Op-Ed

'Met coal' taking edge off birth-defects worries

If you are in the mountains and see some people carrying buckets of coal up the road, do not feel sorry for them.

Metallurgical, 'met,' coal is now selling for 15 cents a pound and people are stealing it by the bucket to sell on the black market.

Met coal comes closest to being the mythical clean coal of presidential elections and is being shipped overseas, with us jacking the price up like we were OPEC or something.

Ole Massa got in trouble for having two sets of books, which is precisely twice the sets of books most coal companies have. Now, it is not unusual for there to be one set of tonnage production data for the royalty and another for the railroad, but that is different.

Frankly, if I worked at a Massey mine, I would rather they do have a secret list of unsafe things, and not just rely on the list they show the inspectors.

The name of the company that bought Massey out starts with Alpha Nature and the guy who runs it sounds like he might have a little sense, but we wait to be surprised by that.

We were surprised that Gov. Paul Patton had not in fact cured black lung disease. We found that out by examining the lungs of a few dozen suffocated miners and three fourths of them had black lung.

And so you wonder how much quicker you die in an explosion if you can't get your breath, and are you better off?

Not to take up too much for coal companies, but the fact that we people who live under removed mountains have a lot more birth defects may also correlate with the fact the most popular name for twins in coal country are Lora and Tab.

Watson makes wonderful birth defects, marketed in 7.5 milligram, only available to two sets of people — those real, real sick and those not sick at all.

Upjohn, whose pill supplies another word in the vocabulary of second graders besides xylophone that starts with "x" should have made an ED pill called Upjohn. I can steal that old joke more and more as old George Carlin fans die off.

Birth defects can become a cottage industry in the mountains. I am personally against most birth defects, but that coal has to be mined.

Not all birth defects are bad. I think everybody should have Down' syndrome. The world would be a better place in which to live, a phrase I will sell to some campaigner in Iowa.

But there is no question that birth defects are costly and cause people to have to buy stuff which we can sell them.

Medicine cures all the defects those of us who are normal have, except maybe unhappiness. If they make a medicine to cure unhappiness, they will spray it out of planes over the 5th Congressional District, where sorrow is in the winds of change. If they spray us, they better watch out for the helicopters destroying our current cash economy.

But the trouble with an economy based on birth defects is that someday they may cure them and then where would we be?

If you depend on birth defects for a living, you run the risk that someday the Environmental Protection Agency will do its job.

Larry Webster is a Pikeville attorney.

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