There are reports that the Republican governor of WV is looking for government subsidies for coal production. My gut reaction is to immediately oppose them.
However, what's my logical basis? Am I being a hypocrite? I assume the idea is to keep coal mines going through a bad spell, perhaps a bad century, providing jobs for coal miners, at worse easing the transition to a non-coal future. (Actually Gov. Justice has a "national security" rationale, perhaps somewhat like the old subsidies for wool and mohair.) Compare that with my rationale for some farm programs: keeping farms going to ease the transition to a future with fewer farmers. (Full disclosure: that's one of two rationales I mostly buy, at least with respect to historical farm programs, the other rationale being the production adjustment one.)
So can I come up with a way to distinguish between farmers and coal miners as worthy recipients of government subsidies?
One difference is clear: farm subsidies go to farmers, coal subsidies would go to coal mining companies. Is that sufficient?