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View Diary: Down & Out in West Virginia (31 comments)

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  •  Free and Independant State of McDowell (5+ / 0-)

    In McDowell County there is a rule in play that is in play in a lot of our former coal boom towns.

    I call it "Survival of the unfittest"

    The idea is that when the jobs left nearly everybody with anything on the ball left.

    So the only people who can actually continue to live there are people who qualify for some sort of check, like SSI.

    Now don't get me wrong, one of the smartest guys I knew in college was from Kimball,  and I had a super sharp co worker from Welch, so it's not EVERYBODY. Both of those guys live in California now.

    But if the only people who are left have some sort of mental or physical disability, or at least the only young people left, then you wind up sort of  robbing the community of any innovation or entraprenurial spirit.

    Also that means that the next generation is genetically selected to be able to survive there which means able to qualify for a check.

    I've tested lots of people in Panther, and Jolo, where the snake handling church is, and it's rare to have an IQ over 80  there. Rare.

    When you think about what a boom county McDowell used to be, even had a huge red light district cinder bottom, and how it is now, you truly understand the curse of coal.

    Not only is there no real transportation system into the place, but the coal companies own most of the land that might be able to be developed.

    Plus the "survival of the unfittest" concept has sort of cut down on the population having enough people who could work.

    •  That's amazing (0+ / 0-)

      One is aware of the stereotype of the redneck hillbilly. I never had much belief in it. One of the smartest people I ever knew was a former neighbor who grew up in WV coal country. Never made it passed the 8th grade, worked hard and moved to Chicago as soon as he could. Made a good life for himself.

      I had always rather believed that the ones who stayed were like him but apparently rather the opposite. Brain drain on a massive scale.

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