Social Apartheid in Tri-Cities Bristol Virginia-Tennessee Revisited
Welcome to Tri-Cities and Bristol VA/TN. We are part of Southern Appalachia, a region more like a third-world banana republic. Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee is a divided city (by the VA/TN state line) symbolic of the division in our region as our many bickering local governments waste more tax dollars with the least results of anywhere in America. They maintain a system I describe as social apartheid; University of New Hampshire’s Cynthia M. Duncan calls it Worlds Apart in her book on “Why Poverty Persists in Rural America.”
To quote Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Governmental Studies: “The most corrupt region is Southwest Virginia – more indictments for political and public office corruption have happened in this region than all other parts of the state combined.” According to a report from the Kingsport Times-News (May 22nd, 2010), “Tennessee named most corrupt state in the nation; Virginia listed as second.” So here we have Bristol VA/TN located at the juncture of the two most corrupt states in the Union, and for Virginia, the most corrupt region of the state.
To quote the late Bill Deel, a retired English teacher from Clintwood, Virginia, “We’re becoming more and more Third World here…The best and the brightest leave.” We will explore the real side of poverty and how government programs have mostly failed and benefited the rich and connected. They failed because local government was given the money under the guise of “local control” and “community block grants” which ended up as golf courses, the arts, recreation, and public funding for shopping malls, corporate welfare for local business, and pork-barrel roads leading to nowhere. We spend millions on public education and have great colleges, but watch in dismay as our young people flee the region because local business refuses to hire them.
Let me be clear the people involved (government, non-profit, etc.) in what I’m presenting are not evil people or dishonest in any manner. I know many of them and as individuals I would attest to their honesty. They mean well and do the best they can. My criticism is a political system that would turn the most humble saint into Satan.
The public lets this happen as they put tremendous pressure on government to do things they shouldn’t be doing, then refusing to pay the taxes or commit to the self-sacrifice to make it work. It’s a type of “not in my backyard” on a social level. I can’t say enough say good things about Bristol and this in many ways great community, but this is counter-balanced by the criminal indifference and apathy towards lower income working people.
That is what this webpage is about. I present the lives a sizable group of citizens we see%