Appalachia: Poverty and despair in a 'rich' nation - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind > Free Your Mind Archive
Click Here to Login
 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 06-05-2004, 02:16 PM   #1
Blue Crack Addict
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 17,927
Local Time: 12:03 PM
Normal Appalachia: Poverty and despair in a 'rich' nation

Since the "Los Angeles" thread got derailed by this, I'm going to start its own thread because this is a subject that nobody ever really considers. Right here in one of the 'richest' nations in the world, the country that's supposed to give everybody else money and solve all its problems, we have people living on only a few hundred dollars a month in often squalid conditions, shacks, trailers, many without modern conveniences like toilets or even electricity. The people mostly live in areas where the coal or railroad booms that once thrived there are over and there are no jobs for many miles around. As Verte and I were discussing, no amount of education will get you a job where there are none. True some towns have shunned progress, preferring their old ways and keeping to themselves to bringing in business and inevitably, unwelcome outsiders. But surely there is something that can be done for these people, and some places that would welcome and influx of jobs if only someone would invest in the region.

here is a map of where Appalachia is, in the Appalachian mountains of most eastern states, though most of the poverty stories you hear are in VA, WV, KY and TN.



This is open for discussion, suggestions, criticism, whatever. I want to hear what you think.

As maybe the only person here who has been to these places and has seen it first hand, I will be glad to answer anything you ask if I can. I will also be looking for more links to stories and pictures. I think most Europeans would be shocked at the impoverished conditions hundreds of thousands of Americans are trapped in. And this isn't all. There is also poverty and despair in our inner cities and on "Indian" reservations. But don't blame only Bush, it's been this way for many years.
__________________

__________________
U2Kitten is offline  
Old 06-05-2004, 02:43 PM   #2
pax
ONE
love, blood, life
 
pax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Ewen's new American home
Posts: 11,412
Local Time: 01:03 PM
Some people have been long aware of the problems of poverty in Appalachia. (N.B.: Here I mean "deep Appalachia" as U2Kitten notes above--typically pockets of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky are where the Appalachian poverty horror stories come from.) I live in Appalachia myself, in Northeastern Pennsylvania, in the segment of the Appalachian mountains called the Poconos, so I can speak to this somewhat.

There are a few main problems contributing to widespread poverty in Appalachia, and they're pretty obvious: geographical isolation, poor education, alarmingly high birthrates, and the deaths of industries which used to support Appalachian families. Where I live, it was (anthracite) coal mining; bituminous coal mining, railroading, and farming also took big hits, leaving many Appalachians not only unemployed, but unequipped to look for any other line of work.

The stories you hear about Appalachian families living without indoor plumbing, telephones, or electricity are true--and no, they're not Amish or anything. I've not been to "deep Appalachia" myself, but a few of my friends have gone on service trips there. Some Catholic charities are pretty deeply involved in Appalachia, as is Habitat for Humanity.

It's definitely a shameful state of affairs.
__________________

__________________
and you hunger for the time
time to heal, desire, time


Join Amnesty.
pax is offline  
Old 06-05-2004, 02:50 PM   #3
Blue Crack Addict
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 17,927
Local Time: 12:03 PM
All the way to the Poconos?

Some of the places people live in aren't much better than those ones in Africa you see on Bono's trips. And there's no hope for a way out for most of them. Outdoor toilet, no running water, leaky roof, sometimes even a dirt floor. Most have no health care.

I am still looking for the kind of stories and pics that really represent this region and haven't really found what I was looking for yet. Some of you might find this interesting:


http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0424-09.htm
__________________
U2Kitten is offline  
Old 06-05-2004, 04:51 PM   #4
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 12:03 PM
The problem with America is that it is too big for its needs. We simply do not have a need, in this modern age, for employers to be everywhere, and it has become a matter of necessity for many people living in the interior part of the nation to move to where many of the jobs are in this nation: the coasts.

America's sheer size has been both a blessing and a curse, because European nations or smaller, advanced nations like Japan have an advantage that people really don't have to travel incredibly far, relatively speaking, to find work, in an age marked by increasing consolidation.

Likewise, the future of America is consolidation, as well. It is not one that I particularly feel happy to report, per se, but it is inevitable. Massive educational programs are certainly needed, but relocation assistance is also an inevitability. Jobs are not coming to these places ever, merely because there are no industries that need these parts of the nation anymore.

Thoughts?

Melon
__________________
melon is offline  
Old 06-05-2004, 05:01 PM   #5
War Child
 
BluberryPoptart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 532
Local Time: 05:03 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by melon
The problem with America is that it is too big for its needs. We simply do not have a need, in this modern age, for employers to be everywhere, and it has become a matter of necessity for many people living in the interior part of the nation to move to where many of the jobs are in this nation: the coasts.

America's sheer size has been both a blessing and a curse, because European nations or smaller, advanced nations like Japan have an advantage that people really don't have to travel incredibly far, relatively speaking, to find work, in an age marked by increasing consolidation.
I agree. This is also a problem with Russia/USSR from the Tsarist times, the Communist regime, and even today. It's just too damn BIG for its own good, and that causes problems.

Quote:
Likewise, the future of America is consolidation, as well. It is not one that I particularly feel happy to report, per se, but it is inevitable. Massive educational programs are certainly needed, but relocation assistance is also an inevitability. Jobs are not coming to these places ever, merely because there are no industries that need these parts of the nation anymore.

Thoughts?

Melon
This is a grim prospect but probaby inevitable.
__________________
BluberryPoptart is offline  
Old 06-05-2004, 11:13 PM   #6
War Child
 
Seabird's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: with 2 kids in high school they tell her that she's uncool, but she's still preoccupied with 1985
Posts: 906
Local Time: 12:03 PM
It's terrible conditions like this exist in this country in this day and age. Is there a chance the reason this is so ignored, and no one really cares, because most people think of them as dumb hicks and hillbillies who aren't worth anything and don't deserve help? People have so much pity for people who live like this in other countries but these people right here at home never get a thought.
__________________
Seabird is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 12:59 AM   #7
Rock n' Roll Doggie
ALL ACCESS
 
ILuvLarryMullen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: in the sunshine
Posts: 6,904
Local Time: 09:03 AM
Some figures for you all (doesn't apply directly to Appalacia, but I think it fits well in this thread):

Percentage of U.S. children who live in poverty: 20
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)

Percentage of U.S. adults who live in poverty: 12
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2000)

Rank of the U.S. among the seventeen leading industrial nations with the largest percentage of their populations in poverty: 1
(United Nations Human Development Report 1998, N.Y.C.)

Number of U.S. households earning less than $10,000/year: 7.6 million
Number of affordable housing units available: 4.4 million
(Low Income Housing Information Service, 1995)

the above stats came from http://www.pbs.org/peoplelikeus/resources/stats.html

The poverty threshold (for 1998) was $16, 600 for a family of four. This is an unreasonably low measure in my opinion. If the level were raised to those who make less than 50% of the median income that level raises to 19.1% of all people, and 24.9% of all children.

10 million people experienced hunger in 1998, 3 million of which were children.

On any given day in 1996 41 million americans did not have health insurance

In 1994 the united state's infant mortality rate ranked 18th in the world

20% of children in America live in poverty. The next closest Western Developed country is Australia (with 14%). Rates for some other countries: Canada (13.5%), UK (9.9%), France (6.5%), Denmark (3.3%), Finland (2.5%)

The above stats came from two of my sociology text books: Sociology of Marriage and the Family by Scott Coltrane and Randall Collins, and Social Problems by Robert Heiner




It makes me more angry than I can possibly describe that the richest country in the world has so many people living in poverty. It's even more striking when you compare us to the other developed nations.
__________________
ILuvLarryMullen is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 08:20 AM   #8
Refugee
 
BostonAnne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 2,052
Local Time: 01:03 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by Seabird
It's terrible conditions like this exist in this country in this day and age. Is there a chance the reason this is so ignored, and no one really cares, because most people think of them as dumb hicks and hillbillies who aren't worth anything and don't deserve help? People have so much pity for people who live like this in other countries but these people right here at home never get a thought.
I find that when I ask most people in my area to help bring justice to Africa their first comment is that we should help our own poor first. My opinion is that the government should be more involved as the people are willing, but don't realize or know how to help.

I think a great part of this problem could be solved if the Republicans and Democrats would work together for a solution instead of tackling these issues from two different angles. It seems that when one party gets into office, it spends a good amount of time "putting things back" and not really getting to a solution. If each party embellished things instead of scrapping things we'd get somewhere quicker.

For example, the issue of the budget deficit was resolved in Clinton's administration. I don't remember people complaining that we were overtaxed and the deficit was being paid off. While I am sure that 9/11 put a ripple into eliminating the deficit and I won't hold Bush responsible for that spending - I am appalled that he has cut taxes to allow the deficit to grow. I mean wouldn't it have made more sense to have budgeted the surplus money to start to eliminate poverty in America?
__________________
BostonAnne is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 08:37 AM   #9
Refugee
 
BostonAnne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Posts: 2,052
Local Time: 01:03 PM
Melon, I do agree that consolidation would benefit rural poverty. It makes sense that there would be more jobs to be found and also more assistance if they move to a more income - blended community. Communities really do help each other and when the whole community is in poverty there just isn't someone there to lend a hand.

In the long run though, the size of our country should not matter. We are connected so easily via internet, cell phone etc. That home offices should allow people to be anywhere they want and still make a decent living.
__________________
BostonAnne is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 09:36 AM   #10
War Child
 
Seabird's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: with 2 kids in high school they tell her that she's uncool, but she's still preoccupied with 1985
Posts: 906
Local Time: 12:03 PM
It would be a sad thing if it led to taking away these people's independence, or their homes by forcing them to move. It reeks of the reforms in Romania under Ceaucescu (sp?) where farmers were forced from their homes, houses razed, and everyone made to live in regional high rises built in fields. They were all forced to work government controlled farmland for the common good of the group. That failed miserably, but the houses and small towns lost to that cannot be brought back.
__________________
Seabird is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 11:30 AM   #11
Blue Crack Addict
 
verte76's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: hoping for changes
Posts: 23,331
Local Time: 05:03 PM
My grandfather was born in the heart of Appalachia, in West Virginia. The family left and moved to Florida in 1913 when he was a kid. His father had been a harness maker. The business folded and he moved the famiy to Clarksburg where he worked as an insurance clerk. Then he died prematurely of septicemia. His mother supported seven children on a schoolteacher's salary. Grandpa, as we called him, only visited West Virginia four times before his death. No one in the family ever went back to live. All through the twentieth century West Virginia was a state you left, not one that you moved to. Possibly the issue in Appalachia that raises the most controversy is the high birthrate. I really don't understand why so many of the women don't want to use birth control. They are not Catholics. I heard about a family in Virginia where the father only made $70 a month and they had *ten* children. A controversy began over this family when the oldest girl made a low score on an IQ test. She was functionally illiterate. The state wanted her to use birth control. She didn't want to. This is confusing and frustrating. It's like they don't want to break the cycle of poverty. They want to start having babies when they are sixteen or so, and keep having them. I am against using force with these people. So the question is why do they not *want* to use birth control?
__________________
verte76 is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 11:44 AM   #12
War Child
 
Seabird's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: with 2 kids in high school they tell her that she's uncool, but she's still preoccupied with 1985
Posts: 906
Local Time: 12:03 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
This is confusing and frustrating. It's like they don't want to break the cycle of poverty. They want to start having babies when they are sixteen or so, and keep having them. I am against using force with these people. So the question is why do they not *want* to use birth control?
The same can be, and is often said, of poor blacks in the ghetto. When my daughter was in kindergarten, she had a boy in her class who was the tenth of eleven children, and his mother was only 31. Another classmate lived with her grandmother who was only 35! It's something nobody wants to say, but for some families, more babies= more welfare money. I'm going to get myself into even more trouble now by saying there are families from Mexico who come here just for the welfare money. One person crosses the Rio Grande, has a child born an American citizen, then bring in 50 more relatives to go on the dole. These things really do happen. The cycle of poverty crosses all cultural lines. The people of Appalachia are almost all whites of European ancestry.

Another factor is tradition. Some people among these mountain people, inner city ghetto, and hispanic immigrants have a strong old fashioned sense of family. Some of them have been raised that you are supposed to want to get married young and raise a large family of your own. They simply don't have the same desire some other people do to go to college, have a career, live in the suburbs and drive a minivan with 2.1 children inside. While their choice of lifestyle worked fine in earlier times of a mostly agrarian society, it doesn't help them much to function on a high level in the modern world.

There is no easy answer. I am upset by this but I don't believe in pulling the welfare rug out from underneath people who have no other way to support themselves. I read a story last year about a 24 year old black girl with four children who worked double shifts at a gas station and still couldn't support them. They found her floating in the river one morning. She'd jumped off a bridge because of the hopelessness of her life. Welfare to work might sound like a good idea, but the jobs these people are forced to get usually don't pay a living wage and their lives can be worse. Even some people put in "training" programs get jobs that pay barely above minimum wage and they still can't live on it. Go after the deadbeat dads? Most of them are worthless, lazy, in jail, or can't make a living either. Let's face it, there aren't enough high paying good living jobs in this country for all 270 mil of us to have a nice life, even if they were trained and capable. The government can't support them all. To me it's sad when some people hold 100 million dollars they will never use while millions suffer. But taking it away from them like socialism or communism doesn't work either. It would be nice if more wealthy people would help the poor, but they don't. I can't see an answer at all. Maybe it's a sad fact of life that some people are always going to be this way.
__________________
Seabird is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 12:54 PM   #13
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 12:03 PM
Quote:
Originally posted by Seabird
It would be a sad thing if it led to taking away these people's independence, or their homes by forcing them to move. It reeks of the reforms in Romania under Ceaucescu (sp?) where farmers were forced from their homes, houses razed, and everyone made to live in regional high rises built in fields. They were all forced to work government controlled farmland for the common good of the group. That failed miserably, but the houses and small towns lost to that cannot be brought back.
I am not arguing for this to happen, but allow me to play "Devil's Advocate."

Yes, under communism, there was a lot of forced relocation, but, looking into the climate of when communism was implemented--the 1920s-1940s--they had to deal with a lot of poverty. Forced relocation is certainly, from our POV, ethically repugnant, helped many of these people go from literally a peasant existence to future generations of productive individuals. In some instances, the fall of communism had proved to be detrimental, in one instance. Gypsies, under communism in Romania, were forced to settle down, and were employed. Since then, perhaps due to bigotry that exists in the private sector, they have become unemployed and have started wandering again.

But now let me go to an example that I advocate more towards:

During the 1930s, with the Great Depression, FDR had to deal with rampant unemployment, and, probably realizing that there had to be something for these people to do, did implement a massive public works system. Sure, the system is most remembered for implementing Social Security and welfare, but a lot of people did find work through the WPA temporarily. While it certainly didn't end the unemployment crisis, it gave people a lot more skills and got a lot of important structures built in the U.S.

Basically, I'm unsure as to exactly what to do, but there should be a comprehensive program to both educate these people and to give them dignity. Relocation, afterwards, may be an inevitability, solely because they will eventually choose to relocate themselves. The older generations might be too late for this, but this is not the group I'm aiming this towards, necessarily, but for the youth. Future generations can be better molded, if proper programs are put into place.

Melon
__________________
melon is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 12:55 PM   #14
Blue Crack Addict
 
verte76's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: hoping for changes
Posts: 23,331
Local Time: 05:03 PM
I know some people, Hispanics in particular, who are Catholic and don't want to use birth control. It's OK for the ones I know, however. In most of these families both parents work. In households where only one parent works he (and it's always the man, these people are very traditional) makes at least a decent living. But Appalachians are not Hispanic and not Catholic. They are mostly of Scotch-Irish descent, and Protestant by religion. I think the resistance to birth control there is different. It's instinctual, not institutional. I have never given birth to a child, so I don't know anything about the emotions. It's been said that having children makes some women feel empowered. Some women do have babies for the welfare payments. But some almost seem to feel like childbearing is their right, and they'll be damned if anyone is going to get in the way. Perhaps they feel like that is the only role for them, as childbearers and nurturers. These people are deeply traditional. Their religion tends to be a very conservative, perhaps fundamentalist, Christianity, and they haven't changed their way of looking at the world since my folks were making harnesses and joining the Prohibitionist Party in West Virginia. This includes very conservative views about the role of women in society.
__________________
verte76 is offline  
Old 06-06-2004, 01:00 PM   #15
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 12:03 PM
http://www.cviog.uga.edu/Projects/ga...DRarticle4.htm

Quote:
The New Deal offered a means of combatting the depression, a task beyond the resources of Atlanta's private charities and city government. It also provided an opportunity to build long-needed community facilities, including a sewer system, public housing, and improved streets, schools, and hospitals.
We still have many parts of this nation that could use much of this. Perhaps a program could be put into place to allow them to build up their own communities. For me, "dignity" is something that needs to be emphasized, along with assistance. Sending in outsiders to build up everything for them will not help, IMO.

Melon
__________________

__________________
melon is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:03 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com