Archive for the Social and Political Commentary Category

Massey Comes to Power

Posted in Save Appalachia, Social and Political Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by ezlnwv

To celebrate the DVD reissue of the 1986 film The Mine War on Blackberry Creek, Appalshop is streaming the documentary in its entirety (28 minutes) on the web for free.  In 1984, Massey began a push to break the union along the West Virginia and Kentucky border. But union miners refused to give away their high wages, pensions, benefits, and independence without a struggle.  Compelled by the blood their ancestors spilled to give them their rights, and in solidarity with South Africans working in slave conditions in Massey mines across the globe, union miners struggled intensely for two and a half years against company goons, amoral scabs, and a state police force which might as well have been on king coal’s payroll.

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Make a Statement: Skip the Tolls

Posted in Social and Political Commentary, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 2, 2009 by ezlnwv

Update (2018): this blog has not been updated in ten years. It was just announced that the tolls will soon double, from $2 to $4. This will pose an extreme hardship to the people of southern West Virginia. Why not put the tolls in the eastern or northern panhandles instead of the very poorest region in the state?

Back in 2009, when the tolls were last increased, we were promised that the increase was necessary so the tolls could be removed by 2019.



Despite public outcry, the WV Parkways Authority, with the support of Governor Manchin, exacted a 60% toll increase on the West Virginia turnpike: a highway that runs through some of the poorest regions in the state. Thus, the same people who are struggling the most in this recession will feel the brunt of the increase. Tax the poor because they can’t afford to fight back.

There are three toll booths on the turnpike. On this post, I will give you directions to get around all of them.  Skipping some of the booths is surprisingly easy, while avoiding others can be a little troublesome.  If you know of an easier way, please comment.

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The Meaning of Anti-Coal in West Virginia

Posted in Save Appalachia, Social and Political Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by ezlnwv

The meaning of anti-coal in West Virginia is broad.  To be against coal doesn’t mean to be against the mining and use of coal. Thanks to the Coal Industry’s intensive PR campaign, to be against mountaintop removal, a relatively new mining process in which 1/4 to 2/3 of a mountain is blown away and its debris pushed into the surrounding stream-valleys, also means to be anti-coal.

But it doesn’t even stop there. According to the WV delegates who opposed the coal river wind resolution (over half of them), it is anti-coal to support the preservation of ONE mountain from destruction so that it can be used as a wind farm that will bring more jobs, safer jobs, and clean energy.

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Welcome Back Robin Hood

Posted in Social and Political Commentary with tags , on February 25, 2009 by ezlnwv

Jim Hightower once described the policies of our plutocratic government as “Dooh Nibor,” which is Robin Hood in reverse: it steals directly from the working poor to give to the non-working rich, while perfunctorily assuring us that a rising yacht lifts all boats [my advice: wear a life jacket].

All too often, American tax dollars are used to socialize the investments of the super-rich–their pyramid schemes, boondoggles, and wars. 


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Mike Roselle is a Threat to the Powers That (shouldn’t) Be

Posted in Save Appalachia, Social and Political Commentary with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by ezlnwv

Coal River Mountain is the only mountain left largely intact in South-Central West Virginia. It is the mountain in the background of the blog title and the subject of my post A Scenic Wonderland.  It is also under attack.

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Capitalism comes to Dinner

Posted in Social and Political Commentary with tags on February 6, 2009 by notwillienelson

It was an awkward dinner from the beginning. An unfamiliar town and an unfamiliar group of people. I was there with my wife to celebrate her friend’s birthday and was seated across from a friend of my wife’s friend. Conversation was friendly and we talked about our jobs and the areas in which we lived. The friend talked about how there was nothing to do in Virginia and asked about Princeton. “Is there shopping?”

“There’s a Wal-Mart” was my reply. Let’s be frank- there isn’t much in West Virginia either. She seemed displeased but pleasant discourse continued. The lady, it seems, was a real estate agent. Her husband teaches at a collegiate level, and she seemed to be desperately bored with life here in the mountains. The discussion turned, for lack of a better term, interesting when she said “my family owns factories in Mexico.”

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A Reflection

Posted in Social and Political Commentary on January 3, 2009 by notwillienelson

A number of years ago a chance encounter at a local gas station radically altered my way of thinking. As I left the store I noticed a man standing and talking to one of his peers. I recognized this man as the father of one of my classmates, and also knew his reputation as a drug and alcohol abuser.

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