TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

February 18, 2009

Poverty is not unique to Appalachia

Shirley Caudill

Diane Sawyer’s “A hidden America: Children of the Mountains” portrays the lives of some of the poorest people in the Appalachians. And although I respect her as an upstanding journalist, I take offense to the fact that television always comes to the mountains of eastern Kentucky when it wants to write such a documentary to make it appear that this problem is unique to Appalachia.

It is NOT.

The reputation has traveled around the world — when I was in Germany they were surprised that I had shoes.

Take a look at Mississippi, which has poverty worse than the Appalachians. Look at Alabama and Georgia, along with parts of Florida. But that’s not all, go to any big city and you will find it there as well.

Having lived three-quarters of a century and traveled and lived around the world, I am compelled to say that this sort of poverty and drug addiction exists in every large city and in most small towns around the world. Not to say that it is OK, by any means!

I grew up near downtown Nashville (Music city, USA) and there are slums where pitiful children with tooth decay and parents with no education live in poverty, subsisting on welfare and hand-outs. Nothing seems to help their sad situation. It is a way of life handed down from generation to generation.

When these trusting people get a medical card and trust the doctor, he should not be allowed to take advantage of the situation and should be careful not to get them hooked on prescription drugs — something I have seen so many times. If he does, he should be held accountable! I could preach on a soapbox about that subject for about a week!

Let’s face it, we cannot fix these travesties in a year or a decade! We have to work on it step-by-step. Some of these people are unaware of their dire situation and as far as they are concerned, they don’t intend to allow outsiders to come in and fix something they feel is not broken.

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