Skip to comments.The White Ghetto
Posted on 01/12/2014 9:34:36 AM PST by Jack Black
Owsley County, Ky. There are lots of diversions in the Big White Ghetto, the vast moribund matrix of Wonder Breadhued Appalachian towns and villages stretching from northern Mississippi to southern New York, a slowly dissipating nebula of poverty and misery with its heart in eastern Kentucky, the last redoubt of the Scots-Irish working class that picked up where African slave labor left off, mining and cropping and sawing the raw materials for a modern American economy that would soon run out of profitable uses for the class of people who 500 years ago would have been known, without any derogation, as peasants. 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 Kentuckys 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, womens life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.
(Excerpt) Read more at nationalreview.com ...
Pretty much where all my ancestors came from except one branch that came from Ireland during the potato famine. My ancestors (and Mr. Mercat’s) looked around about the time of the Civil War and decided nope, not marrying any of these cousins, and moved west.
Yes this is where I read about how cans of cola have become the transfer medium from EBT into cash at 50 cents on the dollar.
Transferring cases and cases of beverages from one store to another.
It's a good look at the subcultural of West Virgina.
There is a huge difference between a ghetto and impoverished sections of the country. Of course all sections are screaming towards poverty these days. keynes... what a guy!
The discussion of the low crime rate was interesting
That is the story of my family as well - lol.
Lots of White Ghettos in America these days.
The article doesn't mention the diners I go to, but it does tell me that the author of the article is an elitist idiot.
"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 $12.99 at Walmart prices."
Its not idiotic. The transport problem discourages investment in these places. The unavailability of delivery services and amenities discourages internet based businesses and services like call centers, not to mention tourism (the place is actually beautiful, after all).
Not even close. This hack has turned hard working not necessarily ‘rich’ folks who love their independence into a trite stereotypical joke. I venture to say he has spent NO time in the Appalachia that I live in and certainly has not gotten to know any of the fine folks who reside there. He has decided to find drunks and dopers . gosh what a concept cause I sure can’t find those in the big city.
This a%$ wipe couldn’t last ten minutes trying to keep up with the folks he sneers at
Yes thank you exactly
I spent plenty of time in Eastern Kentucky working on coal mining equipment and this guy describes life exactly as it is.
He doesn’t claim that EVERYBODY is this way, just a significant chunk of the population.
your dependence on so called ‘amenities’ tells me you are sift and will not survive when things go bad (and they already are).
Oh no we don’t have a call center or an internet business oh how awful. Particularly since most of those got shipped to India long ago.
You act as if no one can even get to the Appalachia what a joke. Tourism is in every state that runs its spine. Delivery services exist through out and it shows you might have walked the width of the trail but that is all.
Stay in the city we don’t want you
The draw, the monthly welfare checks that supplement dependents earnings in the black-market Pepsi economy, is poison. Its a potent enough poison to catch the attention even of such people as those who write for the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof, visiting nearby Jackson, Ky., last year, was shocked by parents who were taking their children out of literacy classes because the possibility of improved academic performance would threaten $700-a-month Social Security disability benefits, which increasingly are paid out for nebulous afflictions such as loosely defined learning disorders. This is painful for a liberal to admit, Kristof wrote, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that Americas safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency.
Haven’t been there, but my intuition says it’s orders of magnitude safer than impoverished black areas.
Not sure that follows. The inability for each household to buy crap from China online means there can't be a leased line to a call center? Of course you can say that is true using the at-home "call center" example. But those jobs are not much more than a scam.
The fact is that the rural economy is adequate. The author seems to think that progress is defined by the number of Walmarts but that kind of economic "progress" is an unsustainable charade.
I object to his elitist view of these hard working honest folks. Because they have ‘dirty jobs’ and they talk with a local accent (tell me if you can understand some one from Jersey) and local colloquialisms doesn’t make them ignorant or stupid.
SInce the country’s inception the people inhabiting this region have been independent and not really interested in pleasing outsiders.
It is the arrogance of the city dweller that is so annoying. They do not know where their food comes from or their water or their heat. They are superior in every way . just ask them
And thank you for your post. I measure civilization by the number of people stopping at the 4-way stop. Often we will just sit there and gesture while nobody goes. In contrast I get to drive to the suburbs and work near the city where they literally step over corpses on the way in and out of the store.
These people have had their livelihoods and dreams snatched from them by Obama and the other Democratic Party elitists who only value the urban educated liberals and the Welfare Queens of the big cities.
They were once a proud people mining coal and maybe even making moonshine, but now are left to trading their public assistance for smokes, crank and the Oxycontin.
Forgotten by America and denied the American Dream.
The fewer “services” the better. All I want locally is for the roads to be maintained and plowed. Hell, I want to ditch the 5 or 6 streetlights my town has.
Sopunds to me like some are just miffed that Whites are abusing the same system that Liberals created specifically for Blacks to abuse.
You're not helping your argument. 8^)
The writer is a typical Commie, who thinks they are “down” with the working class, but thinks they need to be “enlightened” to join the struggle against Capitalism.
Dang, that first sentence glazed my poor eyeballs.
WTH is a “wonder bread hued town”...oh, wait, he means “WHITE”
he hasn’t been to small towns in Appalchia these days, Some of that Wonder Bread is whole wheat.
I thought the article was excellent and not condescending at all. Having spent significant time in Appalachia (especially northern Alabama), the article has the ring of truth. This really is the way millions of people live.
I was struck by the phrase that "poverty is the natural condition of humans". If you think about it, that is a true statement. My grandmother grew up in Alabama during the 1920s and the stories she told me about how things were back then stick with me to this day. Let's just say that the average welfare recipient today is extremely wealthy from the vantage point of my grandmother, who had to raise a family of 10 in a house that is barely bigger than my living room (boys, including my father, slept in the barn with the cows once they got out of diapers).
All this without a single penny of government aid.
Thirty or forty years ago the Southern Tier/Appalachian part of NYS where my wife grew up, was doing well. Now it's decaying or decayed like all the rest of our formerly great country.
Often we will just sit there and gesture while nobody goes.
You’re not helping your argument. 8^)
I think what he/she meant was there’s still a sense of kindness there. What I find amazing and often lacking in the LSM is that Appalacia is as poor or poorer than those in the inner city, yet have much much lower violent crime.
Hmm, I wonder what the underlining factor is there?
Hmm, is it PC to answer that question?
exactly . and from NRO. Used to be that conservatives could at least get some decent writing from Bill’s mag even that hash;t been true for decades
My favorite four way has a sandwich truck (and I do mean a pick em up) and a fellow with his trailer and boiled peanuts. I make a point of stopping and enjoying the vittles
According to a tv show I saw just last night, most of Appalachians are involved in poaching ginseng root. At $550 per pound, I’d be poaching it too.
poaching off “federal land”.
with you on that
Your first sentence is true, I should not have implied otherwise. But the people on average definitely do not think it is worth an hour's drive. But there are the usual of low information people who will play Applebees roulette without realizing what they are doing.
The rules for a four way stop are extremely simple.
So easy — even the ubermensch should be able do it.
It's called Maine.
While the article points out some sad realities, I think much of it would go away before long without EBT cards-there are people like those spoken of in the article where I live, too, right down to the meth labs in the woods, the intoxicated arrested for DUI, and the addicted for petty crimes-just not on such a scale as where the author went. The suicide and accidental death rates among young males are disheartening, but I blame that on the welfare and addiction cycle, too.
Like many others here, I’m a ranch kid and have taken it upon myself to move back to the country, in a remote-and now, thanks to Obamanomics-poor place-an old resort/tourist area, pretty much ruined by economy and circumstance. None of the neighbors or others I know well receive government cheese, or use EBT cards-we work at whatever we can. Organic veggies and free range chickens and eggs are for sale/trade everywhere.
I noticed that the article doesn’t mention gardens or livestock-do these people not grow/raise their own food? That would be a start to not being dependent on that EBT card...
There are a lot of people like me here, returned to country roots, wasting our college educations doing the manual labor we did in our youth. We make less money, and yeah, I guess we’re trashy, but we work for ourselves and not someone else. The general store is 9 miles away, the nearest town is 20, Walmart is 25, the post office is 14, but we order stuff online, it gets delivered to your gate in a timely manner-and that is just fine...
The underlining factor would seem to be manners & respect for others, imho.
Ironic that it’s said that “money can’t buy class”.
“the vast moribund matrix of Wonder Breadhued Appalachian towns and villages stretching from northern Mississippi to southern New York”
I didn’t know the Appalachians extended to Mississippi.
National Review would never have dared to print a piece like this about blacks or Hispanics, so they saved their venom for poor white people. I think the main objection to them is that they do not support gay marriage, a big human-rights issue over at NR these days.
I saw part of that show, too, but I doubt the veracity of most of it. If the stuff was really that profitable, I’m sure every enterprising person with more than an acre of good dirt would be growing the stuff behind an electrified fence...
Yet, many if not a majority still vote Dem especially in WV? The Kenyan held an open war on coal and yet these people continue to vote it..why? Just to keep getting the food stamps? I don’t get it.
I don’t understand your hostility.
I have relevant experience on the matters we are discussing.
I am commenting on the point re amenities and transport because this really does affect economic growth and potential.
I have seen these effects in the third world (raised lots of money for farm to market road nets), and even large parts of California.
Build a road and they will come is not usually a false statement.
Tourist amenities are likewise. You can have the worlds prettiest beach but only some of the hardy will actually want to stay in the local grass shacks and use the outhouse.
Fine, those people aren’t “survivors”, but they are customers.
As for call centers, there are plenty in the US, I have contracted with several. And contracted with home based phone support systems too.
If the author had come to this part of Texas, his wonder bread would have been corn tortillas-but he won’t dare do that-much better to pick on those obvious WASPs...
No, it means that it is difficult to attract specialized talent to the area if the available lifestyle is unappealing. Even if the potential business is dependent on relatively low skilled labor you will still need to attract some high skilled people. These people generally have conventional tastes, their wives probably more so.
And lack of amenities closes off other things, like retirement homes, vacation homes and venues, etc.
And think about what the presence of Walmart means. Its an effect AND a cause.
I’m wary of any presentation today of rural America by urban hipster Christian hating liberal kids
It is invariably demeaning and edited for the worst
Duck Dynasty being an exception and that is how they got their audience
I will never forget having lunch here in Nashville with The new CMT brass from NYC Viacom
Looked like Occupy Che wannabes
And it shows now....
These folks detest normals like me in the heartland
Either that or you get the smarmy Ken Burns reconstructive PC adaptation
Culture today is FUBAR
Yet any urban or minority family setting will get the Huxtables or Lopez gloss over fantasy depiction divergent from the reality one would expect honestly