After Destroying the Coal Industry, the Feds Just Handed WV Some Scraps

Brittany M. Hughes | June 8, 2016
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Once again, our generous federal government has uprooted a perfectly reliable, well-paying industry benefiting millions of people and replaced it with something about as useful as a soggy paper bag, all while expecting the helpless unwashed masses to grovel in praise and adoration at their charity.

After four years of outright war against the coal industry that supports some entire towns and states, President Obama and his environmental SWAT team have pretty much ensured that anyone who once enjoyed the benefits of a $80,000-a-year coal mining job is now fishing around in their couch cushions trying to scrounge up grocery money. Folks who used to dream of buying that retirement house on the beach or sending their kids to college have found themselves simply trying to keep the lights on in a house they’re barely hanging on to.

And that’s probably only because they can’t find anyone to buy it.

But amid the dust of skyrocketing unemployment numbers, collapsing economies and once-successful companies declaring bankruptcy faster than you can say “oh, crap,” enter the benevolent U.S. government.

From the State Journal

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded an additional $4.3 million National Dislocated Worker Grant to WorkForce West Virginia to help fund reemployment and training services to coal mine workers, as well as those employed by coal support industries, who have been laid off from their jobs.

The funding is a continuation of efforts that began in June 2012, when the DOL initially awarded $1.8 million to the state.

“Since then, the number of layoffs has grown as the demand for coal decreases,” DOL noted in a news release. As a result, West Virginia also received National Dislocated Worker Grant awards of $5.6 million in April 2014 and $3.2 million in September 2015.

The latest award, announced June 7, brings the total funding amount to more than $15 million.

While $15 million might sound like a lot, it’s actually peanuts compared to the amount of money thousands of coalmining jobs dump into West Virginia’s local and state economies. Last year alone, West Virginia experienced a whopping $353 million budget deficit directly attributable to the sudden decline in coal jobs, along with the state’s plummeting coal severance tax.

But thanks for that $15 million, guys.

Oh, but it gets even better. The article continues:

These grants allow eligible participants to receive $5,000 toward the cost of a retraining program. Participants can also qualify for a $20-per-day training allowance to cover the costs of things like transportation, childcare and food while they’re taking classes.

Look, if you can cover the costs of transportation, childcare and food with $20 a day, you’re either Jesus or you need to check your daycare’s reviews on Yelp. estimates it costs upwards of $37 a day to put one child in daycare. Gas is still about $2.30 a gallon.

And while cheap fast food is always an option if you absolutely have to cut corners, we’re pretty sure Michelle Obama wouldn’t approve.

And that formerly successful, middle-aged coal miner? He's got to figure out how to scrape by for 32 weeks before he completes that electrical engineering course at Southern West Virginia Community College. But we suppose he should be grateful for that $5,000 retraining stipend, considering the program's going to cost $5,255. At best, he'll probably wind up making about $60,000 a year, well below his former mining salary.

But whatever.

We're all for helping struggling coal miners in any way we can. But if the government wanted to further insult West Virginian coal communities, they might as well fly there and just slap everyone in the face. It’d save taxpayers $15 million in all-but-useless funding for people whose livelihoods have been pretty much ruined. We’re talking about families that previous survived on incomes of $25 to $35 an hour, with incomes that were suddenly ripped away by this president’s Hug-a-Tree campaign that cares more about sea snails than entire communities of human beings.

Leave it to the feds to steal your car, then expect you to be grateful when they toss you a twenty.