Working In The Coal Mine

Here’s an oddity from the McCain economic plan — McCain found some jobs that have gone away and that does want to bring back:

The development of clean coal technology will revitalize coal mining and return jobs to some of America’s most economically disadvantaged areas.

U.S. coal production was 1.146 billion (short) tons in 2007, just short of the record 1.163 billion tons in 2006. There are three major features of coal production history: a long secular increase from the early sixties, a shift from underground to surface (a/k/a strip) mining as the dominant production mode, and great increases in productivity in both modes from the 1980s onward. In 1987, an hour of mining labor extracted 2.2 tons of coal in an underground mine, and 4.98 tons in a surface mine. By 2007, those figures had increased to 3.26 and 10.23 tons/hour, respectively.

So why is John McCain against labor productivity?

And why am I reminded of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man character? “In my day, we mined coal with our fingernails, got black lung, and that’s the way it was, and we LIKED IT!!”