Update IV: Mining Men



The Upper Big Branch South Mine near Montcoal, W.Va., is where “a methane explosion killed 25 miners and left four more missing and thought dead. The mine, operated by a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co., had been cited for several violations relating to proper ventilation.” This is “the worst mining disaster in over 20 years,” reports the Hill.

A suspect source, the United Mine Workers, “said that the mine had been the subject of 450 safety violations and that the company has paid over $1 million in fines last year.”

Regulation generally works to the detriment of those it is intended to help, since a less-than-honorable company will find the fine cheaper than the fixes needed to bring the mine up to par.

Update I (April 6): Coal-mining accidents always remind me—but not other media member, it seems—that men do society’s most dangerous jobs. Poor men, especially, go underground to make a living; have done so for generations.
Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 classic How Green Was My Valley (your children should have read it) depicts this reality in an achingly beautiful way. The book haunted me for years after I had read it, as a kid. “Margaret’s Museum” achieves a good deal on celluloid.

Update II: The following is from an 1935 article, “The World’s Most Dangerous Jobs.” Since then working conditions have improved for men because of advancement is technology, among other reasons. I also believe that workers in the fishing, timber and electrical power-line fields have overtaken miners as far as death on the job goes:

“‘COME quick! There’s a man hurt!’ Almost ten times every minute, more than 4,000 times each working day, that cry resounds somewhere among America’s great mass of industrial workers.”

“Once every ten minutes that cry means death for another working man. In 1933 it sounded the death knell of 46 men a day. These dying, injured, and maimed men were following ordinary jobs in most cases. They were not stunting aviators, daredevil race drivers, or human flies. Who then has the most dangerous job?”

With an accident frequency rate of 65.28 per million man-hours of exposure, say the Safety Council figures, the coal miner works at the world’s most dangerous job.
There are approximately a million miners in this country. While these men are working just one hour of one working day, more than 65 of them will be injured at their work.
The miner then has the world’s most dangerous job.
Second to mining, is lumbering. This occupation has an accident frequency rate of 59.67 per million man-hours of work. Third in the list of most dangerous occupations is the construction industry with a rate of 55.66.
And what is the safest job? At the top of the list of some thirty industries, accounted for in the figures of the National Safety Council, stands tobacco processing with a frequency rate of only 1.43, the safest occupation in this country!
For many years coal mining has led all other employments in the annual number of fatal and permanent injuries suffered in accidents.

Update III: “Mining Safety Reexamined After Another Deadly Disaster in W.Va.”

Update IV (April 7): What I know about rescue protocol in mining accidents is dangerous, but not nearly as hazardous as the slow speed with which the rescue at the Upper Big Branch Mine is proceeding.

They’ve drilled one hole “to release enough methane gas so searchers can enter the mine.”

How many more holes must they bore before they’ll allow searches to brave the Pit?

Presently they appear to be endlessly testing air samples. Can you imagine the time lost sending samples to the feds? Even if they do it on location, which is what I presume is happening, from the vantage point of the relatives this rescue must looks like a Ninny-State operation.

Maybe the authorities involved have decided it is no longer a rescue, but a recovery operation. How I hope this is not the case.

Poor, poor people. But for the grace…

5 thoughts on “Update IV: Mining Men

  1. Roger Chaillet

    One of my aunts is from the town of Grundy, Virginia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grundy,_Virginia It’s in coal country.

    My aunt’s father was killed in a mine accident. He was hit by a rail car loaded with coal. She was six years old when it happened.

    Left unmentioned: These are jobs that Americans have always done.

    Except by the elites.

  2. Big Swede

    So far I have only found two “media members” in the whole world who are really concerned about men, and not only women. Warren Farrel and you.

    In my opinion you are both heroes as there is absolute no bonus to gain caring for men in public. Rather there are severe punishments.

    I just wanted to thank you for your integrity, and your care for truth about the problem real people, including men, have in life.

  3. Hugo Schmidt

    I wonder how much research is done to put this dangerous business behind us? I know a lot of cancer researchers etc. but now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever come across someone working to make mining less dangerous.

  4. Mike Marks

    Some of my family’s roots go back into western Pennsylvania. They farmed the land and worked in the mines. Life was difficult for these men and their families. My grandparents did not have an indoor WC until the 60’s. Some of the machinery has made the work in the mines somewhat safer but, as we find out a couple of times a year not much.

  5. Myron Pauli

    Very few people seem upset that MEN constitute a de facto disposable commodity (plus, as we are taught, they are “all rapists”). Education has been a feminized profession for years and most colleges are now female/LGBT dominated. Hostile administrators basically target and scapegoat the heterosexual white males who actually make it into college.

    This brings back memories from the 1984 Presidential campaign when the feminists wanted. It was apparently sexist and unfair for a mere electrician to get more pay than an “educated” librarian with a master’s degree:


    And, of course, Aunt Samantha (e.g. the feminized Uncle Sam) would get to decide everyone’s comparable worth. I liked to use this example: suppose it is 110 degrees, your air conditioner’s fuse has blown, and all your books got stolen – who do you call, the librarian or the electrician????

    Nowadays, blue-collar men are, de facto, sub-human Morlocks

    DEFINITION: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morlock

    We can, naturally, keep their wages down by importing an unlimited number of foreign Morlocks to replace the domestic variety (a policy which has achieved great success in Europe, for example). Well, it is nice of you to put in a good word for the endangered subspecies!

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