Economic Stimulus?


We’ve no use for additional federal funding, because we have no desire for better roads, wider roads, better public transportation, more public transportation, better schools, more schools, better teacher pay, more teachers, better child care, more child care, better health centers, more health centers, better health coverage, more health coverage. We’ve no use for better wages, more jobs, better jobs, better housing, better parks, better public services, and more of all. We’ve no use for cleaner air and water. What the hell do bankers and corporate moguls take us for – civilized? We’ve got no use for money here in the mountaintop-removed plateau state. Who does? So, please, no stimulus, no aid for West Virginia or for any other state, but especially not for West Virginia. After all, we may not be number one in everything, but we do come close most ways, that is if you take the barrel and flip it bottom-side up:

West Virginia’s Health Ranking and Well-Being and Quality of Life Indicators out of 50 States:

  • 28 – lack of health insurance
  • 32 – infant mortality*
  • 33 – primary care physicians
  • 40 – preterm birth
  • 41 – overall poverty
  • 41 – child poverty
  • 43 – starting teacher salary
  • 43 – overall health ranking
  • 43 – immunization coverage
  • 43 – on job deaths
  • 44 – per capita personal income
  • 45 – air pollution
  • 45 – low birth weight
  • 45 – obesity
  • 46 – cardiovascular deaths
  • 46 – poor mental health days
  • 46 – median household income
  • 47 – stroke
  • 47 – premature death
  • 47 – child care salaries
  • 47 – all health and well-being outcomes
  • 48 – average teacher salary
  • 48 – broadband internet availability
  • 48 – recent dental visit
  • 48 – daily vegetables and fruits
  • 48 – overweight or obese children
  • 49 – cancer deaths
  • 49 – poor physical health days
  • 50 – smoking
  • 50 – physical activity
  • 50 – high blood pressure
  • 50 – diabetes
  • 50 – heart attacks
  • 50 – cardiac heart disease
  • 50 – preventable hospitalizations
  • 50 – health status
  • 50 – foreign-born residents
  • 50 – language other than English at home
  • 50 – residents with bachelor’s degree
  • 50 – disadvantaged students’ education quality
  • 50 – health insurance coverage for women
  • 50 – proportion of high school graduates
  • 50 – median income
  • 50 – emotional health
  • 50 – overall well-being

* Given that the US ranks 31st among all countries in maternal and child health, and dead last among industrialized nations, the West Virginia rank of 32 out of 50 US states is that much more serious. The US has low or last place rankings in many of these other categories also. In other words, on average, the people in many countries have significantly better health, well-being, and quality of life than do people in West Virginia (and the US), and they somehow have these better conditions in countries with far less wealth, and far fewer natural resources and other advantages. There is no mystery about the logistics of why this is so. They have more equitable societies: they spread the wealth more evenly.

In these vital measures of life, West Virginia suffers badly by comparison, at home and abroad, despite the fact that West Virginia’s economy (Gross Domestic Product) if considered as a country would be nearly the 60th largest economy. Given that West Virginia has a very small population compared to the size of its economy, where does all the money go? It’s common knowledge: many of the poorest most distressed people in West Virginia live in the counties with the greatest coal production. That’s why the coal companies broadcast their propaganda day and night, to try to cover for the fact that they are robbing the people of their wealth and their lives. Of course it’s not just the companies that mine coal that plunder and pillage. A similar situation exists across the US but the conquest of health and the looting of wealth is more extreme in West Virginia.

West Virginia and much of Appalachia is the epicenter of poor white America. The Four Corners region (intersection of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona is the epicenter of poor red (Native) America. The swatch of deep South from the lower Mississippi through several states to the east is the epicenter of poor black America. And the South Texas/Mexico border is the epicenter of poor brown America. These four big regions all have about the same income, health, and well-being indicators: rock bottom. The white, the red, the black, and the brown. Quite a collage, a quilt of Les Misérables: time to crack open again Victor Hugo’s unparalleled classic novel, especially when one considers the unmatched wealth disparity and prison population and expense on militarism of the USA. The poverty and distress of the four most impoverished regions in the US are matched only in the numerous urban pockets and swaths of hard times around the country where all four colors hole up unto themselves or ever more frequently mix and match, which is one positive at least. Hey, we can all get along, dollar-fleeced and trodden over together!

Charleston Gazette: “West Virginia ranks last in the nation for the well-being of its residents, and near the bottom in education, health and income, according to a new report from the American Human Development Project.”

So by all means, please, no more economic stimulus funds for West Virginia. There are no shovel ready projects here. We like our conditions rough, don’t you know. Coffin ready projects, okay, now you’re talking.

With stocks crashing again it seems even the corporate and financial players who are constantly pushing to starve the beast (aka, the people) realize they may have led the beast to the cliff edge ever so dangerously again. The people of West Virgina are always among the first to go over, these stats don’t lie, which is to be expected when you live so close to the edge, and hanging over it.

May the heavens forbid that the funds to build better conditions of life ever be freed from the banks, the global military conquests, and the corporate pillagers. Mountaineers would have to learn to go forth all over again. First on decent roads. And then along the many paths of far more hospitable conditions of life.

Or, if all else fails, then Mr. President and Congress, Please Attack Appalachia. We know you know how.

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