Incoherent stream-of-consciousness about poverty

This is sort of a guest post via the GG. He took this pic while hiking the North Country Trail in Appalachian Ohaaaao last week and seems quite affected by what he knows of the situation.

It is a shack with three plywood walls and one tarp. Generator (noisy one), wood heat, water from a spigot in a neighbor’s shed. He saw a young woman come out to dump what he thought was a chamber pot and a half-dressed man in rags also made an appearance. I don’t know if there are children. As bad as this place looks, it doesn’t really surprise me. We’ve seen similar places on other trips to Appalachia, in the yooperland, and there’s plenty of poverty to go around even in the vicinity of our own quite affluent community.

I have a lot of rather disjointed thoughts about this so this will be a bit incoherent. This pic looks like poverty to me but I also detect a hint of some other issues, maybe a touch of mental illness? I do *not* think this family’s lifestyle has anything to do with sitting around collecting gubmint money instead of working. That’s cognitive dissonance to me. In fact, I don’t know whether they work or not. And maybe they don’t work steady jobs but who knows.

Here on the Planet Ann Arbor, people who are down on their luck sometimes post on Next Door Neighbor asking for help. This makes me a little uncomfortable for various reasons but these folks are definitely gutsy. Not sure I would be in that situation. Some people offer *tangible* help (grocks, clothing). Some people offer links and information to/about organizations that provide food and clothing, etc. Some people snark. The point is that I think there *is* quite a bit of help in our affluent, progressive area if you know how to access it and aren’t too shy or proud to do so. Not so sure about Appalachian Ohio.

I think there are folks who really can’t hold down jobs for whatever reason and I think our country is obligated to help them until big alien bugs invade the earth. I think most people want to earn their own money but I’m not sure the residents of this place are able to, not to mention manage whatever money may come their way.

I really don’t have any enlightening conclusions about any of this. I thank the gods that members of my own family (current and former generations) are willing and *able* to work and know how to handle their hard-earned money. I mean, I’d’ve gone NUTS if I hadn’t had a JOB during the covid lockdowns, not to mention during a mild case of f*cking breakthrough covid. It isn’t really even about the money for me at this point although that is definitely nice. It’s always nice to earn your own money.

Of course I am well aware that I have been telecommuting through the whole thing while so many others take the risk of working in person. Heroes!

2 Responses to “Incoherent stream-of-consciousness about poverty”

  1. Pam J. Says:

    I also find this an interesting subject — poverty in the Appalachians. So I’ve read a number of books on the subject and while I may know a little more it’s squishy knowledge. The pervasive problems in that region appear to be caused by a mix of bad economy (loss of the coal industry mostly with nothing to take its place), geography, and culture. Then add in a huge helping of new and robust and available pills, such as opioids, and those are some of the elements that keep the poverty going. The current book I’m reading is Twilight in Hazard by Alan Maimon. It’s about poverty in eastern Kentucky. I’ve read many books about how the illegal drug industry, AND the legal industry (Sackler family etc), took advantage of the conditions in Appalachia to make drugs available for all and what a mess that’s caused. Dreamland by Sam Quinones is one of the many books on the subject. My thinking is that if every state legalized cannabis, like my great state of Maryland has, either for medical or recreational use, we could knock a hole in the addiction to harmful drugs, like heroin, opioids, fentanyl. That might help with one of the problems but it won’t fix the economy — unless everyone went to work for the cannabis industry… hmmmm

  2. Margaret Says:

    Drugs and mental illness are primary drivers of our homeless population here. I don’t have any answers. 🙁