How to describe the horror visited on the families of the Montcoal miners? Appalachian miners are right up there with immigrant fruit pickers as expendable labor powers for vermin capitalists like Don Blankenship. When your bottom line is profit, and you have every motive to circumvent regulations, than “accidents” are bound to happen. Regulations are just so many obstacles to be overcome; the way it works now they may even help to make some mines more dangerous. Until you make the bottom line safety, safety will always come later. But that’s not the world we live in; profit rules the day. It is, after all, why we do business. My guess is that if the folks going into the mine were the folks making the decisions, safety would come first. Over the years one hundred thousand miners in this country have died in such disasters at the service of someone else’s capital accumulation. More than a few of them are in the Rustbelt’s family tree (among them my great grandfather killed in a Murray City, Ohio disaster in 1917). I grew up with stories of miners, cave-ins, unions and strikes. Years after my family left the mines when there was news of a disaster on the television, no matter where, my grandparents would always anxiously follow it like those affected were of their own. I find myself doing the same.
Dwight Yoakam, of Kentucky miners stock, doing Miner’s Prayer and Hazel Dickens of West Virginia doing Coal Miner’s Grave.