Today's New York Times has a story about a dying town in Southeast Kansas that is tainted by mine tailings. Instead of letting the marketplace do that voodoo that it does so well, Kansas Senators Roberts and Sam Brownback want to use our tax dollars to buy out the few remaining residents!
This article is about a dying town very close to the border with Oklahoma, and a bit West of the Missouri line. In its heyday, Treece was a boom town. There was much mining activity, thanks to local deposits of ores of lead, zinc, and iron. The last of the mines closed in the 1970s, and the area is now characterized by mounds of tailings, contaminated soil, and sinkholes.
The town of Picher, just across the state line in Oklahama, has similar problems. Picher, however, has been a Superfund site that the EPA has been trying to clean up since the 1980s. On the Oklahoma side of the line, the Federal Government bought up the houses of residents.
Treece, however, is not included in the Superfund site. So, there apparently have not been any Federal- Government buy-outs of houses.
The population of the town has shrunk almost seventeen-fold: from about 2,000 to 120. All of the local businesses have shut down. It appears that the town itself went out of existence as a legal entity on the first of September.
When tested, one-third of the children in Picher had more lead in their blood streams than was deemed safe. The children of Treece have apparently never been tested.
The people who are left in Treece -- mostly the children and grandchildren of miners -- cannot sell their homes. No one would want to live there. Likewise, they cannot get loans using their homes as collateral, because the homes are essentially worthless.
Kansas Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts are pushing the EPA to buy out the people who are left in Treece.
In other words, they want to use our tax dollars instead of letting market forces work their magic. Doesn't that smack of Socialism??!!
And what's the matter with the people of Treece, anyway? Why don't they roll up their sleeves, and solve their problem the old-fashioned way, through hard work and private enterprise??!!