The post to which this is a postscript is available at: http://academeblog.org/2013/07/10/coal-miners-get-the-shaft-again/
Lest anyone think that what Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are doing through Patriot Coal is an anomaly in the Appalachian coal fields, let me draw your attention to the career of Don Blankenship.
From 1992 to 2010, Blankenship headed Massey Energy in a mode that seemed to many observers to be all too reminiscent of the mine owners who relentlessly and ruthlessly fought the unionization of the coal fields. At the previous turn of the century, those owners had sought to solidify their absolute authority over their employees by paying them in company script usable only at company stores, where the company-controlled pricing insured that every miner would soon be hopelessly in debt to his employer. Indeed, the coal companies asserted that a miner’s debt was by extension his family’s debt and that, until it was paid…
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