You know how Republicans love to wax rhapsodic about the so-called “free market” (I say “so-called” because I defy anyone to point to a true example of a “free market,” without any distortions due to subsidies, unaccounted-for externalities, etc., outside an economics text book). And you know how they love to bash Democrats for the relatively miniscule subsidies that to to clean energy as compared to highly profitable, highly-subsidized fossil fuels? Now all that would be bad enough on its own, but add in utter hypocrisy, and it’s truly retch-inducing.
For example, I just received word that supposed “free-market” true believer Bob McDonnell is bragging about pouring more of your tax dollars into his favored industries:
Standing in front of huge pieces of mining equipment built by Joy Mining Machinery along with members of the General Assembly, coal industry representatives, Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed legislation today that supports Virginia’s coal industry by promoting tax credits for coal industry jobs in southwest Virginia, and making mining safer by requiring submission of mining maps and directional changes by companies extracting coal and natural gas in close proximity.
“Coal and natural gas development supports more than 57,000 Virginia jobs,” Governor McDonnell said. “This is why we worked with the General Assembly to support safe and efficient mining operations…and will spur the creation of more good-paying jobs in southwest Virginia directly related to mining, and also indirectly supported by mining operations such as those here at the Joy Mining Company.”
Of course, it’s no wonder McDonnell loves fossil fuels so much: according to VPAP, he’s received $3.4 million over the years from the energy and natural resources sector, including $1.6 million from “coal mining/processing,” $713,569 from (mostly coal-fired) electric utilities, and $234,689 from natural gas. In other words, it’s no shocker that McDonnell’s returning the favor by showering his preferred industries – the dirtiest and most damaging to human health and well being, the environment, etc. – with Virginia tax dollars. That’s the “free market” at work right there, don’t ya know? Heh.
By the way, with regard to McDonnell’s jobs claim, notice how he slickly he adds natural gas on top of coal, to pad the numbers of jobs coal is responsible for? Then, notice how McDonnell cleverly throws in the word “supports,” indicating that these are NOT all – or even mostly – direct coal and natural gas jobs? Oh, and notice how even then, McDonnell can only come up with “57,000 Virginia jobs,” far less than 1% the population of Virginia (8 million last I checked). Finally, did you see how McDonnell completely ignored the real numbers, that “coal mining jobs amount to only about 2 percent of employment in the central Appalachian region, and that there are actually just over 5,000 coal mining jobs in Virginia (less than 0.1% the state’s population)?
Given all this, why does self-professed free-market champion Bob McDonnell believe that the century-old coal industry, a “mature” and profitable industry any way you look at it (although mostly to the coal companies, not so much to the workers), needs continued taxpayer-funded corporate welfare? Simple: follow the money!
P.S. McDonnell also ignores research proving conclusively that “mountaintop removal mining’s economic cost to Appalachian communities totaled roughly $42 billion per year in lost health and lives,” that “Appalachian counties with the heaviest concentration of coal mining have the worst unemployment and the worst economic conditions in the region,” and that “the full ‘lifecycle cost’ of coal to the U.S. public is actually upwards of $500 billion a year.” I know, details details. 😉