While there are many issues which I might choose to comment on, the only one I will is a quote from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program. You can protect the coal industry here with special interests and the amount of lobbying they do, or you can step up in a process and have a regulation that works for the United States of America so the outdoor industry and sportsman and fishermen can continue to thrive.
Well. Health, safety and pensions are compensations. The government should not control compensations in a free society. If you don’t think that they are, would you take a job with the same pay at a place with a worse record on any of the three? Rather, would you take a job with double the pay and 75% of the safety? Are you doing trade offs in your head to answer the second question? Sen. Cantwell would rather you didn’t have that opportunity. While I generally agree that health, safety, and pensions are useful and indeed valuable, that doesn’t mean that the government should be deciding any of them. Even agencies such as OSHA should be more concerned with “is it as safe as they represented to their employees” and sharing best practices. The government shouldn’t set standards, but rather measures. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, consumers determine the price of goods when they make choices among the infinite available in exchange for their limited money, skills, and labor. Even the “price” of money is no different.
In any case, if someone is willing to pay a person to lay bricks in a volcano for a million dollars a year, it isn’t the government’s job to stop either the worker or the employer. If someone wants to work for a higher wage with lower compensations of other sorts, it isn’t something the government should by any right stop. Likewise if someone’s willing to work for half minimum wage doing a particular job, that just means they accept the level of compensation they get for the labor they’re asked to do. As long as it isn’t a matter of slavery or a knife to their throats, it isn’t the government’s job to ask why that is, or to dictate that it can not be. Every bit of legislation that labor unions have ever pressed for in their entire existence was only to benefit that labor union, and not workers in general. Every single one.
I’m pretty sure that the democrats and their supporters have been spending quite a lot of time arguing that the republicans are fascists. Of course, while anonymous mobs that supported the cause went out and broke and burned stuff. Like certain other to remain nameless anonymous mobs known for types of boots and color of shirts… But the bundle of sticks argument and the general consensus among democrats that we should all think like them (we’re happy for them to think however they like, we’d just appreciate it if they didn’t demand we join them in thought and act) is a part of the whole phenomenon, and her argument plays into that. They’re wrong for these reasons as everyone can plainly see, and these innocent sorts are harmed by them, even if they don’t complain, and even if they’re the same miners or executives I’m complaining for.
But that’s not all. It isn’t just the jack-booted.. err. Yes, not mentioning it. Nor the bundle of sticks mentality. But the notion, as covered in my first paragraph, that the government should though infinite regulatory domains, control the means of production. Those Fascists that the left is so fond of claiming everyone else is put no small effort into controlling the means of production. Which is an obvious thing, given that they were all self admitted socialists. Rather, before Hitler decided to take over all of Europe, Mussolini was pointed out by anyone and everyone in power (even some of the right’s heroes at the time) as someone who got Socialism right. He didn’t do so by taking factories from their owners so much as taking control of the owners. There are a lot of ways to control the means of production, ownership is only one means. There are others.
Finally, the coal industry does indeed have lobbyists and are part of something that could be classified as special interests, but so do the environmentalists. Indeed, we all have at least a few issues we’d rather not be flexible on. To the extent you might call their interests bribery (which I don’t) it isn’t any more or less than is done by any number of other groups. Rather, the number of groups against them had more influence under Obama than the Coal industry did. Obviously. Obama was practically their national spokesman against the coal industry. So level of influence is a fallacious argument at best. There is no reason to judge one is morally superior to the other, yet she doesn’t even mention the interests levied against, except the bald assertion that at present levels of regulation, “the outdoor industry,” “sportsmen” and “fishermen” wouldn’t continue to thrive. If that was true, how did they “continue to thrive” up until Obama?
While some might see my take as naive, the world isn’t overrun with Captain Planet villains who do harm while ignoring their own self interests. Even “Loot and Plunder” who were to represent greedy capitalists would ignore their own economic self interests in order to do just a little more harm. Relatively few people, even among sociopaths, actively seek to destroy the world. The world is where we keep all our stuff, after all. There is of course “the tragedy of the commons.” But my experience is that giving the government too much control over “the commons” is also a tragedy, and a much harder one to correct. After all, once someone takes control of an aspect of the commons, keeping that control becomes their special interest.