God & Murray Coal
Last comment by Helphand 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Robert E. Murray began the meeting with a lengthy prayer ending with the following words:" Lord, Please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that You have helped us build." And with these words, he fired 156 employees in Utah and West Virginia ,making good his threat to fire workers if the election did not go his way. Murray is one of several business owners,making similar threats but to date the only one who has acted on such threats.

It was ,of course, his reaction to the President's war on coal,a catch phrase often repeated in an attempt to gain some political traction. The only problem is that coal employment is at a fifteen year high ,and coal exports to China have provided a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy.Any threat to the coal industry is due to the workings of the free market and the attractiveness of cheap and less polluting natural gas.

Murray should be getting right with God because Murray Coal has has a checkered past.For example,an Illinois mine purchased in 1998 has exceeded the national norm for safety violations every year since 1998. The Mine Safety and Health Administration levied a 1.86 million dollar fine and found criminal safety violations for a mine disaster in Utah that killed six miners.And adding to this sad litany, Murray Coal has been fined over eighteen million dollars and cited for 7,747 safety violations from 2000 to 2009.

Murray has also been very active in his own brand of coercive politics.Political "contributions' have been deducted from pay and attendance at the right kind of political events has been mandatory.Workers have been pressured to support favored candidates. This past August workers were told to attend a Romney event and docked a day's pay. Murray is currently under investigation for a number of illegal campaign contributions.

The object lesson in all of this is that business, religion ,and politics really need to operate in separate spheres. Employers and workers have a stake in the political process only as individuals so that the rich man's vote should count no more than the poor man's vote.No political party can claim to have God's ear ,for those who invoke God in politics are usually far,far from God.

Instead of handwringing, sackcloth and ashes, and dire predictions about the end of the Republic, we need to repair this great land of ours, and censure those who would subvert the democratic process for commercial gain. We need to pay more attention to the great need to separate church and state. Political campaign reform would help. The fifth estate could help. We do not need the news to be "fair and balanced," we need newsmen to be honest.Ours is not the impossible dream.

Latest Activity: Nov 09, 2012 at 7:59 PM

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Bryant commented on Saturday, Nov 10, 2012 at 13:28 PM

Good blog.

Sparklebeam commented on Saturday, Nov 10, 2012 at 15:00 PM


22 commented on Monday, Nov 12, 2012 at 10:07 AM

The Mine Safety and Health Administration hauled Mr. Peabody's coal trains away.

Bryant commented on Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012 at 15:45 PM

Thanks to Pat Green's, "Paradise"

Sox commented on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 16:02 PM

I don't know much about Murray Coal, but I am afraid we are about to see a lot more of this, combined with moving many full time employees to part time status in an effort to avoid the financial aspects of Obamacare.

theflyonthewall commented on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 19:11 PM

Sox, CEO's need to be very careful that what could easily be interpreted as spite does not provoke consumer boycotts.For example, the Papa John's pizza chain would have to raise its prices by only three or four cents per pie to pay for the added cost---a cost that it would be wiser to absorb given the very real cost of negative publicity. A brand has tangible worth and should not be frittered away. Papa could learn just how expensive a temper tantrum can be.

Scindapsus commented on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 22:39 PM

This always seems like such a strange subject to me. Clearly Papa John has no interest in whether his employees have health insurance, given the rhetoric he "employs" when faced with the prospect of providing it for them. And conservatives don't fault him for his lack of caring for his employees, they fault Obama for his lack of caring for the CEO.

But here's the thing; why SHOULD it be the employer's responsibility to provide health insurance for its employees, most of whom may well be short-timers or part-timers (which doesn't mean health insurance is less relevant to them)? How many employers would be upset if they no longer had to deal with this headache? There's no fundamental reason that health insurance should be tied to an employer any more than car insurance; it was actually a ploy that employers used to get around wage restrictions during World War II.

Sox commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 02:36 AM

I have been trying to do some research on layoffs associated with Obamacare and the one thing that I have determined is this - You can't find an article written that isn't politically slanted one way or the other! So, I'll share with you my problem.

I too am asosciated with foodservice. We own franchise restaurants of a large chain. So, while our business carries a large name, our finances and lifestyle definitely do not. I am considered middle class by all definitions.

I have approx 175 employees, and we are in the process of building another location, which will take my total employment to 250 or so. For us, the implementation of health care for our employees is not a "make less money" situation, it is a "no longer profitable" situation. So, we too are making sure that we cut everyone's hours to under 28 to try and circumvent the Obamacare requirements.

While I am definitely doing this because Obama was re-elected (therefore confirming that Obamacare will most likely not be overturned), I am not doing this to "show my employees". I value my employees very much. I am doing this so that I can KEEP them employed at some level wrather than simply closing down.

Yes, I am sure there are some CEO's anc company owners that will be doing similar things out of spite (though this goes against any basic business principals to make such decisions based strictly on emotion - highly unusual for such successful people). However, I think these people will be in the minority. I think the scariest thing will be when the realization sets in of how many businesses will have to make similar decisions simply based on economics.

Fly - to respond to you directly. Yes, I think that some people (foolishly) may make decisions based on spite. I think others will be blamed by the media (foolishly) that they are making spiteful decisions when it is simply economic. Only time will tell, but as a nation we are taking one hell of a chance. Hope we're right.

theflyonthewall commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Sox, I am not a businessman ,so I would not presume to tell your business ,but have you ever considered purchasing a food truck? The reason this occurred to me is the simple fact that the profit margin on a food truck is much,much greater than that to obtained from the typical fast food operation,particularly in light of the exorbitant franchise fees charged by the major chains.Most food trucks are to be found in major cities ,but since Statesboro is a college town, a food truck might work here as well.

An additional consideration is the fact that a food truck can go to the customers and is not dependent upon location.A number of restaurants have failed in Statesboro because the location of the restaurant was ill considered.

A last consideration would be the nature of modern food trucks. Contemporary food trucks have moved away from the burger wars and sell a great variety of foods.This is a decided advantage. For example, McDonalds is currently suffering from a dated, unimaginative menu and sales have declined.

Just a thought---good luck!


Scindapsus commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM


Can you clarify something for me? Do you currently provide health insurance for your employees? That is, by cutting everyone's hours are you trying to avoid both providing health insurance and paying the "free-rider" penalty?

Sox commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 13:03 PM

Fly - Funny enough, yes we have. It's a double edged sword. You still have go find a good location to park your truck etc, and of course that can move. In Bulloch County, you still have to have a commisary kitchen to support your food truck - so there is a cost associated with renting space, equipming a kitchen, etc. For us, we have not been able ot make much since of it.

However, more to your point, is the thought process - which I believe many small business owners are having to go through now. How to stay profitable? A change such as closing your restaunt to open a food truck is certainly an option, but doesn't that go against everything we are trying to do in our economy? That kind of thought (which I believe is happening way more than people realize) actually decreases jobs, not increase them. I think the net gain for society by going down that route is poor at best.

Scin - My understanding (and my accountants) is that by keeping employees under the 30 hour mark we can avoid them being classified as full time employees, therefore decreasing the need to provide insurance. We do offer health insurance to our management staff now, but not to the entire work force.

Sox commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 13:04 PM

Please forgive the mountain of typos in that post. Phones are not a good option for typing!

Scindapsus commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 13:26 PM

Sox, I hear you re: phone typing! So it sounds like you do not provide health insurance for most of your employees; does this mean that most of them are uninsured?

Sox commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 17:26 PM

Scan..not sure I can answer that accurately. Some are students so could possibly be coveredu under their parents (if they have insurance). My best guess is that most of them probably do not have coverage

theflyonthewall commented on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 17:47 PM

Sox, What we really need to do is to move away from the service economy and to regain some of the manufacturing prowess that we have lost. The private sector cannot do this alone. Government and private enterprise need to work together to create a workable industrial policy that allows entrepreneurs to flourish without forsaking workers. We could learn something from Germany or even Finland.

I don't have anything against service businesses ,but I do realize that profit margins can be slim,militating against a significant increase in wages or of benefits. All of this is aggravated by the fact that private insurance providers must be profit driven and risk averse in order to survive.Would it be unthinkable to study the French health care system?

Having large numbers of uninsured workers poses a number of public health issues, placing an undue burden on emergency rooms, and creating a reservoir for the spread of disease.This problem is going to cost us all something one way or the other.What to do?

Sox commented on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 08:50 AM

Fly - in a previous life, I sold industrial chemicals to manufacturing plants. I can tell you that we are so far away from getting those jobs back that it is ridiculous. The bottom line with manufacturing jobs is that we are not competitive as a nation to get them. When companies look at the pros and cons of manufacturing in the USA, and compare it with other nations, most of the time we are not the favorable option.

This statement is going to sound incredibally political, and I don't mean for it to be, but our banter here is a good example of why conservatives (me) are frustrated. Rather than fixing the problem (Obamacare will bankrupt by business if I have to implement), it is suggested that I change my business! I acknowledge that there is an undue burden on ER's, etc. However, I am afraid that the implementation of this program will actually increse the burden!

theflyonthewall commented on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 09:47 AM

Sox, A big problem with health care is our fixation on private insurance providers. A fundamental question would be whether it is more important to provide health care or to provide a market for insurance.Profit taking necessarily adds another layer of costs and fees to the entire process.And anyone who has had any dealings with insurance companies knows that they are not always more efficient than government.

As the old saying goes," You can't get blood from a turnip." People who have no money simply cannot pay the tarriff charged by insurance companies and so are condemned to go without.A more equitable system would be to spread the costs throughout our society and not to simply descend upon employers.

A part of our problem is an ingrained provincialism that leads us to assume that the American model is always the best. We cannot continue to assume that we can't learn from the rest of the world as we slowly decline-- and like it or not we are falling behind. Let us innovate ,but let us also have the honesty to realize that we can learn from others whether it be an energy policy, a health care policy, an industrial policy or an educational policy.On the domestic front, the best solutions to our problems will come from a synthesis of conservatism and liberalism.

Sox commented on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 10:04 AM

So your suggestion is that insurance companies should be non-profit?

theflyonthewall commented on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 11:18 AM

No---eliminate them from the health care entirely.

Charles_and_Angie_Howell commented on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 15:31 PM

Fly, Charlie.

I have read your posts for the last few months.

Not mincing words, you do not strike me as the type to "synthesize" liberalism and conservatism. Rather, I believe you would negotiate hard from a position of strength. I guess you forgot how it felt to be pummeled by the opposite party. I am a staunch conservative and I was NOT pleased at the way the GOP in Congress handled their uber-majority with Gingrich.

I would urge the Dems to be diplomatic and gracious in victory and strive for a consensus to heal the nation, but neither side is likely to listen to me.

theflyonthewall commented on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 17:03 PM

Charlie, No one---Democrat or Republican is listening to me either.

Sox commented on Sunday, Nov 18, 2012 at 09:52 AM

Fly - so in your scenario, there is no insurance companies? So I am assuming government then starts regulating the procedural costs (and profitability) of hospitals and medical care?

theflyonthewall commented on Sunday, Nov 18, 2012 at 13:10 PM

Insurance companies already do this either directly or indirectly.

Sox commented on Monday, Nov 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Fly - so in yoru scenario there is no insurance company?

Helphand commented on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 09:14 AM

Health insurance should be an open market like car or life insurance and not an employers responsibility but an individual responsibility. And if you have no insurance or money you should be turned away from doctors and hospitals just like you would be from funeral homes and body repair shops.

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