Appalachian Roots

I am from Appalachia, central Appalchia to be exact. Northeastern Kentucky to be even more exact. My roots have a bit of a split personality. Part Appalachian, part Swedish! What a combination which probably accounts for my split personality and eccentric leanings. Someday, I will write about my Swedish family. Now I want to write about Appalachia. Appalachia breaks my heart.

I have always lived geographically close to Appalachia and spent almost 30 years teaching students who came from the region. I did not grow up deep in the heart of Appalachia but I frequently visited my grandparents and other family who lived in the Central Appalachian region. As I grew up, their culture was my culture, their values were my values, their way of life was my way of life. By the time I was becoming a teenager, Appalachia’s best days were behind it but I didn’t know it. My grandfather had worked hard to insure that his eight children, including my mother, had left the region in order to get an education and seek their fortunes. One had to go elsewhere for an education. There were only two universities reasonably close by and the terrain of the region is geographically isolating.

Poverty was the calling card of the region. My grandfather was a landowner, a successful farmer, and had gas and oil wells on the rich land. When I looked out his front door, I saw acres of corn and tobacco growing and many dairy cattle grazing. He was the exception not the rule. He refused to let his family work in the coal mines, but coal mining was one of the principal industries. Much of the region is not suited for farming as it is too mountainous. Manufacturers did not bring their industries to Eastern Kentucky. There were no good roads.

The people opposed interference from outside the region. They feared that their culture would be taken away, their way of life stolen, their children corrupted. They feared cultural change more than they feared poverty.

My grandparents are gone now but the old farmhouse still stands. Do you know what I see when I look out the door now? Trailer parks. Very poor, hopeless people. Children playing in the dirt yards. Starving dogs surviving on table scraps tied out in the yard. I know enough about the area to know what lies within some of those trailers. Drugs. Heroin. Pain pills. In that county, there is little economic activity with around a 33% unemployment rate. Farming is gone. The gas and oil wells still pump but the owners of the mineral rights live far away or the mineral rights were unfortunately sold along with the land. The people lost their way of life but not to manufacturers or education. They lost it to drugs and poverty.

Appalachia breaks my heart. #appalachia #poverty #drug abuse

Watch this space for much more on Appalachia.




Will the Economy Affect the Presidential Election?

I’m tired of the word “circus” when describing the 2016 Presidential election. It’s much worse than a circus as the connotation of that word is an event that includes fun and games. Even though the whole thing has seemed funny at times, the future of our country is at stake. When we finish laughing, suddenly it seems very serious. Will the current state of our economy affect the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election? In a perfect world, the voters would be looking at issues like the jobs report, inflation, interest rates, and a myriad of foreign policy issues. Have we heard much or anything about those issues this year? Not so much.

Oh, you can argue that we hear about foreign policy but all we hear is about terrorism and a little about immigration. Both are crucial issues but do we hear any real plans for either? Nothing sustainable. We already have immigration laws on the books that are not being enforced. We hear about a wall that may be built if a certain candidate is elected. The only thing we seem to know to do about terrorism outside of our borders seems to involve way too many innocent people.

Regarding domestic policy, there is very little discussion of policy positions except those that are either ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative which may not represent the majority of the American people.

I have heard little about the fact that, instead of rising, the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. fell by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2016. In 2015, the pundits were predicting a roaring 2016 economy. Not happening. The job market. Last fall, we reached a 40 year low of the number of Americans participating in the job market at 62.4%. That has gone up slightly to 62.9%. Even though we added over 200,000 jobs during March 2016, the jobs are simply replacing jobs long since lost. Inflation. Core inflation increased 2.2% on an annual basis in March 2016 and 2.3% annually in February. Not much talk about these key issues that affect each of us.

Instead we get slogans and platitudes. Mudslinging and name calling.

Is the state of our economy really affecting the election? People certainly seem angry. Is what they are angry about……wages that don’t cover expenses, high cost of health insurance, terrorism….just to name a few….really something any of the candidates can do much about? Or has it all gone too far? Food for thought. #Hillary #Trump #presidentialelection #economy

Analytical or Creative?

I have been a writer all of my life, taking time out to be a college professor for most of 30 years. Even then, I wrote about my field for the popular press, usually not cool for the academician, and I also engaged in academic writing as a good a ademician should. Never got around to the creative stuff, though it was always in my head.

Now that I am writing freelance, I am going to do both…..some creative writing for my own pleasure like this essay. Who knows, maybe I can even get a publisher interested.

I have to keep food on the table, so my analysis and reporting of the goings on in business and business finance will continue. It’s fascinating, particularly in this new political climate in which we find ourselves. Big economic implications will arise. I will try to make sense of all of that and more. Here is my latest article on startups. I may even try my hand at a few ebooks.

Please comment and let’s have a conversation. I will enjoy getting to know you. Come back often.