We bailed out the auto industry. Great decision. Cars made in the U.S. are now built better to last longer. And, some “foreign” car companies actually are making their cars in the U.S.
So what’s the point, Vivian? We’ve seen what happens to communities when plants are closed and production is done in other countries. Our political commercials are giving us that message in a most boisterous manner.
On an intellectual level, many of us realize that the amount of cost effective, recoverable coal is finite, that anthracite coal burns more slowly, produces more heat, is less dangerous to the environment and is not the coal of eastern Kentucky.
We also know that those seeking alternative, and sometimes renewable sources of energy, are moving ahead, touting in their commercials that their ways are superior to coal, cleaner, less damaging to the environment.
In 1990, Harry Caudill, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and author of “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,” ended his life with a gunshot to his head.
Following the publication of “Night Comes to the Cumberland” in 1962, John F. Kennedy appointed a commission to investigate Appalachia, and $15 billion in aid came to the coalfields over a 25-year period. Imagine what that would be in today’s dollars.
As coal is being trashed in the media, employees are losing their job, miners are leaving their families to look for work elsewhere, homes are in foreclosure, vehicles are being repossessed, children are on free lunch programs, EPA is refusing to approve mining permits, a decline in coal severance taxes used to provide essential services in coal mining areas ties local officials’ hands as they struggle with budgets. It’s time for someone to sound the alarm as Caudill did in 1962.
It’s time to bring a group of committed legislators, miners, their spouses, mine owners/operators, publicists, and economists to the table to make intelligent decisions about what can be done to save the coal area and where the funding will come from. It’s time for collaboration and compromise, to look to the future.
Whatever the final plan looks like, it won’t be a continuation of what existed last year or 10 years ago.
Caudill’s forecast was that at one time the coal would be gone, the area would become a wildcat area, absent law enforcement and the families who call eastern Kentucky home. He envisioned the building of a huge dam with the flooding of the entire valleys nestled between the mountain ranges.
Surely we can do more than that. We owe it to the children of Appalachia; we owe it to the miners; we owe it to the families.
Now, if ever, is the time to lead, to step up and be counted, to find solutions, to save the area.
Who will come forward with organization skills, intellect, problem-solving abilities, and access to funds, to arrive at reasonable solutions and market them to the powers that are? We need powers that understand the lives and the hopes and dreams of those who love eastern Kentucky. We need men and women ready to come forward, putting their egos and desire to increase their status and wealth aside.
Don’t tell me it’s too hard, the politicians don’t care, that other areas need help and eastern Kentucky is always moved to the bottom of any list, that it will never happen.
Use that energy, that intellect, that mountain spirit to bring about positive change. We must dream it before we can see it and do what is necessary to make it real.