Monday, February 6, 2017

Last Call For Last Bus To Beattyville

Another month, another story of poor white folks in eastern Kentucky who are desperately waiting for Trump to save them.  This time it's Beattyville in Lee County, where residents are hoping Trump will bring back oil and coal jobs from 40 years ago...and barring that, at least if they'll cut off those people who didn't vote for him so the people of this tiny town can continue getting SNAP, welfare, and Obamacare.

"If you got a job here in Beattyville, you're lucky," says Amber Hayes, a bubbly 25-year-old mom of two, who also voted for Trump. She works at the county courthouse, but is paid by the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP), a form of welfare. 
Coal, oil and tobacco made Beattyville a boom town in the 1800s and much of the 1900s. Locals like to bring up the fact that Lee County -- where Beattyville is located -- was the No. 1 oil-producing county east of the Mississippi at one time. 
"Growing up in the '70s? Yeah, this was the place to be," says Chuck Caudhill, the general manager of the local paper, The Beattyville Enterprise. He calls the town the "gem of eastern Kentucky." 
Today, the town is a ghost of its former self. The vast majority of Beattyville residents get some form of government aid -- 57% of households receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from Social Security. 
"I hope [Trump] don't take the benefits away, but at the same time, I think that once more jobs come in a lot of people won't need the benefits," says Hayes, who currently receives about $500 a month from government assistance. She's also on Obamacare.

I understand that Beattyville is poor as hell, and that Lee County has fallen into dark times.  I understand that the efforts made to help the people there haven't been enough.  I understand that oil and tobacco have left them high and dry. I understand being from a town where the companies left and folks are praying for jobs.  Lee County is maybe fifty miles southeast of Lexington, I could get there in about 2 hours and change from here.  It's the same kind of small town I left behind more than a decade ago.

But when 80% of the county votes for Trump, knowing his message full well of bigotry and racism and that his message is acceptable as long as he maybe spares them the rod by yanking a few assistance programs in Louisville or Lexington where they didn't vote for him, well that's not okay.

The people who voted for Clinton in Lee County?  Yeah, I feel for them.  But the Trump voters? You're getting exactly what you wanted.

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