What do coal mining and tax cuts for the wealthy have in common? Both are economic injustices that favor the wealthy, burden low-income people, and add to the imbalance of our economy.
Last week, nearly 2,000 protesters traveled from Appalachia to Washington, D.C. to demand an end to the mountaintop removal, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), a member of UFE’s Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative.
For years, state and federal policies have allowed wealthy coal companies to use explosives to remove the tops of mountains to extract coal. In Appalachia, wealthy coal companies are literally moving mountains to access the precious resources beneath them, leaving life-long residents of the surrounding communities with barren fields and dried up streams.
In response to these unjust practices, citizens of the Appalachian region descended upon Washington, D.C. to demand an end to the harmful mountaintop removal practices that are irreversibly destructing their natural resources. Although the protest was peaceful -- a celebration of Appalachian culture and natural resources -- over 100 protesters were arrested in front of the White House for civil disobedience.
Mountaintop removal is an all-too-common example of how, when a low-income community and a wealthy corporation go head-to-head, the corporation with the biggest bank account wins almost every time. Just as our tax policies have been designed to favor the wealthy, our environmental policies are too often crafted with little concern for the well being of low-income communities.
Does this sound eerily familiar to the slash-and-burn approach of our big banks?
Our economic and environmental issues cannot be dealt with in a vacuum. Creating a fair economy means taking a holistic approach to designing policies that allow all people to flourish, despite the size of their bank account. This means being able to make ends meet and trusting that the natural beauty of ones’ local environment will not be destroyed in the name of short-sighted corporate greed.
Just as mountaintop removal causes devastation to our natural resources, an imbalanced economy means our that our schools suffer, local infrastructures crumble, and the middle class struggles while the wealthy minority sit atop bloated bank accounts. Like the people of Appalachia, we must feel empowered to demand better from our policymakers.