by Michael Maynard
August 6, 2014


Addison’s Disease is a very painful hormonal disorder caused by adrenal glands not producing enough cortisol. Addison Disease is a painful political disorder when your state keeps electing a federal politician who doesn’t represent your state’s best interests.

Kentucky Senior Senator Addison “Mitch” McConnell purports to be a small government advocate.

That is, he’s for small federal government, except when it concerns his state of Kentucky.

Kentucky ranks 9th in receiving federal spending for every tax dollar paid per capita at $2.45.

Kentucky ranks 10th in federal spending for every tax dollar paid at $1.75.

But despite this considerable inflow of federal dollars, Kentucky’s economy and government management is 50th in the United States.

Although Kentucky doesn’t place 50th in any one category, its overall poor scores secures its place as the worst-run state on our list. It is 43rd in GDP per capita, 47th in median household income, 47th in citizens with high school diplomas, and, at 18.6%, is 48th for percentage of the population below the poverty line.  Kentucky also has an extremely weak S&P rating of AA-, supporting our assessment that it is the worst-run state in the country.

However, Kentucky is one of the five best states to abuse an animal.

Of course, Senator Addison was one of those predicting the Affordable Care Act would be a disaster.

Despite the direr warnings of the Senior Senator. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear enrolled the Bluegrass State in “Obamacare” and set up a health insurance exchange. Kentucky is one of the best success stories thus far of the AHCA ranking second with the largest reduction in uninsured from 20.4% to 11.9%. Arkansas was first with a 10.1% drop.

Kentucky needed the Affordable Health Care Act; its citizens are among the unhealthiest in the country. Kentucky ranks 48th in overall health, 50th in funding for mental health and 45th in senior citizen health. It received an F grade in mental health services.

Overall, Kentuckians rank themselves as 49th in overall well being.

Economically, Kentucky is a disaster with 17.3% of its citizens live below the poverty level, ranking 45th. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

So what is Senator McConnell doing to help his state? He introduced 10 bills in 2014. Two were ceremonial: honoring the late Tennessee Senator Howard Baker and a resolution recognizing bourbon whiskey. One was a national priority – emergency funding for maintaining federal roads and bridges that was going to expire.

Another was the Help Rural Communities Act which is summarized as:

A bill to amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to provide for an application process for interested parties to apply for a county to be designated as a rural area, and for other purposes. This bill has zero chance of being passed.

His biggest focus was protecting the Kentucky coal industry against the alleged “war on coal” of the proposed Obama Administration EPA ruling to clean up air pollution.

S.J.Res. 30: A joint resolution to disapprove a rule of the Environmental Protection Agency relating to greenhouse gas


Disapproves and nullifies the rule submitted by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to new source performance standards for emissions of carbon dioxide for new affected fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units.

According to the Library of Congress scorecard it has a 12% of being passed.


S. 2414: Coal Country Protection Act – A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the regulation of emissions of carbon dioxide from new or existing power plants under certain circumstances.

This Bill  has a 5% chance of being enacted.

It is understandable for Senator McConnell to try to protect the industry that provides 16% percent of the jobs in Kentucky. However, it means that he is supporting the dirtiest form of energy, the one called by the Union of Concerned Scientists. as the “primary cause of global warming”.

Coal plants are the nation’s top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary cause of global warming. In 2011, utility coal plants in the United States emitted a total of 1.7 billion tons of CO21.  A typical coal plant generates 3.5 million tons of CO2 per year2.

Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution. Some emissions can be significantly reduced with readily available pollution controls, but most U.S. coal plants have not installed these technologies.

Despite the belief that the coal industry is a savior of the Kentucky economy, it may not be.

The Impact of Coal on the Kentucky State Budget tells one aspect of the story of coal’s costs and benefits. The report provides an analysis of the industry’s fiscal impact by estimating the tax revenues generated by coal and the state expenditures associated with supporting the industry. We estimate for Fiscal Year 2006 Kentucky provided a net subsidy of nearly $115 million to the coal industry

Coal is responsible for an estimated $528 million in state revenues and $643 million in state expenditures. The $528 million in revenues includes $224 million from the coal severance tax and revenues from the corporate income, individual income, sales, property (including unmined minerals) and transportation taxes as well as permit fees. The $643 million in estimated expenditures includes $239 million to address the industry’s impacts on the coal haul road system as well as expenditures to regulate the environmental and health and safety impacts of coal, support coal worker training, conduct research and development for the coal industry, promote education about coal in the public schools and support the residents directly and indirectly employed by coal. Total costs also include $85 million in tax expenditures designed to subsidize the mining and burning of coal.

The Impact of Coal on the Kentucky State Budget examines coal-related state revenues and expenditures in three parts.

1. Industry-generated revenues and expenditures. A review of coal industry-generated revenues to the state and expenditures from the state suggests that the industry actually costs more than it brings to the state. Using state budget and other official state agency data, we estimate the coal industry generated revenues of $303 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2006. In the same year, on-budget spending to support coal industry activities totals more than $270 million and off-budget tax expenditures add $85 million to the coal industry’s bill for a total of more than $355 million. The net direct impact of the industry on the state budget for FY 2006 is an estimated –$52 million.

2. Revenues and expenditures attributable to direct employment by the industry. State data sources suggest that FY 2006 revenues attributable to direct employment in coal total $83 million while coal employees’ share of state expenditures totals $73 million. The net impact of direct employment in coal on the state budget for FY 2006 is $10 million.

3. Revenues and expenditures related to indirect employment attributable to the coal industry. Based on public data and the use of economic impact multipliers, revenues generated by the employment of Kentuckians in supply industries and in sectors that serve those employed by coal total $142 million for FY 2006. State spending to support those whose employment is indirectly attributable to coal totals $214 million. The net impact of indirect employment on the Kentucky state budget is –$73 million.

Kentucky Coal Industry Impact

Kentucky Coal Industry Impact

There are substantial health problems associated with coal mining. 

There are a number of negative health effects of coal that occur through its mining, preparation, combustion, waste storage, and transport. Negative health effects from coal use within the U.S. include:

Reduction in life expectancy (particulates, sulfur dioxide, ozone, heavy metals, benzene, radionuclides, etc.)

Respiratory hospital admissions (particulates, ozone, sulfur dioxide)

Black lung from coal dust

Congrestive heart failure (particulates and carbon monoxide)

Non-fatal cancer, osteroporosia, ataxia, renal dysfunction (benzene, radionuclides, heavy metals, etc.)

Chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, etc. (particulates, ozone)

Loss of IQ from air and water pollution and nervous system damage (mercury)

Degradation and soiling of buildings that can effect human health (sulfur dioxide, acid deposition, particulates)

Global warming (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide)

Ecosystem loss and degradation, with negative effects on health and quality of life.

As well as the substantial loss of life:

Source: National Public Radio

Source: National Public Radio

For a comprehensive study of the impact of the coal industry upon Kentucky, especially in  the Appalachian Mountain areas, please read Jonathan M. Roenker, “The Economic Impact of Coal in Appalachian Kentucky”

Given the impoverished state of Kentucky, shouldn’t the Minority Leader of the United States Senate being doing more to help his state, as well as help the overall  American economy?

I don’t think anyone will see Senator Addison ever lifting 16 Tons, because, as his poor legislative record shows, he does a lot of talking, but no heavy lifting, except for his major campaign contributors – the major banks and financial institutions (yes, the same ones who caused the Great Recession) and the coal industry.  To Citigroup and Peabody Energy et al,  he has sold  his soul to the company store – his campaign contributors.

Part III, what is the status of the  2014 Senate race between MccConnell and Alison Lundergren Grimes?

(Note: I tried to find a picture of McConnell near a coal mine or with a coal miner. I found none. We report, you decide.)

UPDATE: The hypocrisy behind Senator McConnell’s attacks on the Obama Administrations alleged “War On Coal” thorough establishment of  2016 clean air standards is even more pronounced. McConnell’s political spouse, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, is on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Former New York City mayor and billionaire owner of the Bloomsberg LP media group, Michael Bloomsberg, established this non-profit foundation to have a primary focus on protecting and cleaning up the world’s environment. The organization’s website –, lists its many charitable endeavors, but foremost is “APPLYING THE BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES APPROACH TO ENDING THE COAL ERA”. This site goes on under its “Beyond Coal” section to state:

“The coal industry has had a tight grip on U.S. energy policy for decades, with devastating consequences for both public health and our environment. A reliance on energy from coal is also keeping solar and wind energy out of the market, delaying the move toward cleaner energy sources. However, our partnership with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign is quickly changing the game in the fight to move the country from coal to clean energy.”

Former Secretary Chao is being used by the McConnell Senate campaign as a surrogate spokesperson, especially to combat Senator Addision’s poor record on women’s rights.  If she is used to support his record on the continued crippling effects of coal on Kentucky’s economy, environment and miner’s welfare, then she is as big a hypocrite as he is.


From the New York Times Sunday Magazine of  June 29, 2104, “Bluegrass-State Blues” written by Annie Lwery:

The team at The Upshot, a Times news and data-analysis venture, compiled six basic metrics to give a picture of the quality and longevity of life in each county of the nation: educational attainment, household income, jobless rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity rate. Weighting each equally, six counties in eastern Kentucky’s coal country (Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Magoffin) rank among the bottom 10.

Clay County, in dead last, might as well be in a different country. The median household income there is barely above the poverty line, at $22,296, and is just over half the nationwide median. Only 7.4 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. The unemployment rate is 12.7 percent. The disability rate is nearly as high, at 11.7 percent. (Nationwide, that figure is 1.3 percent.) Life expectancy is six years shorter than average. Perhaps related, nearly half of Clay County is obese.

It’s coal country, but perhaps in name only. In the first quarter of this year, just 54 people were employed in coal mining in Clay County, a precipitous drop from its coal-production peak in 1980. That year, about 2.5 million tons of coal were taken out of the ground in Clay; this year, the county has produced a fraction of that — just over 38,000 tons. Former mines have been reclaimed, and that land has been repurposed in scattershot ways: a golf course, shopping centers, a medium-security federal prison. But nothing has truly come to replace the industry on which Clay County once depended. …..

But government policy based less on place and more on people might help ameliorate that trend. “Let’s say I was a hardworking person who lost my job in Harlan, Ky. — the ideal place, really, to go is Williston, N.D.,” Senator Paul said. “People need to be mobile to go there. Some government programs prevent mobility or discourage mobility.” And none encourage it: There are scant federal resources to help the unemployed or the poor in rural areas move to a job or even just a better neighborhood. (Imagine Senator Mitch McConnell running for re-election on the campaign slogan: “I’ll get you out of this moribund area and up to the wilderness of North Dakota!”)


Columnist/Journalist/Writer/Book Editor Co-Founder/CEO of Azimuth Partners, high tech consulting firm for 30+ years. Former columnist for the Washington Post/Newsweek syndicate.

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