Over the last several years, watching developments in the Patriot Coal bankruptcy and resulting fallout for workers has been a roller coaster for those of us who care about the workers who risked their lives for decades working hundreds of feet underground.
When a kid snatches an old lady's purse, it's punished as a crime. But when a corporation manipulates bankruptcy law to deny thousands of retired coal miners benefits they labored their entire lives to earn, it's endorsed by federal court.
The United Mine Workers is suing Peabody and Arch, saying they can't walk away from their obligations. But this isn't the first time coal companies have figured out a way to avoid social responsibility.
Problems afflicting the coal industry are the direct result of the historic attitudes of its operators -- not actually the resource itself, or the men, women and communities who produce and rely upon it.