Political Pork Tri-Cities Virginia-Tennessee

'Good Old Boys' Rake in Millions While Thousands Struggle in Bristol

by Lewis Loflin

Welcome to the great community of Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee region the crony capitalism capital of America. While business, contractors, consultants, and nonprofits rake in millions in government money, the broad often under paid and under employed private sector offers little even to college graduates.

For more on that see Social Apartheid in Bristol Virginia-Tennessee 2011. Bristol Virginia-Tennessee is at the junction of the two most corrupt regions in the two most corrupt states in the union. (Kingsport Times-News May 22nd, 2010)

The Bristol Herald Courier does report the problems such as about 15 percent of residents have little or no healthcare access (Southwest Virginians rank poorly in health report April 4, 2013) or that the region suffers among the highest child poverty rates in the state. (January 17, 2012) Yet they refuse to address why, often cheerleading the rampant crony capitalism.

Those that lack access to healthcare excludes the welfare class and retirees that are covered by government. The problem is the low wage business climate typical of businesses such as Food City.

Many employers offer few or no benefits so many can't afford either healthcare nor dental care, which isn't covered by Virginia Medicaid or TennCare anyway.

For the record Tri-Cities Bristol Virginia-Tennessee includes the counties/cities in upper East Tennessee (Tennessee 1st. District) and far Southwest Virginia. (Virginia 9th. District.) Politically the region is overwhelmingly Republican. notes Tri-Cities is number 5 in America's 10 Poorest Cities. To quote,

The number of people living in poverty in this Appalachian metropolitan area increased almost twice as fast as the national average between 2007 and 2009. It also grew at a faster rate than both Tennessee and Virginia.

Tom Casteel, director of the Washington County (VA) Department of Social Services in Virginia told that "the increase in housing prices combined with increasing food, gas and utility costs has led to a previously unheard of number of people coming by his office asking about food stamps and other public assistance programs."

Local Democrats only believe in pet Democratic causes such as voting rights for illegal aliens or climate change, but like Republicans refuse to address the fact the have nots have been written off and marginalized by local politics and culture. They too are part of the problem benefiting from the lucrative government grants industry or what I call grant farming.

They talked the Virginia Tobacco Commission into squandering $600,000 in a organic farmers market that 's open a few hours a week in Abingdon and serves no real public or economic purpose. "Sustainable" has become the catchword or government grants.

DF notes the median household income is $34,741 (Virginia is $65,000), but that is only part of the story. The wealth is highly concentrated among government workers, the large numbers of move-in retirees, and business owners. In Washington County Virginia where I live (just outside Bristol, Virginia) the County seat in Abingdon is swimming in wealth driving up housing and other costs, but hasn't created any real jobs in 10 years.

Kingsport (18 miles from Bristol) the home of the mighty Eastman Chemical that has enjoyed millions in tax breaks while firing hundreds of workers is a case in point for the Tri-Cities VA-TN region.

Almost one-fourth of its residents lived below the poverty line in 2009 ten percent higher than the State of Tennessee already among the poorest states in the Union. The Census in 2010 says 17.4 percent. By race over 9000 whites and about 400 blacks live in poverty just in Kingsport. (


Note the following as far as poor families go:

Married-couple family (21.7%)
Male, no wife present (17.2%)
Female, no husband present (61.1%)

Breakdown of poor residents in Kingsport not in families by work experience:

Did not work (74%)
Worked full-time, year-round (4%)
Worked part-time (22%)

The poor across the region are mostly single parents and many are disabled to some degree or so they say so. My experience has been many get on disability because they can't find suitable work.

See Disability the Hidden Unemployment Program

I hate to say that but a lot of people in their late 40s or older have been fired due to plant closings (or downsized from companies such as Eastman Chemical) over the last 15 years and simply can't work a restaurant job. Health problems are also rampant in this population including smoking (over 25 percent), obesity, diabetes, etc.

Rampant drug abuse and massive arrests of dozens at a time make them unemployable due to criminal records and drug addiction.