Class Warfare Blog

October 17, 2017

They Are All For Competition … Until

The conservatives in this country are all for market-based solutions and competition under a capitalistic regime … until … until it hurts their bottom line.

The “party line” is that competition is good because better businesses succeed and poorer business fail, thus improving the overall quality of business. (I wonder if Trump’s evangelical Christian base understands how Darwinian capitalism is? Hmm.) But when it comes to businesses some of the elite have stock in or receive “campaign contributions” from (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?), then it is all hands on deck to preserve the privileges of that business, or the business itself.

The coal industry has been in decline for a very long time. In the early 1900’s almost a million people had jobs mining coal. By the early 2000’s that was down to around 75,000 and recently some say down to closer to 55,000. In those early days the reductions in the numbers of jobs was due to mechanization. Coal didn’t need as many men wielding picks and shovels when they got steam power, then electrical power to their mines. More recently, the demand for coal has dropped. Its primary use has always been as a fuel to create motive power, e.g. steam railroad engines, or stationary power, e.g. electrical generation. Recently, the POTUS unveiled a plan to lower the regulations of coal mining to unleash the sleeping giant. At the same time, a Southwestern energy company decided to do through with their plans to mothball three coal-fired electricity generating plants. The reason? There was a bit of a glut in capacity, electricity being cheaper to produce in plants using natural gas as a fuel. Coal is being displaced by … wait for it … wait for it … another fossil fuel. (Oh the irony! Har de har har …)

Even if it could withstand the challenge of cheaper natural gas, renewables like solar and wind are waiting in the wings to deliver a knock out blow. The only coal being mined in the future will be to make chemical feedstocks (chemicals used to make other chemicals). Burning it to make energy (and CO2 that is causing Climate Change) will no longer be part of the picture. In addition as “smart grids” become implement to distribute electricity, the huge amount of electricity being lost/wasted will become available for use, and …

Dude, the coal party is over. But archbusinessman and President of the United States, Donald Trump, still things coal is being killed by excess governmental regulation. Donald Trump is also dumb as a post. This is capitalism baby, you are supposed to be fer it, not agin’ it. (Somebody please tell Trump.)

And, I cannot stop by this topic without noting that some of the store-bought politicians are claiming that solar power and wind power are only succeeding because of government tax breaks and purchaser tax credits … and they say this with a straight face! These are the same elites that made sure that the coal and oil industries got healthy protections from foreign competition and … wait for it … direct government subsidies. The oil subsidy (the tap is still open) is a century old and costs tax payers $8 billion dollars per year. Will someone tell those pols that the idea was to protect the industry in its infancy, not through to the old age home.

I wonder if the coal industry will continue to get their subsidies after they close their businesses. After all, the bribes they pay the politicians for continuing to vote them in have to come from somewhere.

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