The other day I watched a documentary about Redstone and its mining history (among other things). A good bulk of the movie focused on the labor struggles. I’m not going to name the movie, though if you’re genuinely interested in seeing it, shoot me and email and I’ll tell you privately. I’m breaking down my observations into three or four posts. This is the first. You (obviously) don’t need to have seen the film to understand what I’m talking about.

One of the things that stuck out at me was the symbiotic relationship between The Corporation and labor. I, of course, had the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. I know what happened to Redstone when the mines shut down. Labor, of course, doesn’t know that. They only know that they’re working in dangerous conditions and breathing dangerous air, for meager wages in the shadow of The Company’s mansions. The Company’s view is not particularly well-represented in the film, but it’s not hard to tell where they were coming from (profits) and had the compulsion to keep wages minimal even though the freight ran smoother when they were able to avoid strikes every three years (if the film’s narrative is to be believed).

The Company went under due to the socialist uprisings in South America, among other things. When they suddenly lost all of their investments, they were bought out by another company. The other company looked at the labor conflicts, the increasing environmental liabilities, and decided to take a pass on most mining in Redstone. When they turned off the pumps of at the last mine, the result was water with so much mineral sludge, the mining of the lake it created is the only mining left in Redstone.

Needless to say, it wasn’t “happily ever after” for the town after that. As bad as the work was, it was still work. As bad as The Company was, they passed on things to the town that they didn’t realize were there until it was gone. The city’s economy, and population, never recovered. The employment prospects there are rather bleak outside of government work.

It’s a more peaceful place, I suppose, with not much to fight over.


Category: Statehouse, Theater

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10 Responses to Mining In Redstone

  1. SFG says:

    Pretty much.

    My question is, how does Northern Europe get away with all that socialism? Is it just cultural values we can’t replicate here?

  2. trumwill says:

    Cultural values and a lack of diversity. Not just racial diversity, but also cultural and geographic. Vermont, or Montana, could get away with a degree of socialism that would be hard for the country at large to pull off. Every time a liberal shows the map about beneficiary and donor states, they don’t realize it but they’re making a case against national socialism.

  3. SFG says:

    That particular wording is a nonstarter due to some unpleasant events across the Atlantic about 70 years ago…

    Now, as for the idea: yeah, but the states against it would be benefiting if anything. Still, you’re probably right that Massachusetts and Alabama will never agree on health care policy, abortion rights, or anything else we’re presently arguing over. I do wonder if we’ll eventually wind up with a single-payer system just to control costs as far as healthcare goes.

  4. Ω says:

    You will regret the amount of bureaucratic control over your healthcare decisions entailed by a single payer system when you are older. A two-tiered system in which people who can afford private insurance are allowed to purchase it and to receive additional services would ameliorate my concern somewhat. However, I fear that the socialist-leaning people who push single payer in the U.S. like the equality of misery that would be created by outlawing private insurance Canadian-style (at least, that was how Canadian insurance worked at least up until the last few years).

  5. trumwill says:

    Well yes, the wording doesn’t quite work.

    We’ll end up with a single-payer when every other option has been exhausted. It’s hardly the case that that’s the only destination. Many of the vaunted European countries have gotten by with something else, so maybe we can, too.

    It’s also far from clear that single-payer will actually fix our problems. I actually wish the solution were that simple.

  6. A4 says:

    I look forward to more posts on the industrial history of Redstone.

    This reminds of two things. First, a trip along the Blackstone River in Rhode Island and Massachusetts a few years back. That’s really the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and the American textile industry. There are several places to visit, The overall theme seemed to be “those jobs were horrible – and the really terrible thing is that they are gone.”

    Second, Union strategy in that same context, or in Redstone, or for large manufacturing. To the extent unions are trying to extract some of the surplus from an industrial firm, how much should they try to get? As much as they can, which can cause the firm to be less competitive and eventually lose those jobs? Or, a sustainable amount, so you extract less annually over a longer period of time? That might be a hard option to choose. Companies can waste money pretty aggressively.

    A4

  7. trumwill says:

    “those jobs were horrible – and the really terrible thing is that they are gone.”

    That is a spectacular way of putting it.

  8. SFG says:

    It’s interesting. Eastern MA has managed to extract the intellectual capital of MIT to actually rebuild itself–Boston is looking pretty nice these days. Western MA and RI, not so much.

  9. SFG says:

    BTW, you’ve got ‘unrisings’ not ‘uprisings’. I mention this because ‘unrising’ strikes me as the sort of fortuitous coinage that could be repurposed…maybe as a lack of uprisings, or the collapse of an uprising.

  10. trumwill says:

    Thanks. I think I got mixed between “unrest” and “uprising.”

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