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| | |-+  50 Years into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back
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Author Topic: 50 Years into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back  (Read 414 times)
RogueBeaver
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« on: April 21, 2014, 09:49:47 am »
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Long read from the NYT on McDowell Co., WV.
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 11:14:48 am »

The sad fact is that McDowell County needs to downsize even more.  That's the biggest failure of our various anti-poverty programs, they fail to give people the assistance they need to successfully get out of communities whose economic reason for being has ended, yet they give them just enough to survive and produce another generation that will end up in the same trap their parents are in.   Back before coal mining began in the 1880s, the population of McDowell was under 5,000.  I don't think it needs to get that small, but if they transition to a rural tourism economy, they probably don't need but about 10,000 people in the county, less than half of what is there now.
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 11:51:23 am »
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People have been moving out of American poverty for decades.  Now they simply move from poor places  unprepared for diminished opportunities.

There are evidently good people in McDowell County... so what. So it is in every slum or barrio. The county is going to experience a brain drain of people with education and entrepreneurial talent for Columbus, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte.

The economic base for such prosperity as there was (coal mining) has all but vanished. 
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King
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 11:57:02 am »
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The sad fact is that McDowell County needs to downsize even more.  That's the biggest failure of our various anti-poverty programs, they fail to give people the assistance they need to successfully get out of communities whose economic reason for being has ended, yet they give them just enough to survive and produce another generation that will end up in the same trap their parents are in.   Back before coal mining began in the 1880s, the population of McDowell was under 5,000.  I don't think it needs to get that small, but if they transition to a rural tourism economy, they probably don't need but about 10,000 people in the county, less than half of what is there now.

It would incredibly hard, even in New Deal times, to sell people on the idea of a welfare program for helping people move to new cities.
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 02:39:01 pm »

The sad fact is that McDowell County needs to downsize even more.  That's the biggest failure of our various anti-poverty programs, they fail to give people the assistance they need to successfully get out of communities whose economic reason for being has ended, yet they give them just enough to survive and produce another generation that will end up in the same trap their parents are in.   Back before coal mining began in the 1880s, the population of McDowell was under 5,000.  I don't think it needs to get that small, but if they transition to a rural tourism economy, they probably don't need but about 10,000 people in the county, less than half of what is there now.

It would incredibly hard, even in New Deal times, to sell people on the idea of a welfare program for helping people move to new cities.

True.  If the solution were easy politically, it would have been implemented long before.  Tho in a sense that is what the homesteading program was all about.
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 07:59:30 pm »
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The sad fact is that McDowell County needs to downsize even more.  That's the biggest failure of our various anti-poverty programs, they fail to give people the assistance they need to successfully get out of communities whose economic reason for being has ended, yet they give them just enough to survive and produce another generation that will end up in the same trap their parents are in.   Back before coal mining began in the 1880s, the population of McDowell was under 5,000.  I don't think it needs to get that small, but if they transition to a rural tourism economy, they probably don't need but about 10,000 people in the county, less than half of what is there now.

It would incredibly hard, even in New Deal times, to sell people on the idea of a welfare program for helping people move to new cities.

True.  If the solution were easy politically, it would have been implemented long before.  Tho in a sense that is what the homesteading program was all about.

People forget that homesteading was just the 19th century version of the welfare state. If you got a free plot of land of significant size, you were basically set.

In 21st century terms, it was like giving Americans free seed money to start a business.

We already let people deduct moving expenses from their taxes. Why not let people who live in MSAs with unemployment above a certain level just get an expenses rebate up front that they can use on renting a U-haul, buying plane tickets, putting down a security deposit on a new apartment or whatever else they're doing.
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2014, 12:17:04 am »
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People have an irrational connection to their homes, and it's hard to just push them all off their land. And even if the all wanted to leave, they have no skills, and many are addicts, so you're just going to make it someone else's problem?

The first thing this place needs is a free drug rehabilitation clinic. It also needs skills training centres.
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2014, 12:27:52 pm »
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I would smoke meth too if had nothing to do all day but sit around rural West Virginia.

I think that's why the legalization of marijuana nationwide is so important. People out there need some sort of drug. Honestly. Weed is by far the least dangerous.
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2014, 01:58:53 pm »
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Drug legalization would help a lot too, as it seems that so many families have been broken up due to people being in jail.
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2014, 03:27:07 pm »
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The sad fact is that McDowell County needs to downsize even more.  That's the biggest failure of our various anti-poverty programs, they fail to give people the assistance they need to successfully get out of communities whose economic reason for being has ended, yet they give them just enough to survive and produce another generation that will end up in the same trap their parents are in.   Back before coal mining began in the 1880s, the population of McDowell was under 5,000.  I don't think it needs to get that small, but if they transition to a rural tourism economy, they probably don't need but about 10,000 people in the county, less than half of what is there now.

Do you understand the concept of community? It's incredibly inhumane to suggest that McDowell County residents should be split-off from their friends and family for the sake of saving money on transfer payments.
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2014, 03:46:32 pm »

Do you understand the concept of community? It's incredibly inhumane to suggest that McDowell County residents should be split-off from their friends and family for the sake of saving money on transfer payments.

Is it not more inhumane to leave people plastered in poverty with piss poor prospects of escaping it unless they escape the area as well?
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2014, 01:12:54 am »
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I would smoke meth too if had nothing to do all day but sit around rural West Virginia.

I think that's why the legalization of marijuana nationwide is so important. People out there need some sort of drug. Honestly. Weed is by far the least dangerous.

I'd assume marijuana is relatively available, and yet they choose more destructive drugs such as meth and prescription pills (and apparently heroin is making inroads)--or for that matter Kentucky/WV pretty much tie for the highest smoking rate and lung cancer rate in the country.

The litany of problems WV and especially CAPPalachia face seem unending.  Many counties still have over 60% of the housing without sewage or septic system (meaning the waste is just straight piped out into the creeks or hollers).  The list of abandoned mines that still need remediation is unending and there has been long term environmental degradation of land and waterways (if you fish in WV don't eat the carp)  You're twice as likely to die in auto accident in WV and three times as likely to die in a fire.  Of course the article covered the drug issues which frequently ties into auto accident and fire issues (which also ties into substandard housing).   I don't know if any effort has been made to quantify a corrupt scale by state, but I have little doubt that the region would also rank near the top in that too.

Plus, the good times were never that good or else there wouldn't have been such poverty in 1960 or black lung disease wouldn't have been that prevalent.  

In the cities, there's been a recognition that large projects housing the poor was a bad idea, thus section 8 (hated by nimbys but demonstrably better than the projects).  Yeah, a rural version of section 8 seems like a good idea though the political popularity of such a program would be about nil.  These rural backwaters are a death trap for the people there, whether it's home or not, the population does need to shrink and the substandard housing leveled, the land and water given an opportunity to heal, then maybe something positive can arise.

Oddly, I was actually thinking about making a political debate thread about this last week and still might as I have some interesting links (to me at least) that I picked up lately.
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2014, 01:26:27 am »
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It's incredibly hard to tell people "The place where you live is never going to get better", and no politician is ever going to say so. Rhode Island's economy, for instance, will likely only improve if it is annexed by Massachusetts.


This is also where pork barrel politics starts to have a real use. The only area of West Virginia that's actually developing and improving is around Jefferson and Berkeley Counties, where Robert Byrd made sure many government facilities and jobs ended up (Fun Fact: It's also the one area of West Virginia that's trending D instead of R).
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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2014, 02:05:41 am »
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It's incredibly hard to tell people "The place where you live is never going to get better", and no politician is ever going to say so. Rhode Island's economy, for instance, will likely only improve if it is annexed by Massachusetts.


This is also where pork barrel politics starts to have a real use. The only area of West Virginia that's actually developing and improving is around Jefferson and Berkeley Counties, where Robert Byrd made sure many government facilities and jobs ended up (Fun Fact: It's also the one area of West Virginia that's trending D instead of R).

Yes, but how many of those jobs were filled by the sort of poor native West Virginians who actually need good jobs? I'd imagine they mainly require at least a college degree.

I had a professor in college who worked for the FBI for a few years before going to grad school and she was posted to their West Virginia offices. She never missed an opportunity to complain about what a horrible, backward place she thought West Virginia was and how happy she was to leave and how she spent as much time in DC as she could.
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2014, 06:20:16 pm »

Do you understand the concept of community? It's incredibly inhumane to suggest that McDowell County residents should be split-off from their friends and family for the sake of saving money on transfer payments.

Is it not more inhumane to leave people plastered in poverty with piss poor prospects of escaping it unless they escape the area as well?

But the economic support extended family structures provide is what makes people stay in such communities, not just the moral & emotional support. How many people, especially in poorer communities, strongly rely at least from time to time on family to help them find a job, let them live with them for a period, sometimes provide direct financial support in hard times, etc.? Not to mention extended family is the de facto child care provider in this country for working parents.

I'm not talking about lazy losers still living with and mooching off their parents well into their 30's, but rather a basic social AND economic support system families in distressed communities rely on. It's not just whether a family member needs such (usually) temporary support at that moment that affects whether they're willing to move to greener pastures, but the fact that such a familial safety net is there in that community as insurance if things go from bad to worse that keeps people from bravely pioneering to the big city.

Yes, Pittsburgh and Columbus may have better economic prospects than southern West Virginia, but if you leave home there's no one there to put you up if you miss a couple rent payments, or watch the kids for free while you work two jobs, or even to help you find one of those entry-level low paying jobs that don't pay much better than back home anyway. And if you get stuck in that situation your only prospects are to lose the new job, uproot the kids again, lose your security deposit and moving costs, then move back home again.

Familiarity plus not wanting to miss Momma and Uncle Joe isn't the biggest reason people won't leave such economically distressed hometowns. Moving to a big city with a higher GDP growth rate may sound good in theory, but it means giving up the tangible economic insurance of extended family and friends. And to less-skilled workers that known quanitity of a safety net is what matters.

The same theory holds true to some degree for poor urban areas as it does for poor rural areas, fwiw.
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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2014, 08:13:58 pm »

I agree with all that Badger.  It's why if we want to solve the problem of these pockets of locational poverty, urban or rural, we would need to offer a better safety net for those who do leave for a better opportunity elsewhere than we currently do.
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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2014, 11:59:13 pm »
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Here's the flip side of the story, people moving for low wage jobs in Orlando who clog up hotels because they afford the up front costs of renting an apartment.

http://www.startribune.com/nation/256471801.html
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