The big Glenn Beck story right now concerns Beck's decision, on his radio show, to compare the campers who were massacre victims in Norway to Hitler Youth (because, see, their camp had a political orientation -- never mind the fact that an organization in Florida formed as a part of Beck's own 912 movement organized a political camp of its own this summer).
Well, I've got another Beck story -- not as inflammatory, but indicative of where this country is headed. As I type this, the lead story at Beck's Blaze site is this:
'RIGHT OUT OF ATLAS SHRUGGED': HEAR AN EXASPERATED ALABAMA BUSINESSMAN TELL THE FEDS -- 'I'M JUST QUITTING'
Ronnie Bryant was vastly outnumbered.
Leaning against a wall during a recent Birmingham, Alabama, public hearing, Bryant listened to an overflow crowd pepper federal officials with concerns about businesses polluting the drinking water and causing cases of cancer.
After two hours, Bryant -- a coal mine owner from Jasper -- had heard enough and, in a moment being described as "right out of Atlas Shrugged," took his turn at the microphone:
"Nearly every day without fail...men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can't pay their mortgage. They can't pay their car note. They can't feed their families. They don't have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just...you know...what's the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What's the use? I see these guys -- I see them with tears in their eyes -- looking for work. And if there's so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there's no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So...basically what I've decided is not to open the mine. I'm just quitting. Thank you."
The bizarre thing here is that Beck and the people who run his site aren't even bothering to conceal what the crowd at that meeting was protesting about. Go to the "public hearing" link above and you read this:
Top officials from the Justice Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the local U.S. Attorney's Office were in Birmingham today to hear from residents of communities affect by pollution....
An overflow crowd packed the East Ensley branch of the Birmingham Public Library. Many of those attending urged officials to take action on a number of fronts. Those included cleaning up chemical contamination in Collegeville; scrutinizing closely coal mining along the Warrior River; and strictly overseeing state environmental agencies.
Check out that "chemical contamination in Collegeville" link and you get this:
Toxic substances found in soil of almost-new Birmingham school
Sameria Muhammad sits on her father's front porch in Collegeville, watches plumes of smoke from a nearby factory and shakes her head in disgust.
"I have four kids, and all four of them have to have breathing treatments every day," the 23-year-old says. "Every time I go to the doctor, they tell me they have bronchial problems."
Six weeks ago, Muhammad learned that toxic substances had been found in the soil at the almost-new Hudson K-8 School, which her oldest daughter will begin attending in a year, and on dozens of surrounding properties. Now, she wonders why Birmingham school officials didn't do their homework before building the school in 2009.
"Why didn't they do some tests first?" she asks....
So let's review: This mother and people like her are the villains of Beck's piece. A coal mine operator who thinks environmental regulations are too strict already is the hero.
That mine operator, Ronnie Bryant, elaborates on his argument:
Bryant pointed to less stringent environmental regulations in countries such as China, saying that the U.S. is falling behind even though it has abundant resources. "But you can't get to them," he said, adding that while there are concerns over dwindling wildlife populations, "people are becoming the endangered species."
In 2010, the rate of deaths in Chinese coal mines was more than six per day. And let's not even talk about China's degraded environment. Is that Ronnie Bryant's idea of how America should operate? Is it Beck's?
This story is all over the right-o-sphere. Bryant is a new wingnut folk hero.
And, really, this is what the wingnuts want: they want us so desperate for work that mothers whose children's schools are contaminated by environmental toxins are deemed the enemy, and business owners can do whatever they want to us, as long as they deign to give us jobs.