just when it comes to labor and worker safety. Politicians are supposed to serve all the people, not just the ones who line their pockets.

TCM is now on YouTube

I started this blog some 6 years ago and it has gotten a decent amount of attention, but it still hasn’t reached the audience I’ve been hoping to speak to. In the last few months I’ve put a lot more effort into getting the message I’ve been preaching on this blog out to a larger audience. I’ve written an op-ed or two, an article, and rode the wave of media attention surrounding Trump, coal, and Appalachia, doing a few interviews with national media or directing them to other resources in the region. And of course working a bit in film and visual media.

I’ve spent the last month especially  starting a YouTube channel which I’m pleased to announce here on the blog today. Content is still a little slow coming, but stay tuned for weekly updates as I try to cover many of the topics I’ve covered here on the blog.

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Click HERE to go to the channel.

 

 

 

Trump Isn’t Creating Coal Jobs, He’s Helping the Industry Make More Money

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Before coal miners rejoice the end of “Obama’s War on Coal,” they should realize the war on their jobs isn’t over—that war began well before Barack Obama took the oath of office.

Amid the name-calling, political propaganda, and willful ignorance that came as a result of coal industry’s “War on Coal” campaign, many Appalachian miners forgot a very important fact—their jobs have always been considered overhead on the company’s quarterly statements. Their job, like any other overhead such as the cost of supplies, fuel, equipment etc., is a drain on the company’s overall profit. Within our system of capitalism and free-market economics, businesses must continually seek to reduce expenses (overhead) so they can increase their quarterly returns, satisfy their stockholders, and compete with other companies on a global scale.

As Bruce Stanley stated in the new documentary film Blood on the Mountain, “Coal doesn’t want you to have a job because coal does better if you don’t have a job. That’s benefits that don’t have to be paid, that’s salaries that don’t have to be paid, that’s so when you’re broken and busted you don’t have to be cared for.”

If anything, Trump’s administration is paving the way to reducing mining jobs in Appalachia by opening the floodgates on surface mining, a highly productive form of mining that requires fewer miners who can be paid lower wages. If a coal company can make a higher profit by surface mining, why would they be inclined to open and operate as many underground mines?

The high wall miner featured in this video effectively replaces the need for many underground mines and larger surface mines. It only requires four employees to operate per shift.

All of these new policies have not been a win for coal miners, they’ve been another win for coal companies.

Their Final Hours: Ten Years After the Sago Mine Disaster

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On this day ten years ago, thirteen men were still trapped following the explosion that rocked their mine over 28 hour before. Rescue efforts were in a state of disarray. The company, and many politicians, were busy doing damage control in front of the press to preserve their image.

But the men, those men who just went to work one morning to earn a living for their families, were facing the knowledge that they may never see their loved ones again. Being Appalachian family men, there is little doubt that their final moments of anguish—their final moments of fearwere not for their own souls, but for their families and the suffering they would endure in their absence.
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