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Old 01-16-2014, 08:20 AM   #1
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Vast Stretches Of Impoverished Appalachia Look Like They Have Been Through A War The Alex Jones C

Vast Stretches Of Impoverished Appalachia Look Like They Have Been Through A War
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Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
January 16, 2014
If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering.

Image: US Flag (Wikimedia Commons).
Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. Most of the people would work if they could. Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace. When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas. Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.
In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey. But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic. We just don’t hear about it as much.
Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families. But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end. The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson…
Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive. With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy. In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region. In his article, Williamson described how this works…
It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.
I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article. You can find the entire article right here.
In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole. In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while. The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…
Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.
“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”
The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.
Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia. All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…
About half of the nation’s 3,069 county economies are still short of their prerecession economic output, reflecting the uneven economic recovery, according to a new report from the National Association of Counties.
So what are our “leaders” doing to fix this?
Well, they plan to ship millions more of our good jobs overseas.
Unfortunately, I am not kidding.
Republicans in the House of Representatives are introducing “fast track” trade promotion authority legislation that will pave the way for rapid approval of the secret trade treaty that Barack Obama has been negotiating. The following is how I described this insidious treaty in a previous article…
Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement. This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade. Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.
Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.
Not that the economy needs another reason to go downhill. The truth is that our economic foundations have already been rotting away for quite some time.
But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again. For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008…
Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.
Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country. The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.
So what are things like in your area of the country right now? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
This article was posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 5:41 am
Tags: economics, financial, money
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:25 AM   #2
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keep stacking.
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jay View Post:
keep stacking.
http://www.survivalmagazine.org/surv...e-storage-rack
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._United_States
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:14 PM   #5
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so do they make those for the new currency (cases of soda)?
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:17 PM   #6
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glad to see Texas is represented. Since the tent city is in Lubbock, I'll always be able to tell which direction the wind is blowing. Used to live on the border between Ft. Gay, West Virginia and Louisa, Kentucky. Yeah, there are some earthy people there.
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:33 PM   #7
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Since we're talking about where I live, actually, I'd like to chime in with a few observations.

When I first visited, before moving here myself, it was the "classic" impoverished Appalachia, like the MSM depicted, but on closer observation - they didn't get it right. Yes, there were kids running around nekkid - yes, there are more places with color TV than indoor plumbing (were, not so much now). Schools sucked (not that I cared due to not having kids). Indoor plumbing - well you should see what that does to your property tax. A lot of people pay $3/acre/year...and are reluctant to pay for the plumbing in order to have the privilege of paying PP tax as big as yours. Or, as in my case, they did the plumbing anyway, but just didn't get a building permit and report it...enforcement is one guy for the whole county and he's kinda busy - you might get away with it for many decades.

But the truth is, kids like to run around and play in the creek nekkid, and it's less work to clean up after, not to mention, a child molester would have a very short life around here (flight time of a bullet). And no one's going to see those kids until they are already trespassing - everyone has big chunks of land, everyone, no matter how financially poor in FRNs. It's pretty common to be land-rich, and cash-poor in the rural setting I live in.

Seems to me what most are talking about is what we around here call "the city". In many places there were medium-thriving city settings at one point, largely due to government secret projects, like in TN and KY, where a lot of the original nuke work was done - hire people who have no way to leak what they barely understand anyway. Those cities are now truly in bad shape - the gov money that built them has left, but the people didn't follow. The ones that were here before WWII and were farming-based - still fine.

There is a ton of under-reporting of income, I know a ton of guilty parties on that. Around here, it's easy to get away with, and no one is all that fond of even local government (even though they are a heck of a lot nicer - and more effective, than the feds). We mostly think the feds are full of it, and do what we can to avoid "feeding the beast".

Sadly, this idyllic place is beginning to fail. For whatever reason, the lure of the city if you were raised as a farm-person is nearly irresistible. So all the kids move away - and what is a good life here for X bucks (remember, food and dwelling is nearly cost free) is utter poverty in any city. So we are left with mostly-retired, perhaps one spouse dead of age (but we die old around here, checking the obits and seeing that is a minor reason I moved here). Not many kids anymore, not even drinking-age rednecks are as abundant as when logging was one of the major outputs around here.

When the last parent dies, the kids all get dollar signs in their eyes, kinda forgetting that per-acre prices for land around here are tons lower than almost anywhere else - and stable. So they try to sell the parents estate, and are disapointed when they can't get silicon valley kinds of prices. At that point, they divide the land up into the smallest tracts legal - and sell those at auction, which is fragmenting a lot of good old extended-family farms into "retirement" areas for city-dwellers who come here for the "nature", but then often wonder where's the convenience store, why isn't my street paved, where's my streetlights and so forth. I sometimes remind them that if they like those things, the cities aren't far away, and they could move back. I think some of them if not most were caught up in the low prices around here, and assumed the trajectory of home prices would continue to rise as the cities sprawled out to here - (sound familiar? Flippers.). But it didn't happen and it won't. The first steep ridge ends the sprawl - it's just too hard to build roads in the mountains, and there are better nearby places for real estate development anyway. It's kind of a protective shield, and I personally get the best of both, since the towns and cities aren't really that far, once I get down the mountain.

We have a ton more freedom than almost anywhere else on this planet. It's not a power vacuum, it's a very closely guarded open space. Not very many people are required to just overwhelm the local government, and they live here too...it works.

Lots of very well educated people come from around here. It's just that they were home-schooled, and as such, their parents don't care about the PC public schooling either, though I hear it's now pretty decent (other than the indoctrination, which is even more extreme than what I got years ago).

Most of the people who live here are entrepreneurs of some sort (this counts farmers), there are no jobs, so we make our own - something not taught in public schools at all.
Hell, I think you can graduate high school and not know how to start a business or balance a checkbook - in almost any public school, here or where you live. And if you ask an "expert" they'll tell you that you need "employees" rather than far more easily managed contractors, need to pay a county percent tax of gross (all not true), and make it more or less impossible for you unless you ignore all that and just go for it. Which I did, and retired at age 45, 15 years ago, since I'd made enough money by my judgment at that point.

It would suck if I had to pay debt or rent, but I don't - I don't know anyone who does around here. City folks "don't get it" like it says on the farmer's dating site. Yeah, we wear old clothes and look poor. Surprise! We're doing fine. I feel for those who aren't. But don't pity most of us, get yourself into as good a position first.
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:08 PM   #8
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So once again my instinct that the Alex Jones Channel / Alex Jones Show / Prison Planet TV / Infowars.com is being selective, as they try to scare us into becoming home grown terrorists or worse ...

There was a time when I might have listened to Alex Jones but his need to sensationalise and create fear in all his reporting turned me away a long time ago.

Good job weve got Fusor to give us a balanced report.
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:31 PM   #9
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...

Great thread! Very thought provoking.

Some of the Appalachia poverty may be true. But, I do see DCFusor's point though, the VALUES that most city types (me, mostly) vs. those who live in the country (which I did as a kid) are different...

Drug abuse is a huge problem though. Nationwide. Especially meth, very bad.
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:31 PM   #10
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Not all drug use is abuse. As a comic once said "it's not that they don't want you to use drugs, they want you to use their drugs". In fact, this area was really the first mainland US grower of super high quality pot...the income (and supply) from that has been largely lost due to semi-legalization in other places so now people pay high to have it shipped in instead of taking the risk of growing. It's become really easy to detect via helicopter and spectrograph. Rats! Pot that was $40/oz here and just as good as what you can get from CO for 10x that is now a thing of the past.

Yes, oxycontin (really, any poppy derivative) and especially meth are bad news. Even the really old hippes from the Haight-Ashbury days would tell you that - speed kills, and opium is more or less a one way street. But that knowledge is evidently lost on all too many.

Here we had issues with the former for some time, but since it's not a make at home thing, and since the feds have made it harder to get legit (so it can be re-sold or stolen), things moved to meth, which is very bad.

But it goes in waves. Some researcher once noticed that the example set by one generation of addicts turned off the next - so it was alternate generations falling for the traps. Meth was a bigtime issue around these parts for awhile, but those users (and "cookers") are the very best anti-advertising there ever was (and many are dieing quite young, and look 40 years older than they are if they haven't died yet), and it's dropping off on its own - not that the .gov doesn't do their little part in things when it's easy for them. I just look at it as Darwin in action. Yeah, that's harsh, but if you met enough of those guys, you might not think so. We're better off without them.

As I've posted in another place, they even visited me in a not-friendly way as I do have the stuff to make just about anything, and looked like I was living past my means, the ones they could see. They didn't realize I was making loads of bucks programming, never had to go out, and got fat checks in the mail. As we "joked" with those idiots, we pointed out that at our hourly, it was cheaper to fly in caviar for lunch than take an hour off for traveling 15 miles to the nearest burger joint. And if we wanted drugs, they were only a phone call away, and with our income, cheaper and less hassle to buy than make.

Poverty and the free shit army have a lot to do with encouraging (bad) drug use in my experience. If you can sit around all day, guaranteed income, and have little else to do...well, here's something to do.

But at this point, we don't have those types here, and most of the "drug abuse" I see is old people driving on the wrong side of the road, after over-doing their "legal" meds, which I think should still count as a DUI - I've nearly been killed by a couple of those (try going over the side of a cliff on a motorcycle to avoid being crushed by a 90 YO guy in a pickup truck). All in all, it seems cleaner and lower key where I am than most other places I've been.

I have seen some super-ugly situations in TN and KY when I visited (mainly to buy fireworks illegal here). Heck, the terrain is so lousy no one would ever have lived in those places had not the feds made some jobs there - not possible to live off land that's solid rock and mostly near-vertical.
So you have "it's whar my Pa come up and prospered" types that don't/can't leave. Those ARE a problem, and I don't have a solution to that right off. Things were only good there for a few years out of all of history, when the feds needed to make nuke material.

I mistrust Alex myself. But as Issac Asimov once said - a fire eater will eat fire whether he has to kindle it himself or not. All those guys are selling the same junk - fear - as the people we hate most (politicians). Why fall for it over there if you don't fall for it over here?
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:41 PM   #11
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I used to live in Bend Oregon not too long ago. Great place to live but damn the local economy was shit. Very vulnerable to the real estate collapse. Being a resort town and all, there weren't many other jobs. The city was clearly going down hill fast so we bailed. It says something that there is a tent city in a county that only has 70k people living in it.

Btw.. China Hat Road is the area that teenagers would go to get drunk, high and mess around at night. During the day, people like myself would go out there and shoot guns. Obviously I wont be shooting an AK-47 out there next time I visit my wife's family.
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:47 PM   #12
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and we haven't even started talking about the coal trucks yet...
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Old 01-17-2014, 03:03 PM   #13
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As an interesting aside, since you mention coal (we don't have it near here), there's what is now called the largest/best uranium deposit SW of me in coal country, where it's truly poor and many jobs have gone away. Yet, the miners voted down the idea of mining it and getting their jobs back doing so - and to tell the truth, while it's messy - it's a lot safer than coal mining is (other than mountain top removal, which has its own issues).

There was a huge, externally funded publicity/scare campaign about the dangers of mining uranium, like it'd get in the ground water and kill us all (where the heck is it now? Yup, we'd better not mention that.). Didn't track down who paid for that but it wasn't coal miners.

Not to be cynical or anything, but at least one major group of unemployed voted to remain so, and then complain of it. Not that we especially need uranium at this point, but gee, it does sell for lots more than coal, and there is a market, and it's paying work w/o the black-lung stuff.

Humans! Hard not to be a cynic sometimes.
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