Heart of Appalachia

If you want to see how the communities of far Southwest Virginia are trying to reinvent their economies as their mainstay coal industry swirls down the drain, check out the website produced by the Heart of Appalachian Tourism Authority. The two-person authority is promoting regional music, culture, crafts and, most of all, outdoor activities like fishing, ATV riding, hiking, and camping. The authority scored a small coup by snagging “Heart of Appalachia,” performed by Wise County singer-songwriter Kaitlyn Baker, for use in its marketing.

You have to credit the scrappy tourism team for drawing a pretty picture of Southwest Virginia, which has more than its share of poverty and mining-despoiled landscapes. But realistically speaking, one has to ask what kind of economic contribution tourism can make. I still remember the words of deceased Virginia Tourism director Patrick McMahon who sympathized with the effort to lure backpackers and kayakers to the Virginia mountains but noted that selling water bottles and granola bars didn’t generate much in the way of revenue.

Southwest Virginia does not have, and never will have, the marketing dollars or the destinations to compete with first-tier tourism attractions. The region should look to the mountain regions of North Carolina for a nearby example — and perhaps to Aspen, Colo., for a distant example — of how to create an outdoor-oriented lifestyle that will lure retirees and second home-owners. The real money would come from visitors who fall in love with the area, purchase real estate, remodel old homes, build new ones, and start lifestyle businesses.

Getting people to visit the region is the first step in making such a transition, so the tourism initiative is entirely appropriate. But the effort can’t stop there. Local leaders need a broader vision of how to convert visitors into residents, and residents into investors.

— JAB 

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27 responses to “Heart of Appalachia

  1. This Heart of Appalachian Tourism Authority looks to be an impressive effort. Attracting loyal truly engaged visitors (not tourists) can require a cultural shift. One that combines heightened awareness, emotional intelligence, confidence and respect, historical awareness, authenticity, marketing savvy, self respect and respect for others, and unrelenting effort. One that draws and shares on the true history, culture, landscape of place.

    This recalls a story.

    My growing up country wise as a kid had been mostly summers in Virginia’s Northern Neck on the Chesapeake and its tidal rivers when I guy who’d been fire jumping out west that summer in the late sixties, suggested a two day early fall hike across the West Virginia’s Dolly Sods. Driving there his fire jumping stories, their alien and exciting nature, entranced me. It set a stage for what followed just up the road from DC in the West Virginia Highlands.

    Thus, up on the Dolly Sods, those lonesome high plains with their open trackless big sky tundra feel blew me away literally and figuratively. Never had I taken in such an endless open expanse of country, its wild look, its savage feel, all that barren country rimmed all the way around by sky. That gave the walker the feel of a pilgrim’s awful exhilarating sense of hiking out. Going on foot farther and farther out into the disconcerting sense of being on the edge of getting lost or of being lost or of dropping off the map, again and again as one approached then crossed every subtle ridge line, each time passing into an altogether new unknown country view shed even as it too shape shifted into yet another view shed, all of them with no trail, no footprints, no nothing, to guide the pilgrims increasingly lonely quest.

    Like I said it blew me away.

    Months later, I sweet talked a guy into in mid January Sods crossing. Again on foot and a prayer but now after a long hike up the mountain before going this time back further northwest into that blank on the map high country.

    At the end of the first day we bivied out on frozen ground under cold brittle stars and slept for what seemed forever before I woke surrounded in utter silence under two feet of snow that I next discovered was being swept clean by the second by a blizzard up to sixty knots. It raged across those Sods for 36 hours. Our escape into a copse left us in 17 foot drifts the 2nd night.

    Our car forlorn in the parking lot of the Pentecostal church in the hollow below the mountain organized a rescue effort. The congregants going up the mountain on the epic’s 3rd day met us coming down. Later bundled into the pastors rectory, a metal trailer, they fed us hot chocolate and ecstasy in tongues. So armed with that surprising gift we fell in love with West Virginia that day.

    In West Virginia back then in the 1960s it was all there but hidden deep within a long habitual wariness of strangers bred into the long isolated culture. So we were a lucky few. That culture, so rich and deep back, needed to open up to spread wild wonderful West Virginia around in ways authentic, respectful, and preservative, so mutually reinforcing for all involved so 2+2=6.

    It’s not easy. It’s hard work, perseverance, engagement, leadership, I suspect.

    • One can travel the world and rarely find an ecosystem and landscape more interesting, unusual, changeable, and beautiful than Dolly Sods. Its winter times extremes, the ones you can easily encounter there should you make the effort, the pace, variety and changeability of those extremes, how they combine to spin off a wild variety of consequences, the resultant challenges and beauty, are a match for any place I’ve found anywhere. In the late 1960s it was all there and waiting only a few hours away from millions of people. And Appalachia had numerous places equally matchless for other sorts of tastes. This was the start of the renaissance years of outdoor action recreation. Hiking, white water river running, venture backpacking camping, and biking, particularly the more popular sides of those activities, all these began a long climb lasting decades. But it was hard back then for many to easily find hospitality there in Appalachia. How much has that changed, really? And what remains to do?

    • The backpacking camping gig and white water running combo rose like a phoenix out of the late 1960’s. But a virulent strain of rock climbing had been roaring alone, fiercely distilled into a cult, for decades. The Vulgarians with biker like ferociously had long ago busted out of lower New York, driving up today’s I-87 along the Hudson to stopping off places like New Paltz.

      There just beyond the town, and along the side of the road beneath the Shawangunks mountain front, these Vulganians and their prodigy planted their flag far with a vengence. And do it directly below the Sky Tops Ritz that had been known since right after the Civil war as the Mohonk Mountain House.

      However uneasy at times, there was most of the time a rough working alliance between the “rich” nestled on the top of the mountain and those living out of trucks and vans on the side of the road far below, the ragged assed crew of Vulgarians climbing The Trapps and The Near Trapps, some of the finest rock routes in the America East or anywhere in the world.

      And those climbers could drive up to Sky Tops, park, pay a small fee, and walk pass a lake and putting green the the Sky Tops cliffs. Once there in the early 1980s one could have simultaneously watched or climbed alongside an 80+- year old Fitz Wiessner (who in 1938 on K2 set a high watermark) now solo a route up Sky Tops within spitting distance of the young wonder Hugh Herr who, after changing into his new legs, glided up through some of the most difficult moves up hard rock then extant. And so witness up front and personal generations of climbing history alive and thriving still amid the culture and opulence of the well to do living under parasols around their putting and bowling greens and afloat in a gentle Lake just like they’d done for a century past.

      What a culture up there around New Paltz can build big tent that it covers and empowers and feeds all of these wildly different interests and ages of people at a single table? This is a key question. For these same forces were straining to bust out down south in Appalachia, and just up the road from the Dolly Sods, at a place where fins of rock tower over Seneca Creek.

    • There is a great deal more to be said on this subject. But time at the moment is short. I hope to get back and dig deeper into this issue.

  2. There is quite a bit of tourism potential for the areas of WVA and Appalachia that have not been devastated by coal mining and other destructive activities.

    The saving grace is that the first go around when Appalachia was laid bare by clearcutting – the land was essentially abandoned and the Fed Govt came to buy that land – (including Dolly Sods – Reed).

    Now that land has healed as a result of the Feds tree planting and other management and conservation – that also protected that land from mountaintop-removal and open pit mining.

    Combine that with some AirBnB cabins, some nice local restaurants… and other standard things that young and active like – and those young and active will get older and some more affluent…. etc..

    but the thing is – the govt is not going to provide folks with jobs like they do in Northern Va… so it is up to each person how they want to go about making a living – and yes – when textile and furniture go overseas and coal gets replaced by gas – and the economy shifts – people do have to decide if they will stay or move.

    that’s life. Some may get to stay and make a life and living from tourism. Others may need to think in terms of going where jobs do exist

    Appalachia has a lot of potential but it’s people lack a modern education and many lack an entrepreneurial mindset and culture which I think is lacking in education in general and ought to be a mandatory course for young folks. The proverbial – 21st century – “teach them how to fish” not expect someone to provide them with fish.

    this map impresses me – and not in a positive way:

  3. here’s another really shocking map of Appalachia:

  4. Why, all them people in them hills needs is a bunch more tourists. Them thar tourists can teach uneducated hillbillies how to fish and run a country store and how to sell their grand pappy’s land for vacation homes for the city slickers. Hain’t nothing to it. Hell, even red necks could get rich just sellin all them classic junk cars hiding in the ridge line trees.

    Uh, anyone been to Branson, Mo. or Dollywood in the past few years? Them rich city tourists ain’t rich anymore. Free time shares and steeply discounted attraction tickets seem to be the norm these days.

    Last month I did a major road trip through most of those dark purple areas on Larry’s map, checking out potential retirement spots. The only booming industry in most of those places is apparently more meth labs and recycled slum lord motels.

    Let me tell you something about hill people from personal experience. If they wanted you to educate them on the benefits of big city ideas, they would already be living in DC or New York.

    No, you have to do like Robert Byrd did when he boxed up federal agencies and moved them to W.Va. A complete turn key solution ready to go the day it’s installed, with big city people moving to small town America and training the local workforce. A knowledge factory replacing the industrial factory.

    In a current reality, no one has money for that any more than the people dreaming up dead end tourist solutions.

    • Your comment is spot on. I suspect we need the people from and grounded in Appalachia as much, if not more, in many cases, than they need us. Likely too, now in hindsight, that is why I married one of ’em.

  5. If the day comes that cities are faced with a major migration event, then those fleeing will find that city ways don’t work too well in a sustainable subsistence way. It’s even a lost art for many in hill country, who have traded old ways in for hand outs.

    That’s why many who left the hills still own raw property there. Just in case… Cheap insurance.

    • Darrell – Another good point. Those are tough people back in those hills. The Marine Corps learned the lesson long ago. Their proof was in the puddling.

  6. Like I said – it’s up to you to decide what you want to do to earn a living.

    If you live in Appalachia and don’t like the idea of working in the industries that are available in that geography and you don’t want to move to where jobs might be – then what should you do? Just apply for Govt “assistance” like Social security disability?

    It’s a tough world right now in terms of finding work if one does not have the education that is demanded by the jobs that do exist and/or one does not want to go to where jobs are.

    Jobs do exist – outside of cities and in occupations that don’t require college – but no one is going to hand you one for the most part unless you are lucky enough to get one of those Robert Byrd jobs or work in one of them Govt DOD jobs… even then you have to go to where those jobs are.

    More than a few people actually did leave and do leave Appalachia to go to where the jobs are – they keep their land – and move back when they retire.

    Happens not only in Appalachia… in rural Va or Iowa or geography across the US.

    So you can take personal responsibility for doing what is necessary to support yourself and your family or you can blame others and the govt which seems to be a popular option these days.

    No one , not even the govt “”owes” you a job. deal with it.

    interesting contrast between the plight of those in who live poor in Appalachia and those who live poor in our urban inner cities, eh?

  7. The US military is one of the greatest GOVT job incubators that has ever existed in the US.

    It allows people who are “stuck” in the geography they were born in – to escape – not without some negatives for sure – a gamble especially when we are “staffing” combat zones… but you do get job training.. that often can be an entry into a civilian occupation – not to mention the GI BILL education benefits …

    Of course – even the military has one of those awful standardized tests you have to pass to get in – all the more reason to take full advantage of what ever education is offered at the local level – and – give the govt credit – they require all localities to provide a free public education -one of the most valuable benefits “given” to all kids regardless of geography .. so credit the govt for that.

    You can also skip the military and move to an urban area and take a service job and enroll in a community college to get an occupational certificate – for police or medical or other jobs that DO exist in the economy.

    or you can just stay where you were born -and curse the world for your own plight.

  8. It is amusing to read this post and the comments — all from well-to-do guys who generally live in nice areas looking down from and telling the poor of the coal country what to do.

    A little reality check:

    (1) What to do post-coal in Central Appalachia has been an issue for decades. Putting rubber boats on New River whitewater and making ATV trails has actually been done years ago.
    (2) The post conveniently skips a telling. A bunch of huge coal firms, such as Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot, have all gone bankrupt. They have cut their retiree benefits and health plans while giving bosses big bonuses.
    (3) Such companies have try to skimp out on paying for huge environmental disasters such as mountaintop removal. They had used their then healthy balance sheets as a guarantee for corrective action but that, of course, is toast.
    (4) There’s only so much you can do with tourism. You can’t whitewater in a snow storm.
    (5) I kind get tired of people waxing eloquent about their youthful trips to West Virginia. Such bullshit. When I was 9 in 1962, my father left the Navy in Bethesda to move to a private medical practice in West Virginia. I went from a school where they taught fifth graders French to one where they said we would never need to know French. I went with my Dad to help give out polio vaccines. It was in a high school where some of the walls were missing and snow was drifting onto the basketball court. I used to play on unrecovered strip mines. I rode on a school bus with miners’ kids and knew when their dads died.

    So, where the hell is the moral outrage? Why did coal firms rape the people and the land and leave nothing behind.

    I spent two years research ,y book about Massey Energy “Thunder on the Mountain” and remember driving repeatedly through Williamson on the Kentucky border. Old men with black lung would stroll on crumbled sidewalks with walkers attached to air bottles. The kids were in meth labs or selling Oxycondone. The only real jobs were at a Wal Mart stretched miles apart,

    Yeah, I love it when you rich guys start telling me how great it is that someone has discovered tourism.

    What a total crock of bullshit

    • Wow, Peter, you have a lot of rage. Maybe it’s justified, maybe it’s not. But what ideas do you have to help the people of Southwest Virginia (or West Virginia, or eastern Kentucky) other than hurling expletives against coal companies? Your undisguised hatred of the coal industry and contempt for those whose opinions differ from your own doesn’t put one person back to work.

  9. Yeah – that’s a little harsh guys.

    During my work career – I met many folks from places like WVA and other rural areas who decided to leave even if they owned land – because the coal and the furniture and textiles, all went away. It was the younger ones that left who actually still were able to pursue more education – and did – so they could qualify for a job.

    It’s the same thing that many immigrants to this country do – you find work and you pursue more education to better your earning ability.

    We have so much freedom and opportunity in this country especially with regard to being able to receive an education. It’s basically there for anyone who chooses to take advantage of it.

    Coal DID RAPE WVA and Appalachia but not before clearcutting of it’s forests happened before that – ironically – to build the cities of the East then coal mined to power those cities.

    And yes – the entrepreneurs who owned and operated those enterprises were not exactly Mother Teresa types… that’s not unique. Around the world – workers get stomped by those who would exploit them and that’s were unions came from …

    But I say again – no one owes you a job and if the only job available to you is one is which the owners are willing to endanger your life – then you are, in this country, free to get a better education and free to be mobile.

    I don’t look down my nose at anyone who is in that circumstance – but it is the reality for many – a LOT of US – more than some might think. You get to the 8th or 9th grade in high school – and some can see enough of the future to know they do have choices and some just go on to graduate to “find a job” or “work in the mines” without a whole hell of a lot more in the way of thinking about how they are going to care for their own needs or their family needs – including their kids who are going to be also doomed if they don’t get encourage to make the most of their k-12 education and set their sites to other places to earn a living if the current place is not good.

    And again -you can blame others – big bad companies or the government but we are among the luckiest humans on the planet in terms of opportunities that are available to us to better ourselves – and the rest of the world knows it and many come here for those opportunities.

    and the ones born here? sometimes not so much… which is a tragedy for sure but one they have at least some ownership of.

  10. Jim,
    Possible reforms are in my book. Tourism and call centers are of very limited value.
    You do not answer points about coal companies that go bankrupt and then try to screw their retirees out of pensions and other benefits.
    Why don’t you try addressing that? Is that OK with you? Just the free market?

    • Peter, did you read past the first paragraph, or did your knee-jerk reflexes kick in before your brain could engage?

      You wrote, “Tourism and call centers are of very limited value.”

      I agree. Here’s what I wrote in the second paragraph: “Realistically speaking, one has to ask what kind of economic contribution tourism can make. I still remember the words of deceased Virginia Tourism director Patrick McMahon who sympathized with the effort to lure backpackers and kayakers to the Virginia mountains but noted that selling water bottles and granola bars didn’t generate much in the way of revenue.

      “Southwest Virginia does not have, and never will have, the marketing dollars or the destinations to compete with first-tier tourism attractions.”

  11. One of your big problems is that the economic and moral mess left in the coalfields is the failure of unfettered capitalism. With so much energy wealth, the residents should have much wealth in salaries, schools, health and so on. But all that wealth was moved away, to places like Richmond, for example. The Coal firms bought everyone off. It’s not me “hating” coal companies — it’s the honest history.

    What you can’t accept is that these for profit firms raped the land and the people. Only government and regulation can mediate that.

    And, believe it or not, that makes me sound like a Republican Progressive of the Gilded Age, not some half-assed 21st century neocon or libertarian.

  12. Peter’s premise seems to be that had the people of WVA shared more equitably in the profits from coal that they’d be better off …..now and somehow the land would not have been raped.

    I don’t defend the coal companies at all – they are despicable for their actions but I doubt that sharing the money would be any more than say how Alaska shared money from Prudhoe Bay – a tidy sum but not enough to live on.

    but deep-shaft coal mining is 1. dangerous and deadly around the world
    2. – as far as I know – no company that mines coal “shares profits” with the workers.

    perhaps they should – but it’s not an Appalachia-only problem.

  13. You could take all those bulldozed mountains and build some pretty fancy nursing homes on top of them. Nice flat park like land with a view and plenty of surrounding wilderness for the mindless to drift off to their final reward. It’s not like the old geezers are going to be jumping into the fake ponds and lakes or anything. Look at all the long term jobs created out of thin mountain air.

    Hell, they build entire fields of (once) expensive mini-mansions on old city dumps down in Tidewater. And after a few decades no one will even remember what the land was originally used for.

    With nursing homes, they will have an advantage.

    No one will remember after about six months.

  14. Darrell –

    What are you talking about? Put some detail on that.

  15. maybe tongue in cheek Darrell – but health care is a business that does provide jobs and between Social Security disability of which Appalachia is a big user and Medicare and Medicaid – those are indeed jobs.

    But how about turning those mountaintops into solar or wind also?

    I STILL think neither the government nor companies owe anyone a job and just as kids left the farms to go to cities for jobs or the freed sons and daughters of former slaves went to Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburg for manufacturing jobs so must others in the 21st century – for what jobs that do exist in the economy and if those jobs require more training and education – that’s the gig.

    Mind you – this opinion is coming from the guy that Bacon and Crazy and others here often refer to as “leftist”.

    Be that as it may – I believe each of us has a responsibility to do what we must – as individuals – to make a living. You can do it hard or you can do it smarter – and no one will ever say it is easy – but it is the gig.

    This is coming from a guy who swept floors at a local grocery, sold pens and paper at a stationery store, was a floor and carpet installer “helper”, sold shoes out of a Leggett and toys out of a K-Mart … and gasoline from a Phillips 66 – and a few more jobs like that before I finally found a better job and got some more education that it required.

    Along the way I found out from my first year at Community College that I did not have a sufficient high school education in English and Math and had to take a year of remedial courses before I could actually get into 101 courses.

    I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who took that rocky road and I fully admit it was not as rough as working in the mines of Appalachia – and like I said – I’ve met many a co-worker who grew up in Appalachia and left to find a better job than working in those mines.

    Education is the path forward for most people – some are innately talented at sports or salesmanship or entrepreneurial things and “learn” on the job but the point is those of us who have good health and mind are so fortunate to have been born in a country where we have – opportunity.

    And yet we sometimes are the biggest whiners and complainers on the earth it seems.

  16. That’s why there are hillbilly highways, Larry. I spent part of my summers in the sticks and the other part in Cleveland. I became a quick learner in hill craft and various trades because I am by nature very lazy, much like many hill folk.

    Some of the smartest people I’ve ever met turned out to be just like me, always looking for a better shortcut. They never allowed a lack of education to keep them from shorting out their home’s breaker box in a quest to build a more efficient electric fence. No, that supposed ignorance contributed one more hypotheses to the invention of a better tasting BBQ sauce.

    I also discovered that lefty’s are more ingenious than average people. They seem to do especially well in politics and other employment where no one really checks out their math. I know about these things. Since I throw things left handed but do just about every thing else right, I was born with a natural perception to observe people’s habits and thoughts, even though I really suck at math beyond adding things up. You Larry, for instance, appear to be a right hander stuck in a left winger’s body. It’s why you love hanging out on the ole Bacon, posting all kinds of statistical confusion. But that’s ok, Larry, because in today’s illuminated new world you can enter which ever bathroom door you can open. 🙂

    For example, I did that very thing not too long ago in a Tokyo airport rest room, much to the bemusement of several Japanese ladies. Leave it to me to analyze what these ladies found to be so funny. I finally shortened the reasons to the fact that in America most male bathrooms lean heavily to the right. In some situations or in other countries, relying on natural instincts developed by years of mindless routine can lead you to the wrong party. Remember that when you find yourself in a hall way, peeing in a bucket because you didn’t read the signs. While a dozen Japanese ladies are laughing hysterically behind their up turned hands.

    What does any of this have to do with Appalachia? Nothing. But hill people did quit taking the left fork in the road and appear to be supporting Trump. Whether that’s embarrassment or the dawn of new discovery remains to be seen.

  17. re: ” You Larry, for instance, appear to be a right hander stuck in a left winger’s body. It’s why you love hanging out on the ole Bacon, posting all kinds of statistical confusion. But that’s ok, Larry, because in today’s illuminated new world you can enter which ever bathroom door you can open”

    for the record – Darrell – I’m a lazy guy also. I like the easier and simpler paths – with the proviso that it has to be sustainable and not be short term fix-its that then leads to longer term snafus …

    In other words – problem solving with an eye towards things that work -into the future. Some folks call this efficiency. Some call it eloquent problem solving. But the gig is recognizing “lazy” that is just not doing what has to be done – but it has to work sustainably – not just until it blows up at the worst time later on.

    And I’ll give you an example. In programming – you can code quick and dirty and 2 years later no one knows what the hell you coded – not even you – and the thing is broke at the worst time and it can’t be easily or quickly fixed this time. In those cases – there is no virtue in lazy – just bad and expensive consequences. You can sure nuff jury rig that electrical until your new LCD TV or fridge gets fried because of it…

    education is a path to a better future – whether it’s Appalachia or Inner-city – Cleveland or Germany. It’s the gig even for the “lazy” who actually would understand the consequences of jury-rigging verses problem-solving.

    The Tokyo vignette – funny! 😉

    In terms of Trump and BR – some folks want and need to understand more about how the world works, why it doesn’t work.. and how “lazy” has the potential to be eloquent and sustainable – or the biggest CF ever.

    Remember this the next time you seek “help” for a “professional” like a Doctor or other learned you seek assistance from. Do you want the lazy-jury-rig solution from your doctor? how about from your traffic or bridge engineer or for that matter the guy who flies your plane in Tokyo or for that
    matter that lazy guy from out in sticks – replacing the bad tire on your plane – the best way he knows how? or the guy that maintains traffic signals or draw bridges …. lasik lasers, …etc.. etc…

    there’s a difference between a country boy that can survive – and a country boy who is responsible for infrastructure and services that kill other people if done “lazy” by a guy who never thought much of a formal education.

    In terms of what this has to do with Appalachia?

    There are places on earth – where – the economy is not sufficient to provide jobs to the people who grow up there.

    that’s just a reality – it’s not some evil conspiracy.

    If you can’t earn sufficient money to maintain you and your family’s life – you have to make a decision. Blaming the demise of an industry on others, or worse believing any politician who says he’s going to “bring coal back” is a sad commentary on the state of “knowledge” so not surprising that such folks don’t hold education in high regard. This is not just an Appalachia issue with today’s politics.

    We do not like change. we like what we had before -what we were used to and liked. That’s not a very real world and even the disaffected have been known to chide “oldtimers” for “not keeping up with the times”. That all changes apparently when it is YOU that ends up with “oldtimer” disease!!

    Please don’t take any of this personally. I have always enjoyed and appreciated your puckish wit and viewpoints so you must like hanging around BR also, eh?

  18. Some times BR is ok. This thread took off into several different directions instead of following a predicted path. I look at it like old time sitting on a park bench while idly whittling on a branch. A lot of thoughts get swapped until it’s all shavings on the ground.

    Time to go get some more wood. 😉

    • completely wrong on that one.

    • Anytime we talk about Appalachia and the plight of those who live there and are essentially hostage to coal as their only way of making a living – I think about other places that have also lost their industry – textiles and furniture are two but now manufacturing in general in a lot of areas beyond rural.

      Elected leaders refuse to tell people the truth.

      The truth is you got to go to where the jobs are – and if you don’t have enough education – you got to work on that also.

      that’s the simple truth.

      the second simple truth is that jobs have to come from the economy – not government – or lets say -they should but sometimes do not and that leads people – even elected officials to “fight” to get DOD and and other dollars and to “blame” the sequester for economic harm.

      I mainly think we should see the unvarnished truth on these issues – not defend ideology … or beliefs… so address the realities in front of us – and especially so if we want to opine on what to do about it.

      and yes -there ARE indeed OPINIONs 😉

      and more wood to whittle!!!

      and not inclined to believe in conspiracies or that all govt is corrupt and bad or that we’re all doomed because we have deficit and debt… etc…

      I think govt is people – and people are flawed – and thus govt is and sometimes it takes a while to get things right or better and sometimes things fester for way too long before we deal with it. And some of this is caused by denial of the realities and hardened beliefs and ideologies.

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