Papas Fritas writes:
Barry Levine writes that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging environmentalists to have some compassion for the coal miners they help put out of work because they can't be easily retrained to do other jobs. "Mark Zuckerberg says you can teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you but no" said Bloomberg. "You're not going to teach a coal miner to code." Bloomberg, who is an environmental activist, said while he gives "a lot of money to the Sierra Club" to shut down coal-fired power plants and to promote green energy projects, society needs to "have some compassion to do it gently."
Thousands of coal mining jobs have been shed throughout the country, there were about two thousand fewer coal miners in March 2014 than at the same time last year. Coal-reliant states, like Kentucky have been hit especially hard with more than 2,200 mining jobs lost in that state alone last year a 23 percent decline. Bloomberg suggested subsidies to help displaced workers, like coal miners, and maybe even retaining. But Bloomberg said retraining isn't always an option, especially in an economy becoming increasingly tech savvy. Bloomberg stressed the need for the retraining to be "realistic."
I'm bugged by Bloomberg's straw man here. Zuckerberg hasn't actually claimed that we can convert coal miners to code monkeys. Zuckerberg's spiel was directed at students in K-12 schools who generally don't have any sort of job much less being a coal miner. It's still broken, but not as badly as Bloomberg implies.
The peculiar linking of coal mining to Zuckerberg strikes me as some sort of political flavored, early maneuvering at the national level - maybe an attempt to placate three significant national-level Democrat constituencies at once (labor unions, environmentalists, and IT industry). Maybe that means Bloomberg will give it a go in the 2016 US presidential elections or a US senate seat (the New York one currently occupied by Charles Schumer).
Except that Bloomberg didn't choose the straw man, and Zuckerberg did.
Zuckerberg's spiel [washingtonpost.com] was actually aimed toward increasing H1B visas so he could hire more foreign workers rather than paying the going scale. It was about allowing additional paths for illegal aliens, while draping himself in the immigrant flag simply because his parents were (legal) immigrants.
True Zuck never mentioned retraining coal miners for coder jobs. He never suggested retraining anyone! His whole motive is ignoring local talent and recruiting overseas and from immigrant populations, (with an emphasis on undocumented immigrants.
Bloomberg was at least trying to explore retraining opportunities for coal miners who he is hell bent on putting out of work.
No, it's pretty clear that Zuckerberg didn't say a thing about coal miners. Nor for that matter does Bloomberg actually express disapproval of the H1-B game.