Joe Biden, the guy the Democrats are relying on to beat President Donald Trump in 2020, told a bunch of rally-goers in Derry, New Hampshire, that coal miners, many of whom live and work in the area, ought to stop all this coal mining nonsense and get with the 21st century program and learn a new trade, a cleaner trade, a more environmentally sound trade — like coding.
What a snob.
What an elitist, entitled, arrogant snob.
He’s talking about the heart-and-soul types of America — the blue-collar hard workers, the backbone of American production, the chugging train of the U.S. economy.
And his underlying message to them?
Quit all this coal crap and get a real life. Get a real job. Coal mining is soooo yesterday — and by the way, thank goodness you have me, the Great Joe Biden Oz, to tell you this. ‘Cause obviously, you’re too stupid to figure it out on your own.
That’s quite a mouthful.
But that’s the truth.
And nobody knew it better than the crowd of Biden’s listeners.
“According to Dave Weigel of the Washington Post,” The Hill wrote, “the comment was met with silence from the audience.”
That’s because they were all busily thinking — did he just call me an idiot?
Did he just tell an entire class of working people that their jobs suck?
Coal mining is a tough business. It’s an important business — a business only a few can actually bear to do. In fact, it’s so difficult that it’s recognized with its own day of remembrance and honor, National Miners Day. Every Dec. 6, the United States commemorates “the contributions and sacrifices of miners both past and present” — of which there are many, as Earth Networks noted.
“Believe it or not, the fatality rate for miners during the beginning of the 20th century was over 1,000 per year,” Earth Networks reported. “In addition to these deaths, thousands more were injured.”
That doesn’t even get to the hazardous health conditions miners suffer. Black lung disease infects roughly 17% of coal miners; tens of thousands have died from this condition. Meanwhile, on-the-job risks are a-plenty. Landslides, mudslides, cavings are daily threats. Even lightning carries its own special hazards.
Yet, the coal-mining industry alone employs roughly 53,000 — and of that, 32,000 work underground, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the National Mining Association reported in September of 2018 that mines for coal, metal ores and non-metallic minerals either directly or indirectly provided full- and part-time employment for more than 1.5 million.
“U.S. labor income associated with U.S. mining exceeded $95 billion in 2017,” NMA reported.
And the coal sector alone, by NMA’s figuring, “accounted for 419,531 total jobs, $29.6 billion in total labor income and $57.6 billion in total contribution to GDP.”
But as Biden said — eh, these people can just go learn to code or something.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.
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