Think You’ll be Better Off in Rural America? Think Again.
September 12, 2012 in Preparedness
A visit to the Owsley County, KY website shows a flowing waterfall and touts the area as “A Great Place to Live and Work.” But according to the 2010 Census, it is the poorest county in the nation, with a median household income of $19,351. Wikipedia has the median income listed as $15,805. More than 41% of all residents fall below the poverty line. Settled sometime around 1780, the area has a deep, proud history of self-sustainability through subsistence farming, trapping and hunting, and, being in the heart of Appalachia, moonshining.But based on photos taken by Discovery channel, you’d never know it.
Located about a day’s drive from where I live now, Owsley County looks like the kind of place I’d rather be. Tucked away in the mountains overlooking rolling fields, Google images gives me an immediate sense of privacy and the desire to do some good, hard work outdoors. I envision canning jars lining my pantry shelves and venison jerkey in the dehydrator. I see a small, simple house with a Franklin stove. What I don’t see in my vision is the government.
But in 2009, government benefits accounted for over 53% of personal income in Owsley County. Given the recent rise in food stamp use, and the number of increasing jobless, I can’t help but wonder if the rest of rural America is headed the way of Owsley County. Discovery photographers show us Mose Noble, a former chimney sweep, who despite government and neighborly assistance, has no running water or electricity. His trailer’s kitchen is strewn with dishes and filth. Is this Obama’s vision of hope? Is this what Romney sees as the “fulfillment of the American dream” of homeownership?
There’s also a photo of a lucky young people getting ready to go to prom, which gives the whole community a sense of joy and morale for a little while. I can’t help but wonder how many girls couldn’t afford a dress, or had to find a babysitter. How many young people are hooked on meth in Owsley County? I get the feeling it’s replaced homemade whiskey as the new bootlegging. And I’m not surprised. People will do whatever it takes to make money if they have no other skills.
Education and jobs are scarce in Owsley County. And despite the rich, fertile soil, niche markets like organic farming have not yet come into the economy. Not one picture shows the canning jars from my vision. Sure, these people are poor, but why does it seem as if they’ve given up? Where are the photos of the thriving “poor”? Or is that something else that only exists in my head?
So for those of us who dream of taking off to live on our own in the woods with no government intervention, think again. The problems this nation has are not confined to the cities. Government dependence is has taken deep roots and is the new culture. People who would rather take a handout, or who have no choice but government support, are going to be your new neighbors. You’ve stocked food, water, and ammo. But have you prepared for a government-dependent America?