Bloggers vs the Press

Appalachia Tri-Cities Resents Label of Third World

compiled by Lewis Loflin

Since President Johnson declared a "war on poverty" in the 1960s large parts of Appalachia are still third-world. Government is still confused as are both presidential candidates in 2008. Nothing has still changed in 2014 and has gotten worse. I present three short articles (extracts) on this subject as to why nothing ever changes in Appalachia.

The people of Appalachia in my view must take control of their lives. They must demand an end to corrupt local politics and end the government poverty business where "people here are given meager government aid to keep them quiet."



From 1990:

A San Francisco travel agency's plans for a nine-day tour of the "Third World in America" has angered directors of tourism in the Appalachian region.

For $500, the agency Global Exchange will take customers on an excursion through Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee June 17-25 to see impoverished families, crumbling coal mining towns and streams strewn with discarded appliances and other junk.

"I suggest that those folks could save a lot of money and get a great dose of third-world reality simply by walking through the barrio in Los Angeles," said John Brown, Commissioner of Commerce of West Virginia.

Global Exchange says it specializes in awareness tours to countries like Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. The Appalachian tour will be the agency's first domestic trip.

"What brings a place alive and what makes it so interesting are the people who live there and the problems they're confronting," said the tour coordinator, Laurie Adams.

Ms. Adams said her clients were usually students, community volunteers and government officials interested in meeting people who are trying to solve social and environmental problems.

Don Wick, director of information for the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development, said he was afraid the tour would reinforce stereotypes.

He said the "real South" included the "sophisticated and prosperous" cities of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. Cindy Ford, spokeswoman for the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, said: "If you're looking for poverty and environmental problems, yes, you can find them in our three states.

But I don't think we have any more problems than any other state." Ref March 31, 1990 AP

But in 2008 nothing has changed, except the idiots in public office. We are still third-world, in particular in politics. They whine about "cities of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga" but they are not really in Appalachia, but get ARC funding even though they are "sophisticated and prosperous."

What is confusing is what the idiots at the ARC considers "Appalachia" is done for political reasons. According to the ARC, most of Pennsylvania is Appalachia. So is part of New York, one-third of Ohio.

Handouts or hand ups? (2006)

Here we have the results of the welfare state that by 2014 has created same multi-generational failure of the ghetto and barrio.

Extracts from: National Catholic Reporter, June 2, 2006. This story is by Lucy Fuchs, a professor emerita of education from St. Leo University in Florida.

The word "welfare" is no longer used..This was perhaps one of the first things we learned as we got to know the East Kentuckians. People say, without embarrassment of any kind, that they "draw," meaning they receive government assistance.

Others are appalled that with the new rules there is a time limit on such assistance. I have even heard some healthy people say they would like to be on disability just so that they would not have to work anymore...

My husband worked with the housing crew that repairs the homes of the poor. The poor family is supposed to supply "sweat equity" - some help in the repair from family members or acquaintances - as well as financial payback for materials, on a long-term plan.

However, both of these expectations are often ignored, sometimes because of impossibility (How does one ask an 80-year-old crippled lady to provide sweat equity?) and sometimes because of other concerns on the part of those in charge of the work crew.

My work was to help people get their GEDs and to provide literacy classes for those who needed and wanted them. In Magoffin County, where I worked half the time, more than 60 percent of the people did not have a high school education.

Little was expected of students except that they learn. Other works of the Christian Appalachian Project are much more geared to handouts. Outreach involves providing commodities, donated by many corporations and businesses, to the needy.

The organization is supported by a very large list of donors, some of whom have been giving donations to the project for years.

The project's volunteers also visit the elderly, take them to doctors, provide outings for them and give them supplies. Those who work with the elderly often find that they develop real relationships with these people who may see them as their children or grandchildren.

Even so - and this bothers the volunteers very much - the elderly may have their own children living right near them who do not help their mothers or fathers.

One has to wonder why not. It seems possible that along with losing the pride of not accepting charity, the local people have lost the spirit of family members looking out for each other. Why should they take Momma to the doctor when that nice volunteer will do it for them?

...There are also huge differences between the organization's volunteers and employees. Volunteers come from all parts of the country; employees are local.

Many, even perhaps most, of the volunteers are Catholics; most employees are Protestants of a fundamentalist type. The volunteers are often better educated and more experienced than some of the employees.

In addition, today the number of employees far exceeds the number of volunteers. In fact, all of the project managers, directors and administrators are paid employees. This is not to suggest that any of them are highly paid. Still, this is no longer a charitable organization so much as it is a business.

In an area where jobs are in short supply, the employment the Christian Appalachian Project provides is useful. Employees settle in with a secure job, one in which they feel they are doing good work.

Volunteers come for a short and intense time, some as short as a few weeks and others for a year or more. Both groups care deeply about the poor.

Third World of the U.S.

But after a year there, I became convinced that the Christian Appalachian Project is not going to change anyone's life, and in fact in some cases it will only perpetuate dependence and poverty.

Instead of somebody like me teaching GED, what Kentucky needs is better schools. Instead of employment with the Christian Appalachian Project, Kentuckians need more job opportunities and improvement in those jobs that are already available...

Some have called Kentucky the Third World of the United States, and in many ways it is.

The state is rich in natural resources that are being removed and are benefiting others, not the local people. The people here are given meager government aid to keep them quiet, and they, like people we have seen in poor countries, believe that they can do nothing to change their situation...

Once again we are discovering what we found in Mexico: It is the people themselves who must change things. Kentuckians must be upset enough to want to change their own lives.

...As in Third World countries, the local religious groups tend to support a quiescent lifestyle. The vast majority of people are believers, going to a variety of churches, most of which are of an evangelical, Pentecostal or fundamentalist sort.

They believe that God has a plan and provides for everything. I have known people who would not even look for jobs, trusting that God will make one available when and if the time is right.

Others expect God to provide a home for them, as if God is a real estate agent. Whatever happens, they believe, is God's plan.

This has the effect that people do not strive to change or improve, only to accept. This too seems to be part of the poverty of the people, the curbing of their desires and hopes...

Ultimately, I learned in East Kentucky that it is not a simple task to help the poor. Even using the term "poor" for these people is problematic. Who wants to be defined only by their financial status?

McCain talks poverty in Appalachia in 2008

What would John McCain do to promote healthcare in Appalachia? He "would recruit professional athletes to visit rural communities to talk about nutrition."

If this sounds like confused nonsense, it is. Much of core Appalachia is already on government healthcare. What is his solution for jobs in Appalachia?

He "would give tax write-offs to companies that offered high-speed Internet access to low-income people." But Bristol, Virginia already has that and it's created nothing in the way of jobs and left Bristol Virginia Utilities $60 million in debt and squandered an additional $10 million in economic development grants.

That nonsense was hatched by Democrats like former Gov. Mark Warner. What in God's name is wrong with these people? The average cost of giving residents high-speed internet is $8900 each. In 2014 we have had that for years with no results. Things only got worse. So much for tax cuts, corporate welfare, and the internet.

INEZ, KY. - More than four decades ago outside this small Appalachian town, President Johnson began his War on Poverty. In the 1980s, President Reagan scoffed that poverty had won the war.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tried to position himself somewhere between Johnson and Reagan; "I wouldn't be back here today if government had fulfilled the promises that Lyndon Johnson made 44 years ago.

The moral of the story is - government isn't always the answer...You've never wanted government to make your living for you.

You just expect us to show a decent concern for your hard work and initiative, and do what we can...to help make sure you have opportunities to prosper from your labor...(government) can't create good and lasting jobs (or) buy you a house or send all your kids to college."

Also according to the LA Times, "McCain said he hoped his plans for tax cuts and expanding high-speed Internet in rural areas could offer a new path for fighting poverty in places such as Inez." Inez Kentucky is the county seat of Martin County, where 46% of adults haven't finished high school, the median household income is less than $22,800 and 30.5% of the population lives below the poverty level, according to census figures."

A centerpiece of McCain's speech was an economic initiative that would give tax write-offs to companies that offered high-speed Internet access to low-income people.

In towns where businesses won't offer that aid, he said, the government would make government-backed loans or low-interest bonds available.

When a reporter asked what could be done about healthcare coverage in Appalachia, as well as the high rates of diabetes, obesity and cancer, McCain said his administration would emphasize "wellness and fitness."

He also mentioned his proposal for a $5,000 refundable tax credit to allow families to "go out and acquire at least some level of health insurance," and added that he would recruit professional athletes to visit rural communities to talk about nutrition. Ref. Los Angeles Times April 24, 2008 (extract)

So what is the problem? to quote some extracts from Does Welfare Diminish Poverty? by Howard Baetjer Jr.

In regard to government failure, to begin with, there is a rather impressive disparity between the amount of money spent for the stated purpose of relieving poverty, and the amount the poor actually receive. In an article entitled "Where Do All the Welfare Billions Go?" (Human Events, February 6, 1982) M. Stanton Evans points out some remarkable figures. In 1965, combined federal, state and local outlays for "social welfare" totaled $77 billion.

This was the beginning of the "Great Society" era. In 1978, the total was $394 billion. "This means that, over the span of a dozen years, we increased our national outlays for the alleged goal of helping poor people, on an annual basis, by $317 billion." But the number of poor people in the country, according to official estimates, has remained nearly constant in those years, at about 2.5 million. (According to 2014 figures for food stamps it's really 50 million.) Here I quote Evans at length:

One has to wonder how it is possible to spend these hundreds of billions to alleviate poverty and still have the same number of poor people that we had, say, in 1968.

Waive that objection for a moment, however, and simply compare the number of poor people with the dollars spent to help them: You discover that, if we had taken that $317 billion annually in extra "social welfare" spending, and given it to the poor people, we could have given each of them an annual grant of $13,000-which is an income, for a family of four, of $52,000 a year.

In other words, with this colossal sum of money, we could have made all the poor people in America rich...It prompts the more suspicious among us to ask: What happened to the money?...[A] tremendous chunk of these domestic outlays goes to pay the salaries of people who work for and with the federal government-including well-paid civil servants and an array of contractors and "consultants," many of whom have gotten rich from housing programs, "poverty" studies, energy research grants, and the like.

In the words of Thomas Sowell, "the poor are a gold-mine" for the predominantly middle-income bureaucracy." That's where the money goes and continues to do so.

Ref. http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=1059