April 29, 2010
Did the W. Va. miners die in pursuit of the "American dream"?
This past weekend, President Obama declared that the Massey miners died in pursuit of the American dream. It seems clear this statement was meant to be extremely supportive of the miners--and appears to have been taken that way by those most impacted by the tragedy. Nonetheless, I found it somewhat provocative. When those miners risked their lives daily in those mines, did they view themselves as pursuing the American dream? Or, did they see themselves as taking one of the few opportunities available to them to put food on the table, etc.? I honestly don't know the answer to that question, but I do think pursuing the American dream means something more than just being employed in America. What other options were available? How realistic was the opportunity for advancement? Was profit being generated by skimping on safety and, if so, did the miners participate in that profit?
It may be that the answers to those questions would lead us all to conclude that these miners were indeed risking their lives to pursue the American dream. But for now, at least one commentator has a different view.