21 July 2013

"George Zimmerman & Trayvon Martin" Rides Again: Looking for My Fair Share of the Sympathy & Grief; And How to Talk So Loud It Looks Like I’m Useful

Good God Almighty, the American press is shaking the Zimmerman/Martin story like a puppy shaking a stuffed animal that lost its stuffing.

Consider this an addendum to the post of 19 July 2013. If you haven’t read it yet, scroll down. I don’t mind waiting.

Okay, are we good go?

The Confuse-igentsia continues to pelt us with sincere yet utterly silly shit.

For the first entrant in the Head-Scratcher-of-the-Day, I ran into this in Bill O'Reilly’s  weekly Sunday newspaper column:

“I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to confront somebody who was doing something wrong in my presence. But I simply can’t. There are legions of sleazy lawyers lined up to attack the affluent in court.”

Okay, hell, Bill, take a few shots at lawyers, this is a free country and I revere that ‘ol First Amendment. But I certainly hope that the fear of getting sued is not what controls your impulse to avoid confrontations with people.

Confrontations, by their nature, are dangerous. Sometimes they’re only a little tiny bit dangerous. Sometimes they are big, bad and hairy dangerous. This is not to say that you should never get into a confrontation. Sometimes, it is necessary, and a moral imperative. But there are far more confrontations in the society than there are necessary confrontations and the real trick is telling the difference.

What marks the Zimmerman/Martin confrontation as unnecessary was the fact that one of the participants (Zimmerman) identified a potential danger several minutes in advance of the confrontation, was carrying the means to make that confrontation lethal (a pistol) and yet continued to seek out the confrontation.

The result? A dead kid.

There have been confrontations with 17-year-olds that ended in their death which were unavoidable. This wasn’t one of them.

O’Reilly’s attitude that he’s not willing to confront anyone because he’s afraid of getting sued is just a variation on the same theme which disconnects citizens from any responsibility for the state of our society. To paraphrase my friend Justice Richard Neely, people are too lazy, too scared and too stupid to confront crime and violence.

Incidentally, from reading lots of other stuff written by O’Reilly, I doubt that this quote in his column today was more than a little popping off.   I sincerely doubt that it represents an absence of los huevos for entering into the fray.

In the wave of massive rallies held on Saturday (and I’m not sure if that is irony or sarcasm) one common theme was the demand to the United States Department of Justice that they bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman. The mouth-in-gear-before-brain-engages voice of my current political party, the Rev. Al Sharpton, made the high-minded plea:

“We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,” Sharpton said.

What a load of bullshit.

Rev. Al, if you think changing the law is going to make sure “that this never, ever happens again,” you’re out of your ecclesiastical mind. For approximately the entire history of Homo sapiens, the members of this species have been beating, clubbing, stabbing and shooting one another with various projectiles. Various informal and formal legal codes have been in effect for at least the last 2000 years and, if anything, the beating, clubbing, etc., has picked up.

But I think I do understand there is an underlying message we're getting from the Rev. and from lots of other folks – we don’t have the intelligence, the time or a long enough attention span to look at why there is so much violence around the world and why the methods of violence and levels of violence differ. So we declare that something is The Truth, try to change a law to comport with The Truth, and then go home secure in the little fantasy world that we’ve done something useful. There we will stay for a couple of weeks until we have a new epiphany about some New Truth.

Al, Jesus said to turn the other cheek, not to be stupid about it.

And a third class of indulgence being fed by the Zimmerman/Martin frenzy is a desire for a piece of the rock, wanting to feel that the pain and grief of a deceased's family is somehow personable to me, me, me, and I’ve personally been hurt and I personally deserve some sort of compensation or sympathy or attention, attention, attention because it’s personal to ME and now my opinions are worth more.

There are lots of examples of that. One is Rapper MC Lyte.   At one of the rallies, he remarked:
“When the verdict was read, I felt like we lost Trayvon Martin again.”

What is this “we” shit?  Did you know the guy before you read about him on the news?  (Sorry, heard about him on the news.)  Don’t you think there’s a little secondary gain going on if you are spreading your sincere sadness into a microphone?  

Oh, we all like to invest in grief.   It pays dividends a lot sooner than Bank of America. How often do you see on Facebook a post that goes something like “My best friend Joe’s mother died, and I’m just so upset about it.” To which replies roll in, “Oh, you poor dear, we are so sorry for your loss!”

How’s that again? In the overall sense, maybe Joe’s mom should be at the top of our concern list. If you’re looking strictly corporeally, let’s see what we can do for Joe. Why am I reminded of people who think they can get relief by telephone from the California Psychic Hotline?

I do not appreciate rap music.   Nor do I understand it.  There is an almost unvarying formula that when you react to something a rapper says, you go find his/her lyrics and point out that they are full of lots and lots of violent and antisocial stuff.  And they make liberal use of “the F Word.”

Oh, no they don’t, they just say “fuck” a lot.

Okay, I looked up MC Lyte, and he certainly provides a lot of snorting soundbites. On the whole, however, if I’m reading the free verse correctly, his stuff is way on the mild side so I’m not going to cherry pick the really bad stuff to try to make him out to be some sort of bad person.

He’s just another illogical person rolling in a very common human indulgence.

So what to do?

I have long been a friend  and supporter of Sen. Manchin.  (No, I don’t plan to attend any functions hosted by Mayor Bloomberg for the Senator. I’m sure the Mayor's family loves him, that’s about all I’m going to say about the guy.)

At least six months ago, Sen. Manchin proposed responding to the concerns of gun violence with a no-holds-barred examination of violence in America, a “National Commission on Violence.”  He reasoned, correctly, that looking at only the instruments of some violence won’t do a whole lot of good. That proposal seems to have dropped into the black hole of Washington, possibly because it lacks whine-potential and sex, and the results may not be consistent with all of our dearly held preconceptions.

So let me say that it’s time to move off of Zimmerman/Martin. The case is over. Continuing that particular discussion is waving the bloody shirt and crass political opportunism.  It is time to move to an honest discussion of everything that seems to be causing violence in America.

I would start with the only obvious conclusion: We could be doing a better job for each other.

19 July 2013

George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, and All the Lonely People Looking for Some Lady Named “Justice”

There are a few lessons to be drawn from the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case in Florida, but not nearly so many as every wandering mind in America seems to think.

“Hard cases make bad law” is a legal maxim which dates back to 1842. It is as true today as it was then. Cases with a great deal of publicity, strident opinion, and generous misrepresentation of facts give people with no stake in the case a vehicle to push irrelevant social or political agendas.  They do it by warping the law so that the next poor bastard who has an ordinary case gets the shaft.

So to every person who says that the not guilty verdict in Florida proves that:

(a) There is Justice in America, and I knew all along that he was innocent,


(b) There is No Justice in America and everybody knows that he is guilty, guilty, guilty,

I have an epiphany for you.

Just for you.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

You are the product of the bad educational system, you are overly suggestible or you are just damn dumb.

This shooting is one entry on the ledger, one piece of violence among lots and lots and lots of pieces of violence which we have ignored while we have been looking down a tunnel at this one.

In this particular case, a jury heard all the legal evidence in a case which was well-controlled by a judge who was not hunting headlines. The jury applied the law to facts. They were the only people who had the power to determine the facts.  I have no idea how I would have voted had I been on that jury. I wasn’t there. I didn’t hear the evidence.

A couple of people who I pray perceive my epiphany (see above) are Al Sharpton and Michael Moore. Mind you, I really like Michael Moore. The last political rally I attended was one of his, and it was really kickin’.  

They are sponsoring “Justice for Trayvon” rallies all across America. One goal is to urge the United States Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for a civil rights violation and thereby get, well, “justice for Trayvon.”

Sorry, guys, you’re not going to get “justice for Trayvon.” Since Cain whacked Abel, no homicide victim has ever received justice. They are dead. Maybe their family will get something in the way of restitution or compensation, but don’t count on it, and if they do, even that is not “justice.” The deceased is still deceased. In my belief system, they get eternal justice no matter what, but you, me, the Department of Justice, Al Sharpton and Walt Disney have nothing to do with it.

Here’s another bit of news:  Dealing with people charged or convicted of crimes is a very pragmatic affair. Seldom do police or prosecutors become wounded by the lack of justice and now seek to restore the cosmic balance. Rather, we want to undo the harm to the extent we can, provide a negative consequence to deter people from committing crimes in the future and put the really bad people somewhere that the population upon which they can commit crimes is limited to other really bad people.

But justice? Nobody knows how.

So rally on!  The First Amendment, sacred in my heart, says that you can.  But don’t be dumb about it.  Rally for “We need to do XYZ differently.” Don’t pretend you’re doing justice.

Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” statute was not invoked in this case. It was tried as a straight self-defense case. I’m sure that there are four people down in Florida are bothered all to hell that Stevie Wonder won’t appear there until they change their statute.

Well, I won’t go to New York until they change a whole bunch of theirs. So there. 

Does anybody care? Didn’t think so.

Why, you may wonder, is the Second Amendment community  NOT praising Zimmerman for successfully “defending himself.” That one is easy to answer: It’s because gun people know that Zimmerman is an idiot.  He was a desperado wannabe, the kind of pistolero who who gets a stiffie when he watches Tombstone.

This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the self-defense, but it does have a lot to do with the responsibility which goes hand-in-hand with the right of a citizen to carry arms. Just as the Second Amendment recognizes a pre-existing right to self-defense and right to arm oneself for self-defense, so does it incorporate the solemn responsibility to avoid unnecessary conflict. And any conflict which you can avoid with a net reduction in harm to people should be avoided.

Several minutes before the shooting, Zimmerman called 911 and reported Martin as a possibly dangerous person worthy of attention by the police. Maybe he was right and maybe he was wrong, that doesn’t matter for what he did next. Oh, it also doesn’t matter that the dispatcher told him to stay away.  If a person carries a firearm, they should not have to be told to avoid a confrontation.

Zimmerman had perceived Martin as a threat. Therefore, there was a potential for conflict. As long as Zimmerman had a firearm, any conflict in which he engaged could be a lethal event. Absent an unavoidable threat to life, permitting that conflict to occur  was reprehensible and inexcusable.  It may not have been illegal, but it still was WRONG.

Simply put, Zimmerman is not a person who can be trusted with a firearm. He has proved that he is a dangerous idiot.

This nation keeps breaking Rule Number One:   “Keep your eye on the ball.” 

“The Ball” here is the amount of violence in society.  It is the ever-increasing prison population and the influence of drugs.  And it is the cowardice and laziness which keep citizens from dealing with any of that. It is so much easier to watch MSNBC or CNN or FoxNews and enjoy your flavor of indignation.  Then, you can pretend that you’re doing something useful without ever leaving home.  

No, prancing around singing songs and slinging signs are not “useful.”

Wow, we are gullible.

14 July 2013

Flying the 777 and Truck Driving: When Computers Go Bad

The NTSB has issued some preliminary information on the cause Asiana Boeing 777 crash at San Francisco international Airport.

The flight recorder shows that the aircraft speed was 30+ knots too slow for landing. Audible alarms and the “stick shaker” warned the pilots that the aircraft was about to stall. Presumably, they increased engine power, but it was too late.

The NTSB reports that the engine throttles were under computer control for landing. 

The International Airline pilots Association has decried the release of any information concerning causation. Release of the information so far really doesn’t bother me. Investigations of airline crashes are notoriously thorough.  If a cause other than or in addition to low speed is established, we will know in good time.

Of course, somebody will be filing suit soon. Such quick trigger pulls are among the worst things that lawyers do.

Some pilots have observed that a pilot in charge of an aircraft is responsible for the little things like making sure the aircraft is going fast enough to keep flying.

Well, I’m not a pilot.  Other than wondering about the obvious, I’m not entitled to an opinion about causation.

Perhaps, however, we can look at this as an extreme example of a technological problem which is becoming more prevalent. As technology, particularly computer control, is taking the place of human decision-making and input, human experience is reduced and human skill has deteriorated. If computers land aircraft, humans have less opportunities to do so and probably won’t be as good at it.

We wouldn’t have technology if weren’t advantageous. But at some point, this phenomenon of skill reduction becomes so pronounced that now and then we should be questioning our reliance on technology.

The first time the problem obviously reared its head was when automatic transmissions were becoming the norm on trucks. Simple Newtonian physics teaches us about the behavior of masses in motion.  A mass at rest takes power to get into motion. A mass in motion tends to stay in motion. Therefore, a heavy truck should be handled with some care and skill. If it gets away from you, this moving mass can cause a lot of damage. 

I had very little experience with a manual transmission until I went to work at the Boy Scout camp when I was 18. One day I was sent to town to the hardware store in the camp truck. It was a 1963 Dodge stake bed with a column shifter.  Town was 10 miles away and down off a big ridge. It was a sink or swim kind of situation. I swam.

In the 1960s, fewer and fewer automobiles were made with manual shifters. So fewer and fewer kids learned to drive manuals.  In the 1970s, fire departments noticed that younger firefighters had trouble driving fire engines, almost all of which had manual transmissions. It got to the point that they were destroying clutches and transmissions. So more and more departments ordered automatics.  It became harder and harder to find an engine, a ladder truck, tanker or rescue truck with manual shift.  Now, they all are automatics.

The problem is this: People who can drive a standard transmission are better truck drivers. They have a practical understanding of how power is applied to pick up the load and get a mass in motion and how energy has to be dissipated in some manner to bring the mass back to rest. In my opinion, somebody who cannot drive a manual transmission has no business at the wheel of a 30 ton ladder truck.

The first rescue truck I learned to drive had four manual speeds and two ranges. You had to understand it to drive it. (Off the subject: Whoever installed the air horn put the button in an odd place, so third-gear-high-range meant the air horn blew.) That truck was replaced with a single-range-five-speed manual. From then on, it has been automatics.

Cruise control is another example. Cruise is good for avoiding tickets by not creeping over in an acceptable speed.  It promotes fuel economy by reducing needless acceleration and braking.  On the other hand, it separates the driver from throttle inputs, separating him/her from involvement in the driving. The driver is less attentive and therefore less skillful.  An automobile at 70 mph has lots of  inertia.  If something bad happens, it happens fast and has a potential of bad effects.

The list goes on. Children today often cannot write cursive because they depend on keyboards. If somebody depends on a keyboard, he/she cannot use a manual typewriter because they have insufficient finger strength. For that matter, few people even have a manual typewriter. Hell, not a lot of people have seen one in person.  When people use calculators, they cannot do mathematics – even count change – in their heads. With GPS, people lose the ability and incentive to use maps or, God forbid, a magnetic compass. They even forget things like which direction the sun is in the evening.  They must depend on the little voice in the machine to send them left, right, left.  And off road?  Heresy!

We depend on magnetic stud finders rather than rapping on walls with our knuckles. We depend on laser range finders rather than looking and estimating that the green is 150 yards away. We use piezoelectric lighters rather than matches. (I won’t even go to flint & steel.)  The really lazy among us use voice recognition technology rather than keyboards.  (Um, like I do for the first draft of most of these Dispatches.)  We use backup cameras rather than mirrors, and Google research rather than knowing actually how to find information. We use Doppler radar rather than watching the sky ... And so forth.

Each time we have some new gadget, some human knowledge or skill is reduced or lost.

This is not a call to the Luddite life. The wonders which technology has wrought! 

A random example: Automobiles used to need a “break-in” period.  The engine and running gear had to rub together at speed so the parts would wear to the point that they fit. Little bits of metal would break off in the process, so for the first thousand miles, you had to hold your speed down and at the end of that you had to change all of the engine and running gear fluids. Now, the machine tools that make engines, etc., are computer-controlled and the tolerances right from the factory are close enough that the cars do not need a break in period.

Another example: The F-117 fighter-bomber cannot get off the ground and stay in the air without a computer controlling it. It is so non-aerodynamic that no human pilot can make enough fast and tiny control inputs to keep it flying. And it is one of the mainstays of United States air superiority.

But at some point, electrical power will fail and so will the backup power.  The franistan or the glominator in the computer will short out and die or, worse, give incorrect information.

When that happens, humans may take control - but only if they know how.

If we don’t know how, we have let the deus ex machina write for us a very sad epitaph.

09 July 2013

Patriot Coal - Rallying to Nowhere While The Company Goes to the Bank

Years ago, a wizened and bearded fellow who was always on the courthouse steps in Fairmont identified himself as a “full-time observer of the scene.” I suppose that qualifies me as a “part-time observer of the scene.”

This morning, my buddy Dave and I were having coffee as is our occasional habit. Son Tim joined us as he was coming off midnight shift. As we were solving some few of the world’s problems, tour buses started trickling by the window. Over 45 min., there must have been 15 or 20 of them, all full of older gentleman who fit the term “working men.” 

I had to take a look at the newspaper to see what’s what.  As it turned out they were on buses engaged by the United Mine Workers of America to attend a rally on the football field at Fairmont State University.

The subject of the rally was the Patriot Coal bankruptcy debacle.

The press reported later today that about 5000 people attended the rally.

Here is a ultrashort sketch of the Patriot Coal case. One of the big coal producers in West Virginia over the years was Eastern Associated Coal Corporation. While it was still operating lots of mines, it’s sold out operations to Peabody Coal, later Peabody Energy.

Over the years, miners have made a fair living to a pretty decent living mining coal. Let me note at the outset that there is no amount of money that would get me to work in a coal mine. Part of the miners’ contract was that upon retirement they would receive certain pension benefits based on their longevity and also fairly decent healthcare coverage. This was to be paid by the company from future revenue. That is, the company was betting that it was going to continue to make money, and based upon that made a solemn promise to its employees.

Peabody went through a corporate reorganization and a separate company, Patriot Coal, was spun off as an independent company. The obligation to pay pensions and health benefits went with Patriot.

Another large coal producer, Arch Minerals, spun off some of their coal business into Magnum Coal Company, and Patriot Coal bought Magnum Coal. So the obligation to pay the pensions and health benefits for a great many retired miners went with Patriot.

In 2012, Patriot Coal Company filed for bankruptcy in the Eastern District of Missouri. Part of its bankruptcy plan was to reduce drastically wages of miners working under contract and also cut the pension and healthcare benefits of many retirees. Patriot said that it needed to save $150 million a year in labor costs to stay in business.  Patriot had $1.6 billion in pension and health-care liabilities that it proposed to slash by about 75%.

Patriot Coal said that all this was necessitated by poor market conditions and by the increasing environmental regulation of coal. To be sure, the coal business has taken a slide – recall that a couple of weeks ago, Pres. Obama declared war on the coal industry by directing the EPA to adopt emissions regulations that will make it virtually impossible to burn coal in power plants.

(The President said he was this was not a war on coal. Bullshit. If someone’s going to be a pirate, by all means fly the Jolly Roger. Hypocrisy is unbecoming.)

The UMWA says that the Patriot spin off was a put up job designed to isolate pension and health care responsibilities in a company that was destined to fail.  Then, those obligations could be wiped off the slate in a bankruptcy, saving the parent company a great gob of money, to the detriment of retired miners.

A United States Bankruptcy Judge granted Patriot Coal’s request to void its union contracts and to cut the pensions and health care of some tens of thousands of retired miners. The Bankruptcy Judge directly addressed the Union’s allegation of fraud: “Maybe not. Maybe.”

She then applied what she saw as the clear requirements of the law to permit Patriot Coal to abandon these obligations.

The Union has declared that it is going to appeal the bankruptcy decision in Federal Court, which it has every right to do.

Today, I have a few observations which are likely to piss everybody off. 

Right, like that’s going to stop me.

The Right to Rally:

Any group of citizens, whether they call themselves a union or just a bunch of folks who all showed up at the same place at the same time, have an absolute right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. That right is protected  by the First Amendment.

At such a rally, people attending it can say pretty much whatever they please. It’s a grade school civics mantra that there are few places on earth where citizens can do this, but it’s still true.  In lots and lots of other places, people attending such a rally would be met by riot police, German shepherds, teargas and water cannons. At today’s Fairmont rally, there were about 15 police officers for the 5000 people, and mostly they were directing traffic. 

Several speakers went on to cajole, shout, scream, rant, rave, and commit what would in most sovereign nations be sedition.  Quite properly there was no negative governmental reaction. These are citizens. This is America.

Moreover, citizens acting collectively (as in a union) can sponsor and pay for such a rally and no one can stop them. For that matter, after the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court of the United States, even a corporation can have a political rally and write the cost of it off on their taxes.

The Ineffectiveness of a Rally:

Whether it was wise to have the rally, whether it accomplished anything except enrich bus companies, depends on what the goal was. If the Union’s goal was to get the Bankruptcy Court to change its order, then this rally was just a big bloody waste of time and money.

We have an independent judiciary. Judges are not supposed to care what a majority (or minority for that matter) thinks about an issue before the Court. That’s really rather annoying to the citizens because the government is supposed to be us and the Courts are a part of government.  For a Court to ignore the People seems damned highhanded.

That is, it’s annoying until we happen to be in a minority on the short end of the stick. If you are charged with a crime and everybody thinks you’re guilty and that what you did was the worst offense since Pilate ruled, you still have a right to a trial.   If the State does not prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you have a right to a judgment of acquittal. As I write this, the George Zimmerman trial is stumbling along in Florida.  Nearly everyone has an opinion about what the verdict should be.  There is some positive correlation with the race of the person having the opinion.

(No, it’s nowhere near a 1:1 correlation, thanks be to God. There are still lots of people who have a passing familiarity with and respect for the Constitution.)

(Incidentally, I don’t have an opinion about Zimmerman.  I’m not a juror there.)

No matter what anybody believes is “obvious,” or what they “just know” happened, the public is not deciding that case. A jury which hears evidence directly from the people involved will make a decision and if that is something contrary to the majority view, that’s just too bad.

If the UMWA had brought this Bankruptcy Judge to the rally and given her a comfortable chair on the dais to listen to everything, the law requires that she not be swayed one bit by anything said. No matter how strongly people believe their position, a strength of this Republic is that we follow the law whether we like it or not.

So in terms of affecting the result of the pending Bankruptcy case, the Union would have been better off to take the bus money and put it toward the legal challenge in the bankruptcy case. How might it be shown that the Patriot reorganization was a put up job? Well, that needs to be done in court and can only be done by lawyers doing the case the old-fashioned way: working hard at it.  I can envision a course of action using the discovery process which could prove (or disprove) the bad intent of the people who planned the reorganization and bankruptcy. But that won’t happen with wishful thinking, it will take work.

And money.

So from the immediate and direct cause standpoint, this rally was a waste of time.

On the other hand, if indeed the Union has an actual political strategy, perhaps such rallies are useful. Personally, I think that one on one jawboning and media work better but I will admit the last political rally I attended (2004) was quite invigorating.

“Having a political strategy” sounds rather cynical. I can live with that. It is. It’s cynical as hell. But it seems to work. Peabody, Arch and Patriot Coal all spent great gobs of money on lobbying and other political activities.  I doubt if they have had one damn rally.

So far, who’s winning?

And here’s a problem with anything on behalf of real people. “The people” often are represented by ideologues who may or may not have a clue how to be politically effective. “Non-people” are driven by money and the meritocracy of making money puts effective people in decision-making positions.

No wonder The People are getting beaten like a drum.

Who is Paying for Patriot’s Failure?:

When people invest in something, their rate of return – the money they get for their investment – depends on a lot of things. It depends on how smart they were and what business they selected, the relative probability of the business failing versus succeeding and what unpredictable factors intervene.  The latter is commonly called “luck.”

If investors make a bad investment, they lose money. It happens all the time. 

Here, even if you absolutely accept Patriot Coal Company’s contention that the bankruptcy was brought on by unpredictable conditions, there still is a darn good argument to be made that the people who made bad investments should the ones that lose.  Investors invested.  Miners had a contract.  There is a difference.

Another argument can be made that the bankruptcy law was intended to protect people from non-people like individual debtors from banks when their luck (there’s that word again) goes bad. 

The retired miners made a bargain and they fulfilled their end of the deal. In doing so, they worked in conditions that few workers would tolerate.  In doing that job, they made it possible for the American economy to work.  Historically, the great majority of electricity (and ALL steel) has been made with coal.  Even today, 50% of electricity comes from coal-fired generation. In some mines even today, miners work in knee-deep in water all day, every day. In all mines, they work in an atmosphere full of hazardous dust. In the safest mine, they work with  significant dangers of injury from moving equipment, electricity, lifting, fire and explosion.  These retired miners did this dangerous and difficult work to take care of their families by earning money.  That’s why most of us have jobs.  And that’s why they had a contract which would provide significant benefits.

So this Bankruptcy Judge has decreed that the law requires that these miners will pay for the losses of unlucky investors.  And perhaps the law requires just that. 

In many other places where people are not attuned to this particular industry, that sounds okay. I’ve heard unions called greedy (and some of them are) and industrial workers called greedy (some of them are). Ditto for lawyers, doctors, banks, car companies, and the guy who charges $4 to launder a dress shirt.  So if you think that this is all a tempest in a teapot and the people who took it in the shorts need to suck it up and soldier on, well, this is America and you can have whatever opinion you like.

Um, as long as you pay your taxes.  Because you are paying for a share of the Patriot debacle. 

These retired miners are going to have healthcare needs and other financial needs which are going to be filled somehow. To a large extent, that cost is going to be directly upon the miners and their families.  They will have less money to spend on other things, including necessities. 

Particularly with healthcare, you are also footing the bill.

Healthcare costs which are not paid by the now-gutted healthcare plan have to be soaked up somewhere. Not many individuals can afford to pay the full price of healthcare. If those costs are not paid by insurance, a great deal of them will be paid by Medicare and Medicaid.  That is, by you.  And where healthcare costs are not paid by the failed plan, the hospitals are not going to absorb the entire loss.  They have to pay their own employees and power bill.  So they will shift the costs to government, other patients and other insurance companies.  Again, to you.

I’m neither conservative nor liberal as those terms are used today.  Hell, I’m not even sure what the terms mean, and I doubt that any two political loudmouths use the same definition. On one of my jackets, I have a 1912  Progressive Party pin. If you’re looking for some canned political philosophy that I can endorse, I suppose that TR came closer than anybody.  And a part of that philosophy is that the entire nation is interconnected.  When we permit one person to harm another, the harm is done to us all.  

And when we say that this sort of issue doesn’t affect us, well, we’re not being very bright.