Why Bristol VA-TN is Important to Understand in 2012

Edited by Lewis Loflin

This region once again produced several thousand college graduates in 2012. I congratulate them and wish them the best, but they now face a new reality: America has become economically a giant Bristol. In the past they fled Bristol and Tri-Cities because of the lack of economic opportunity made worse by class warfare and political corruption. Now there's nowhere to flee to.

Everything the government bean counters want to try to fix the national economy has already been tried here with zero results. I do believe in a safety net for the truly needy, but not government as a self-perpetuating industry in itself serving only those with government access.

The above chart shows not only the growing unemployment among recent college graduates, but the falling wage scales, which combined with massive debt, can send anyone over the edge. No wonder the Occupy Wall Street children are rioting for government handouts.

This has been a problem here for decades and the $1 to $2 billion spent for economic development in the last 20 years has produced little to nothing for the typical private sector worker. Those employed in the local government-pork-barrel complex have done very nicely earning far above the depressed private sector.

The reality is many of us have already learned to live with these facts and it's not the end of the world. But it is critical for low-income people to keep out of trouble and not do stupid things. There are many here that will help those in need, but they expect those in need to help themselves. That is the greatest strength of this community. The economic picture for many years to come I believe will be bleak, so it's time to face the music and adapt to reality.

Less-skilled workers will be further displaced by under-paid college graduates in addition to massive amount of illegal labor performed by non-citizens. This is particularly dire for low-achieving non-Asian minorities whose cultures place little emphasis on education compounded by the self-destructive social habits so common among the lower classes across all racial lines.

Lower class whites here display many of the same self-destructive attitudes (except levels of violent crime) of blacks and native born Hispanics. (Hispanic immigrants have a greater work ethic and family values, but the present American culture of entitlement and family breakup will destroy that in many of their children.) See What we can all learn from our Latino (immigrant) community.

Labor in this country continues to be devastated by automation, out-sourcing, and mass immigration. Companies do not locate in Bristol to pay top wages or benefit the community; in fact just the opposite. Relying on public-private partnerships have only enriched business at public expense and must end.

In the last 20 years Southwest Virginia alone has spent perhaps billions on economic development and infrastructure. An audit of the Virginia Tobacco Commission (TICR) in June 13, 2011 revealed the efforts to 'revitalize' (economically) the region "remain elusive." It also noted in regards to the $756 million in 1,356 grants since 2000:

TICR Has Made Grants With Limited Potential for Revitalization;
Well-Defined Revitalization Strategy Needed;
More Effective Governance Model Should Be Considered;
Most Awards Not Paired With Relevant Metrics;
Four (of 24) localities allotted two-thirds of funding under formula;
Awards not consistent with indicators of economic need;
Generic and Ambiguous Outcome Metrics for 89 percent of Awards.

The last in particular is shocking in that they have nothing to show for 89 percent of those awards that anyone can measure. Again to quote, "Meaningful outcomes data not collected by TICR for 89 percent of awards." They can't be collected because they don't exist in my opinion.

The grants really acted as a political slush fund and ended up as corporate welfare or funding private non-profits in violation of Virginia Law. To quote, "TICR Lacks Effective Process to Evaluate Project Proposals...Some Awards Based on Factors Other Than Merit..." To further quote,

Recent Opinion of Attorney General Could Affect TICR Awards

January 2011 opinion indicated that appropriations to charitable institutions not owned or controlled by the Commonwealth conflicts with Constitution of Virginia.

TICR has provided funding to numerous nonprofit organizations.

And they still continue to do so. TICR along with local government is giving away $50 million of our tax dollars to a non-profit private Christian college to build their medical school. The $12 million they gave to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University for their medical school was simply peanuts.

The whole process is simply a joke with political considerations over ruling economic common sense. To read the entire report TCIR Audit. The TICR is dominated and has been for years by Republicans that while screaming to cut social programs, seek expansion of corporate welfare at every turn. They have also fought any efforts at accountability.

Dysfunctional Government in Southwest Virginia

The problems with the Virginia Tobacco Commission (TICR) are the tip of the iceberg of just how messed up and disconnected society has become. The affluent here regardless of their positions on petty culture war and ideological issues (gays, abortion, flags, size of government, etc.) are socially, culturally, and economically segregated from the lower-class mostly white population.

The local economy like that nationally favors the affluent and those controlling the government money flow. Virginia is among the top ten states that receives more Federal loot than taxes paid and government is a substantial part of the Southwest Virginia economy.

The millions spent on government efforts to 'end poverty' and 'revitalize' the economy simply enrich the elite and bypass the poor. This happens because Republican are obsessed with the myth that showering the 'private sector' with government funds will 'lift all boats.' There's no proof of that anywhere.

While we can argue political corruption (I believe it's more ignorance on the part of community leaders rather than malice), the poor here also bear their share of responsibility. Family breakdown, unwed mothers, drug/alcohol abuse, dropping out of school, and lack of a work ethic are chronic problems.

The results of those children growing up in that culture over the last 20-30 years are now being felt. The elite here will peddle their pet ideological arguments to explain the problem away. Most of the time refuse to admit the problems even exist.


Lewis Frog

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