Lesson in King Coal
Take the kids to visit Portal 31 in Lynch in Harlan County, Kentucky’s only demonstration coal mine. The tour into the mine gives a clear impression of how Appalachian deep coal was mined there from about 1900 to when it played out in 1963; the people who mined it; its importance in building our nation, and how coal was formed about 300 million years ago. It doesn’t say much about the role of coal in causing black lung disease and climate change, or how coal is rapidly becoming less economical than natural gas and renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal for producing electrical energy. It doesn’t say anything about the deception in the expression “war on coal” by politicians, or about how we might help people employed in coal production adapt to the decline of King Coal.
The tour does cover how crucial coal mining was to victory in World War II, and that miners were exempt from selective service because their work in producing basic energy was essential to the war effort. It’s an excellent lesson in the history and the role of Kentucky coal in building and sustaining — to this point in time — our U.S. lifestyle and freedoms, a lesson that all kids and Kentuckians should appreciate as we move beyond that era.
George Wagner, Wilmore
Dems at fault for pensions
One of the groups that seem to have the most anger at Gov. Matt Bevin is the teachers. They left work to protest in Frankfort, they expressed vile threats against him as well as the legislature, and they write damning letters to the newspaper against him and against people like me.
However, for years the teachers’ union gave its dues and support to every Democrat running for office. When the state was being run by Democrats that these teachers supported, teachers had been promised hefty retirement pensions (compared to their salaries). Meanwhile, these same Democrat-controlled legislatures failed their responsibility to adequately fund teacher pensions.
Now there is not enough money to pay these pensions nor an easy way to make these required reserve funds healthy, most experts tell us. Only recently do we have a Republican governor willing to solve this problem. No Democrat, it seemed, was willing to do this. Solutions will be painful, not only to retired teachers, but also painful to all other taxpayers who are expected to make up the difference.
Yet, another Democrat wants to raise teacher salaries a lot. Maybe he didn’t get the message that we already have a severe money crisis.
C. Brown, Lexington
Mental illness stigma
Stigma is one of these things, much like institutionalized racism, that is very real but hiding in plain sight. And it causes horribly harmful effects for us. Especially with mental health, if there were no stigma, barriers to confront and manage mental illness would largely evaporate.
Aside from all else, mental illness falls under the same human health-malady umbrella as does broken bones. Can you imagine if there were a stigma surrounding broken bones? To be clear, a stigma is a normative evaluation with a negative connotation.
One thing can be said for certain is that there is no such thing as a “mental institution”. There are psychiatric hospitals where mentally ill people can go for medical treatment. Creating straw dogs out of mentally ill people and using biased terminology is ignorant, amoral, hurtful, and wrong.
Doug Epling, Lexington