by Lewis Loflin
Once again the Ram spectacle in Wise county unfolds in 2012. Tens of millions in economic development funds, $8 million to refurbish the derelict Wise Inn, and a new $30 million sports complex for UVA in Wise has accomplished nothing for the average citizen. What more can I say that I haven't said in the last 10 years? See RAM Exposes Massive Poverty In Wise
Economic development here is about big money for the rich and connected, not real jobs for poor white trash.
Excerpts Kingsport Times-News July 20th, 2012.
WISE - Those needing medical attention of practically any sort are strongly encouraged to come to the Wise County Fairgrounds today for free services. The 14th annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition got under way Friday after even the well-experienced group of organizers was astonished by how swiftly the fairgrounds' parking areas got filled on Thursday to preregister.
About 1,400 volunteers - well over half of them medical and dental professionals - staff the fairgrounds each summer to provide a vast array of free medical, dental and vision care services for all comers. The goal is to provide health care services to those who cannot otherwise afford it, and in the past several years the Wise County RAM has provided those services to about 3,000 patients in a three-day period.
Health Wagon Executive Director Teresa Gardner said about 1,700 patients were processed through the gates Friday morning, and she expects 1,200 today. (The total came to 3000.)
Amerigroup is a Fortune 500 company that primarily serves public beneficiaries of programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Amerigroup spokeswoman Maureen McDonnell said her company has invested about $120,000 in cash, equipment and services, including medical personnel. Some 30 Amerigroup personnel are at the fairgrounds this weekend.
"It's just the right thing to do to help these folks. Our motto is to help those who need a little bit of help, and this event certainly fulfills our motto and then some," McDonnell said.
Amerigroup CEO Jim Carlson said Meade "may have been overly generous" with her praise of his company, but when looking at assisting RAM last year "it was clear they had a financial challenge," and so his company took the plunge.
"It was clear to us that after their many, many years of success, well, let us just say it was certainly worth saving," said Carlson. "It started out with us asking if they needed any help. We didn't know they were in such a precarious position. But any charitable effort, particularly in these economic times, faces financial challenges. So we were fortunate to be able to help in any way we could..."Read the full story at the Kingsport Times-News.
The Tri-Cities Remote Area Medical clinic scheduled for April at Bristol Motor Speedway has been extended from two to three days because the need is so great and this time around so many physicians, nurses and other medical personnel are willing to volunteer their services, organizers said Thursday. It will be the second Tri-Cities RAM held at BMS in less than two years. Ref. BHC March 16, 2012.
Date: April 13-15, 2012
Dental - Cleanings, fillings, extractions
Vision - Free Eye Exam & Free Eyeglasses (as time & supplies permit)
Medical - General Medical, Women's Health
Update: they came, they went away. About 1500 people were served, nearly all locals and mainly dental care. In my surveys of the mostly empty parking lot, I found only one outside license plate from Alabama.
One small group was holding placards against smoking, a rampant problem among low-income people in this area. In fact it wasn't hard to notice how many smokers were waiting in line for services.
What differs on this RAM as opposed to others in the past few years was slime politicians such as former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine weren't claiming Obamacare would prevent these problems. It will do no such thing as dental care isn't covered by Obamacare. Many of these I interviewed had medical care through the government, but not dental.
The problem here and across much of the nation is economic displacement by automation, mass immigration, and outsourcing. Free government healthcare won't address that.
The October 2010 clinic held at BMS served over 2000 and turned thousands away they claim. I don't believe it. The massive poverty of the region equates often to little to no employer coverage for those already under-employed or working the typical low-wage service job. This impacts younger adults in particular those not eligible for Medicaid. The primary problem is the hostile labor climate, continuing displacement of an already desperate workforce by illegal aliens, and numerous job loses in manufacturing. Bristol lost over 1000 jobs in 2011.
It's simply impossible to live on a restaurant or tourism job the community so promotes. This is further compounded by a business climate determined (often with cooperation from local government) to drive wage scales through the floor. "Business friendly" often equates to labor hostile.
Economic development is targeted to make money for business, not supply living wage jobs for residents, something at odds with the local business climate. Poverty wage scales are a big selling point for business to locate in the region. So the slack has to be made up elsewhere.
Also note the Spring 2012 race at Bristol Motor Speedway was the worst on record. While the race can seat 140,000, reports say there were almost 40,000 empty seats. In addition those coming to the races leave right after the race and often come the day before. In the past many came and spent the week, but not for the last few years. One campground owner complained on TV that reservations went from around 40 in 2007 to only 7 this year.
So the promise that the millions of tax dollars promoting tourism as replacing real jobs has fallen flat.