Idaho – It's good to go back to basics which, for this reporter, is just plain writing about things I see and hear. For the past dozen years
I've been a “non-ferrous
reporter” for a number of publications, both print and web-based, ranging from creakingly establishment McGraw-Hill to the out-there-in-the-ozone
websites like LeMetropole Cafe. It's been a fun ride.
But you can't really
properly, old-school-reporter-style, get cranky covering a mining company's conference call on third-quarter
earnings. It's pretty cut-and-dried, garbage in and out, although I did fly off the handle during a Barrick Gold
Corporation earnings conference
call a few years back when
they laughed off the
notion that shorting a
trillion dollars worth of gold at
$300, when the price was thrice that
at the time, was dumb.
But Barrick is still
around, so am I, and it only cost $125 to replace the telephone handset and the window I flung it through.
Writing about “non-ferrous
metals equities” with all its dull and technical drabble has, however, blessed me with a front-row seat on the world and equally has blessed me with introductions to the finest
men and women on the planet.
Because to write
about “non-ferrous metals
equities” means you're writing about silver, gold, copper, lead and
zinc miners, and they are
the best. Whether they
are hustling money at the
annual investment conferences in Zurich, London, Toronto or Beijing I
attend, standing their ground
against the continued assault by the EPA on property rights in Kellogg, or drilling
a heading a mile underground, they
are the most unusual and most decent people I have ever met. For every charlatan who works this
trade there are 1,000 others doing decent, honourable labour, and
in their toils to make a living or get rich, they enrich
Do I really need to tell the silver story here in Shoshone County, the self-proclaimed silver capital of the world? (Well,
maybe excluding Mexico
and Bolivia, but what does
a chamber of commerce care for such
nuances?) We have a silver
mining industry here because hustlers120 years ago were
able to raise capital to build
the first mines, and we have a silver
industry now because good people continue to produce
silver for a wage, and promoters continue to hustle
money to keep the mines going.
I find what miners
do here, and what miners in Canada, China, Africa,
and Central and South America do, fascinating and honourable. The
purveyors of products and
services, indeed our very economies stand on the shoulders of miners. It's too bad
this simple fact of life,
that if it can't be grown
it's got to be mined, is
not taught in our local schools.
You couldn't start your car without the labour of
a silver miner; your fridge wouldn't run, your washing
machine would quit and your computers and cell phones would be so
much detritus. When the late Hank SiJohn of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe did his
best ticked-off Indian
routine up at the Star Mine dump to pump up support for our EPA/Superfund hegemony two decades ago,
I wondered if he had ever wondered
where the zinc for the bumpers
on his gigantic Buick had come from. Most likely out of that mine portal he was standing below.
But this rant will
not be about mining, at least not always. Nor will it
always be about the EPA bumpkins who have squatted in our neck of the woods like a deranged and disagreeable
relative who won't ever leave your
guest room, despite numerous broad hints, and demands regular meals served in bed.
We'll leave local politics out of this
conversation as well – for the most part. If you want my opinions, read the Letters to the Editor column. But I do miss our old politicians: Fred Cantamessa. George Gieser. Bill
Noyen. Lou Horvath. Bill Lytle.
Vern Lannen. God rest their
souls. As a young
reporter-slash-editor I could walk
in to the county commissioners'
den and get honest answers, and a lively dialogue would ensue. I remember the weekly phone hook-up at the Kellogg Chamber meeting, engineered by
Ray Chapman, when Lou, Bill and Vern
would fill us in on the shenanigans in Boise. I remember
driving to Wallace from
“up the river” and maybe killing a grouse along the way, gutting it, stuffing into a bread-sack, and keeping it cool in the county's pop machine while I walked my rounds.
I remember when there was a cigarette machine at the bottom of the county courthouse steps, instead of a signed scolding not to get near that
marble facade with a fag lit within 20 paces. (Heck, I'm even
old enough to remember when the airlines gave you a little pack of Winston cigarettes to smoke
after your in-flight meal and let every curious kid up to the cockpit to help drive those great, beastly DC-6Bs and Lockheed Connies,
fueled-up with 130-octane
avgas stored right underneath all those cigarette smokers, and even if you were just
seven years old, you wore
a tie to fly. Back then, the airlines might not let a slob onto one
of their mighty liners,
but they certainly wouldn't balk at a nail-clipper or a personal handgun.)
We are living in a much
When did the
policeman cease to be your friend and become instead your lurking law-enforcer, hiding behind a rock to catch you committing a victimless
When did adults start needing to supervise a kids' game
of pick-up or scrub?
When did cops feel the need to break up a
high-school homecoming bonfire?
When did kids getting into a rock-or fist-throwing event with the kids up the street become a crime, requiring expulsion and counselling?
Or for that matter, when did kids become encouraged to snitch on their parents at school for smoking a wild herb? Or to feel good about
themselves even when their study
habits were sloppy and by
Grade 12 they still could not write a simple declarative sentence?
When did a cabal of private and unaccountable banksters get to decide what our
wages might buy?
When did miners need the permission of a
multitude of unelected and unaccountable
government-crats just to
do their jobs?
Well, the last two
answers are easy: it was in
1913, when the Federal
Reserve, under Woodrow
Wilson but OK'd by Congress,
was established and began to poison our wages, and took over our money. The Great Depression
and the income tax ensued. And of course it was in 1971 when
that foulest of U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon, created
the EPA, and in 1979, when
the second most-foul of presidents,
Jimmy Carter, created Superfund.
question is not really When, but Why? Perhaps in these upcoming weekly peregrinations, we can discuss such
things and maybe, in them, find some
hope for this dying Empire. That's what this column
will be about.
The News-Press website is not really set up for a web
dialogue (for the unitiated, a “blog”),
but you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have a comment, suggestion, or your own personal
rant. Please, no spam. Had it for lunch.