To become responsible adults, we must accept that our most cherished beliefs are falsehoods that must be abandoned. We learn there is no Santa Claus and we will not get that pony for our birthday. We are forced to face uncomfortable and inconvenient truths lest we are labeled delusional.
One delusion that gets a lot of airtime and populist angst is the infamous "Obama's war on coal." In 2005, Stephen Colbert coined the word "truthiness" as a quality characterizing a "truth" everyone knows to be true because they feel it is right without any regard to the scientific evidence, logical argument or even the simplest reality of basic facts.
The GOP has peddled the myth of President Barack Obama's war on coal for six years, so I think it is worth a reality check.
According to Department of Labor statistics, there were 47,190 coal-mining jobs in Kentucky in 1979, the year before the GOP demigod Ronald Reagan was elected president. This total includes both deep shaft mining and surface mining for both the Eastern Kentucky and the Western Kentucky coalfields.
By the time Bill Clinton took office in 1992, the total number of coal jobs had fallen to 24,624, or a loss of about 48 percent of the jobs in 1979, about 1,736 jobs lost a year.
During the Clinton presidency, the number of coal jobs fell from 26,642 to 15,500, or a loss of about 41 percent, equivalent to a loss of 1,140 jobs a year.
During George W. Bush's terms, the number of jobs rose from 15,500 to 17,959, an increase of about 16 percent, about 409 jobs a year. This was two years before Barack Obama took office, and the total number of jobs in coal mining was only about 38 percent of the total when Ronald Reagan took office.
The facts are clear: The war on coal was lost long before Obama was elected. Politicians and an unhappy electorate blame Obama because they have a short-term memory of the jobs lost. The administrations of two GOP presidents lost eight times as many coal jobs as Obama, but people conveniently forget that fact.
The loss of coal mining jobs in Kentucky reflects more the reality of technology and economics than who is president.
Surface mining and mountaintop removal are replacing deep shaft mining. According to one industry report, the coal produced in Kentucky costs three times as much as the coal produced in the Wyoming coalfields.
The fact that coal-burning power plants contribute 40 percent of the environmental mercury each year is causing consumers to switch to cleaner energy sources, particularly natural gas, which is much cheaper and safer to produce than coal.
Another myth propagated by those in politics is that coal is a major component of Kentucky's economy. In fact, coal mining revenues account for only about one percent of the overall state economy.
Those who want to help the dying coal industry would be well advised to face the truth of the situation rather than the "truthiness" that better fits their ideology. Start developing training and educational opportunities to move to a new economy instead of charging a man with murder because he shot a corpse.