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Government pork.

Issues in Bristol Virginia, Bristol Tennessee

By Lewis Loflin

In Bristol the underclass is simply ignored, while funds that were supposed to "fix" the problem are routinely diverted to what the elite want. While it's true a lot of poverty is self-inflicted, the system overall benefits from it. In Bristol many of the best out migrate, those too lazy or shiftless are shut away out of sight.

The City government simply pretends they don't exist until applying for state/federal grants, and work to keep wage scales as low as possible to benefit local business community. It has actually been pointed out that the welfare industry (in the local press no less!) is a boon to Bristol, bringing in millions of tax dollars into the local economy.

The welfare industry exists only to perpetuate itself. As Murrey points out the "underclass" is not required to change their often destructive social behavior, while personal achievement and initiative are slapped down. Business wants cheap labor and to keep it that way, while the welfare elite limit what anyone can get or cut them off at the knees when they try. The goals of the business community and the social agencies are often at odds to begin with, but often work to similar ends.



The advantages of social apartheid

From The Sunday Times April 3, 2005 (edited extract)

US experience shows Britain what to do with its underclass - get it off the streets, says Charles Murray. Britain renamed the underclass "Neet" an acronym for "not in education, employment or training". They hope to reduce "Neet" by 20% by 2010...Its numbers are not going to be reduced by 20% by 2010. Its numbers will increase...

...Nothing about the underclass is rocket science...children who grow up without being nurtured by two biological parents are at risk. Poverty isn't the problem. Inadequate educational opportunities aren't the problem. Social exclusion isn't the problem...Children today usually still have a mother with them. The problem is the growing number of children who have no father and who live in areas where hardly anyone has a father. Girls without fathers tend to be emotionally damaged.

Among other things, they tend to search for father substitutes among young males, which in turn increases the likelihood of repeating their mother's experience. Boys without fathers tend to grow up unsocialised. They tend to have poor impulse control, to be sexual predators, to be unable to get up at the same time every morning and go to a job. They tend to disappear shortly after the baby is born...

As Murray continues, "I use the word "tend" because none of these outcomes is carved in stone for any particular child. But we can't deny a problem exists because some children of single women do well. Of course, there are many exceptions but the statistical tendencies are pronounced, and tendencies produce a large and problematic underclass."

These are documented facts as Murray says. He looks to the American example of how to deal with this self-inflicted problem. To quote, "During the 1960s and 1970s, the Americans tried everything: pre-school socialization programs, enrichment programs in elementary schools, programs that provided guaranteed jobs for young people without skills, ones that provided on-the-job training, programs that sent young people without skills to residential centers for extended skills training and psychological preparation for the world of work, programs to prevent school dropout, and so on. These are just the efforts aimed at individuals. I won't even try to list the varieties of programs that went under the heading of "community development." They were also the most notorious failures.

He goes on to criticize the British government for wanting to repeat the same failures. Here in Appalachia that has also been tried and has failed. As Murray continues, "Surely we can say that the traditional family unit is the best way to nurture children without making it a campaign to beat up single mums. With respect: you cannot. If you want to reduce the number of single mums you have to be ready to say that to bring a child into the world without a father committed to its care is wrong." He says begin to hold irresponsible parents accountable.

How to do this according to Murray? "By ending all government programs that subsidize having babies. But this moves us into the realm of solutions that haven't a prayer of becoming reality. They haven't in the United States, where the total package of benefits for single mothers has not been diminished despite the hoopla about welfare reform..."

Here is how America handles its underclass: "The underclass, the most important domestic policy issue of the 1980s, is no longer even a topic of conversation in the United States. The American underclass isn't any smaller. The three indicators of an underclass - the proportion of children born to single women, criminality among young men and young men who have dropped out of the labor force - have all grown or remained steady during the past 15 years. The underclass is no longer an issue because we successfully put it out of sight and out of mind.

Consider the presence of the underclass in American cities. Fifteen or 20 years ago, the homeless, panhandlers and street hustlers were everywhere. Today they are virtually gone in most cities (San Francisco remains the exception). Graffiti used to be everywhere in American cities. Today it is rare in the better parts of town. You have no idea how depressing graffiti is until you've lived without it and then encounter it again, as you do in cities throughout Europe. The social segregation of the underclass has been nearly perfected. We have not learnt how to compensate for the parenting deficits that cripple the lives of children of the underclass, but we have learnt how to avoid dealing with the consequences.

American children of the middle and upper classes no longer go to school with the children of the underclass. For a number of years, progressive American educators managed to dilute the old principle that a school drew only from a restricted geographic area. That principle has been reinstated so parents can be sure that if they move to the right neighborhood their children won't have large numbers of disruptive, foul-mouthed, sexually precocious and sometimes violent classmates. Middle and upper-class parents who remain within large cities commonly send their children to private schools.

Increased geographic segregation of the underclass has facilitated social segregation. In many large cities, urban renovation has reclaimed deteriorating downtown areas for glitzy shops and gleaming offices. Gentrification has retrieved much of the urban housing stock that had fallen into disrepair. The "inner city" is seldom literally located in the inner city but in decrepit neighborhoods on the periphery that need not be on the travel route of the rest of us.

Most importantly, America has dealt with its crime problem. The crime rate has dropped by about one-third since the early 1990s. It has dropped even more in the better parts of town. People walk the streets of New York and Chicago without taking the precautions they used to take. Triple-locked doors and bars on the windows are not as necessary as they used to be. People feel safer and are safer.

We didn't solve the crime problem by learning how to get tough on the causes of crime nor by rehabilitating criminals. We just took them off the streets. As of 2005, more than 2 million Americans are incarcerated. That number is inefficiently large - it includes many minor drug offenders - but it responds to the question "Does prison work?"

...In the United States I have called this the coming of custodial democracy - literally custodial for criminals, figuratively custodial for the neighborhoods we seal away from the rest of us. Custodial democracy is probably headed your way. It is not a happy solution. On the contrary, it means abandoning a central tenet of a free society - that everyone can exercise equal responsibility for his or her own life. But Britain, like the United States and western Europe, is locked into a welfare state that by its nature generates large numbers of feckless people. If we are unwilling to prevent an underclass by giving responsibility for behaviour back to individuals, their families, and communities, custodial democracy is the only option left.

Charles Murray, best known for Losing Ground, his 1984 book about welfare reform, and for The Bell Curve in 1994. The complete article can be read at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article376528.ece.


Mayor Weberling falls and "voodoo bookkeeping"

BRISTOL, VA. - City voters returned former Mayor Jim Rector to the City Council Tuesday while turning down the bid of its current mayor, Doug Weberling. "I feel humbled to have been the top vote-getter," Rector said. "I talked to a lot of people and I knocked on a lot of doors. I've listened to a lot of concerns...about the city's debt and the rising costs of utility services. Weberling failed in his bid for a fourth four-year term. "That's just the way it goes," he said in a telephone interview. "I commend the people who won. It's a huge burden off me, but I have offered to try and assist the new council members any way I can." Two incumbents didn't seek re-election. May 02, 2006 Bristol Herald Courier (extract)

Update May 30, 2006: According to local press reports the Bristol Virginia City budget is again $1.9 million in the red just like last year. This is after huge utility rate increase (40%) and property assessments last year and borrowing about $10 million for pay things like the city golf coarse. City residents are angry, wanting no more tax increases.

Update July 2006: Weberling and two other city council members have left and their replacements assumed office on July 1, but not before they left residents with more tax and utility increases, cuts in services, and another $5 million corporate welfare package for a private strip mall. Weberling called Mr. Spangler's budget "voodoo bookkeeping" that involves an earlier multi-million dollar corporate welfare package for the local Home Depot. There is some question if the city budget is really balanced or was this just funny accounting as former mayor Weberling implies. Paul Spangler is the Bristol City Manager.

Mr. Spangler also got into a fight with the school board saying, "(This) is a final funding figure and is not subject to further negotiation." They wanted $9.1 million, they settled for $8.42 million, just as Mr. Spangler told them.

More bad news for Bristol, Virginia. In addition to the closing of the DANA automotive plant at Exit 7, nearby Bristol Compressors may close as well. They just fired 300 more workers.

Federal help on way for former Bristol Compressors employees. The workers are eligible to receive Federal trade readjustment assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor. TRA will assist workers with job retraining and health care premium payments. Any employee who lost their job at Bristol Compressor on or after March 2nd of this year is eligible. Ref. Bristol Herald Courier July 10, 2006

Update 2012: Bristol Compressors to Cuts Jobs, County gives $650,000

Taxpayers screwed by Bristol Compressors

Child abuse continues to rise

BRISTOL, Tenn. She remembers the girl as bright, precocious and friendly. She also was underweight and suffered injuries including bruises and cigarette burns at the hands of her mother. "It's alarming to think that there are parents so wrapped up in their own problems that they are going to allow this to happen to their kids," said Amy Williams, the Bristol coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Sullivan County. (CASA)

CASA has operated in Bristol Virginia and Kingsport for years. The Sullivan County chapter opened a Bristol Tennessee office on Holston Avenue just last week to handle a growing number of child-abuse cases on the eastern end of the county. Officials anticipate working nearly 130 cases this year in Bristol. Williams, the lone staff member at the Bristol Tennessee office, works with 15 volunteers who put in plenty of hours researching cases and presenting them to the court. Volunteers must go through 60 hours of training to work for the organization.

The organization has grown a lot in the last few years. About a decade ago, workers at CASA dealt with only nine cases all year in Bristol. A major reason for the large increase in cases has been that the organization can handle a larger workload. Part of it, however, is because child abuse continues to be a growing problem. Department of Children's Services got 2,200 calls at the last year alleging neglect and abuse in Hawkins and Sullivan counties. May 07, 2006 Bristol Herald Courier (extract)

According to other news reports Bristol has the highest child abuse rates in Virginia, while the City Council just cut funds from child protection agencies.

Crime, Suicide, and Drug Abuse explode in the Bristol Community. Much of this is attributed to the region's economic woes.

Wage Rates - Selected Industry Job Titles Average
General Production $7.24/hr.
Warehouse Technician $7.43/hr.
Secretary/Receptionist $5.50/hr.
Customer Service Rep. $6.18/hr.
Data Entry $6.00/hr.

Source: VCEDA Survey of local businesses, 2002 based on data before the massive downturn following September 11. There is no reason to believe it has gotten any better through January 2005.


A Look at the Last Ten Years