Wednesday, November 01, 2017


In Pennsylvania coal country, the unemployed really believe coal is coming back, and they're hurting themselves, Reuters reports:
When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing.

He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course.

"I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner....

"I have a lot of faith in President Trump," Sylvester said....

Although there have been small gains in coal output and hiring this year, driven by foreign demand, production levels remain near lows hit in 1978.

Despite broad consensus about coal's bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget....

In Greene and Washington counties, 120 people have signed up for jobs retraining outside the mines, far short of the target of 700, said Ami Gatts, director of the Washington-Greene County Job Training Agency. In Westmoreland and Fayette counties, participation in federal job retraining programs has been about 15 percent of capacity, officials said.

"I can't even get them to show up for free food I set up in the office," said Dave Serock, an ex-miner who recruits in Fayette County for Southwest Training Services....

One $1.4 million ... project to teach laid-off miners in Greene County and in West Virginia computer coding has signed up only 20 people for 95 slots. Not a single worker has enrolled in another program launched this summer to prepare ex-miners to work in the natural gas sector, officials said.
We're told that this isn't happening everywhere -- in West Virginia and Kentucky, there's less self-delusion about the future of coal. But there's a slight uptick in coal mining in Pennsylvania, and now President Trump has people there believing that the industry will come all the way back. But the few new coal jobs aren't even good ones -- they pay about $13 an hour. And yet people are falling for the con.

At least Trump University was the product of pure greed. That's understandable. But all Trump got out of this was the ego boost of being elected president. Sure, he's working all the emoluments angles, and maybe his plan was to make a lot of money in return for favors to Russia, but, so far, becoming Leader of the Free World hasn't been all that lucrative for Trump, as grifts go.

Trump used to be a common crook. Now he's cheating people largely for personal psychic gratification. But I think he's such a bone-deep con artist that he can't not lie to people. It's nothing to him, but it has real consequences for them.

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