Appalachian Regional Commission a Waste

by Lewis Loflin

See Appalachian Regional Commission Government Waste

See ARC Virginia Grants Go For Pork and Salaries 2015-16

Our local elite are in an uproar over President Trump's plan to defund the Appalachian Regional Commission. The first problem is most of the press in Virginia including the Richmond Times Dispatch, Bristol Herald Courier, Roanoke Times, etc. are controlled by Warren Buffett - press objectivity has been compromised. This assures no alternate views will get into print and all push the same message.

The idea is to malign Trump at every opportunity. The biased press feigns horror at "vital" services and programs so needed by residents of Appalachia, including the Bristol region. The New York Times (March 16, 2017) proclaims Trump is taking a "gamble" cutting a program his base "depends" on. The article was vague and once again no specifics, which is usual.

To quote anti-Trump Reuters (March 17, 2017) is typical:

Four hundred of the 420 counties ARC operates voted for Trump in November's election. The 52-year old agency has run more than 650 projects in Appalachia's 13 states between 2011 and 2015 costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Its programs, some launched under Democratic former President Barack Obama, are expected to create or retain more than 23,670 jobs and train and educate over 49,000 students and workers...

The entire claim is dishonest for a number of reasons. Of the 420 counties only about 100 are in actual Appalachia. Most of the funding goes to wealthy communities outside Appalachia, the designations are absurd. The "ARC-Designated Distressed Counties, Fiscal Year 2016" for Virginia only includes Lee County, but not Wise, Scott, Dickenson, Buchanan, and Tazewell that are in terrible shape. In 2017 they added Wise and Dickenson.

The Columbus Dispatch did a study in 1999 on where ARC funds really go and it turns out mostly wealthy communities outside of what people think of as Appalachia. As of that time $52 million went to Wise County where I grew up and nobody would have known because it produced nothing for the average citizen. I'll look closer at Wise County later which has been in then local news.

The Bristol Herald Courier opinion page on March 20, 2017 went into another rant titled "Trump ignored Appalachia" over cutting funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission. They claimed the number of high poverty (distressed) counties has been cut from 295 to 90. Yet the Associated Press on May 23, 2004 reported that the ARC had spent $10 billion over 40 years and "the number of counties in the region that are considered 'distressed' have been reduced from 223 to 91 since 1965." Then why if only 223 counties were "distressed" do we have 410 counties? Now we have 295 down to 90 in 2017? Which is it?

In fiscal year 2016 only one Virginia county (Lee) was designated while only nine in West Virginia - but 14 in Mississippi. In 2017 three in Virginia (Lee, Wise, Dickenson) while only 8 in West Virginia and 12 in Mississippi. Virginia clearly has at least 8 counties alone in big trouble and surely more than 8 in West Virginia. These designations seem more political than anything.

See 30 Years of Government Failure in Southwest Virginia.