"Mr. Lucky": From the Fifth Millennium BCE: Hoisted from Others' Archives from Eight Years Ago
Very Brief Musings on Democracy

Must-Read: Bill Galston: Hard Truths for Appalachian Coal Country:

Nearly all the reduction in mining employment occurred before the federal government even began trying to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels...

It is irresponsible for politicians to suggest that these mining jobs will return; they can’t and won’t. And even if mining recovered modestly, it would make at best a small contribution to coal states’ economies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining and logging now account for only 3% of West Virginia’s total employment and less than 1% of Kentucky’s. Coal is less an economic development issue than a potent symbol in the partisan culture war. The future lies elsewhere.

Real economic recovery in Appalachia—the heart of Red America—requires facing some hard truths.... West Virginia has the lowest labor-force participation rate of any state in the country, 53%, and Kentucky the seventh-lowest, 58.5%.... Among prime working-age adults, age 25 to 54, West Virginia ranks dead last, Kentucky next to last.... Low levels of educational attainment help explain this gap, as does poor health. West Virginians are twice as likely as the average American to receive federal disability payments. Indeed, the share of the state’s adult population dependent on Social Security Disability Insurance is the highest in the country. (Kentucky ranks fourth.)

J.D. Vance... writes about running into a hometown acquaintance who said he had quit his job because he was “sick of waking up early.” Mr. Vance subsequently saw him complaining on Facebook about the “ Obama economy.” This man, he comments, is not a victim: His situation is “directly attributable to the choices he’s made.” But nothing in his environment forces him to look in the mirror and ask tough questions about himself. On the contrary, Mr. Vance insists: “There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.” The author of “Hillbilly Elegy”... a self-described conservative... criticizes his fellow conservatives for failing to tell their constituents the truth. Instead, the message of the right, Mr. Vance says, is: “It’s not your fault that you’re a loser; it’s the government’s fault”...