This morning, I was enjoying my coffee and watching one of my favorite TV shows on the Discovery Science Channel: “How It’s Made.”
One of the episodes was about refurbishing a huge machine. It was big as a bus, with all kinds of hydraulics, electronics, and huge moving parts.
According to the narrator, it had taken several months to overhaul this massive machine. This piece of equipment was a “continuous miner.” This machine is used to mine underground and only needs to be operated by one man. It's used to mine coal.
At that moment, I thought about all those coal mining jobs lost to automation. Then I was angry all over again about the false promises Trump made that those coal jobs would return.
Those jobs did not return. They will not return. Automation is taking those jobs and many more. Coal has been a dying industry for decades, and the entire coal industry has less jobs than Whole Foods has employees, to give you some perspective.
It’s a cruel joke to pretend to coal miners that they don’t need to do anything but vote Republican and the good paychecks their parents and grandparents made (thanks to the tireless work of unions to get them fair pay for dangerous work) will continue to provide for them today, or even next year.
This same phenomenon holds true here in the 8th district with the death of the factory jobs that have moved overseas because CEOs wanted to cash in on selling out America. I’m sure y’all remember the golden parachutes at Pillowtex that gave soft landings to their executives but left the rest of their employees’ families here nothing but the hard reality of being outsourced.
We can’t just sit around and play pretend when people’s livelihoods are at stake. The old platitudes about bootstraps are meaningless when you have a mortgage to make and you need a living wage job to make it.
What can we do to create jobs? Not just McJobs that pay wages nobody can realistically live on, but living wage jobs a person can raise a family on?
One thing that seems pretty obvious to me: We need to re-train our work force. Let’s provide greater incentives and grants to business to hire and *retrain* workers to prepare for 21st century jobs. There is a much bigger future for clean energy jobs in solar, wind, and micro-hydroelectric power generation. Also, absurd Trump lies about “windmill cancer” to the contrary aside, these clean energy jobs won’t give the workers black lung disease like coal mining jobs do.
However, businesses can't create those jobs when 25 to 30٪ tariffs are applied. Many clean energy projects in #NC were either scaled back or put on indefinite hold when Trump announced this latest arbitrary blow to rig the markets in favor of the craven coal barons writing him checks.
Where was our current Representative? Nowhere, silent as usual that #workingclass jobs were affected in this district he doesn’t even live in.
Moving away from fossil fuel coal jobs to clean energy jobs is great for the environment & planet. Plus, it ensures we have a viable future to leave to our children.
We can’t afford to prop up dying, toxic industries by screwing the future. Fossil fuels are a 19th century solution to 21st century problems and we can’t remain competitive with our global rivals by insisting on remaining 200 years behind the times.
Let’s embrace the future with open arms and open eyes.
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