Technology Remaking the World

Southwest Virginia Population decline 2010-2018.

Bristol, Virginia Tri-Cities Third-World America

by Lewis Loflin

In 1997 I launched this website to protest the appalling job and labor climate in Tri-Cities Virginia-Tennessee. Just in Southwest Virginia alone hundreds of millions in government grants from the Federal Appalachian Regional Commission to state institutions such as LENOWISCO, VCEDA, and the Tobacco Commission grants have been wasted.

Some, those politically connected, got very rich in the process. The population figures above are proof of this failure.

Yes, wasted. Political ideology, corruption, and class warfare doomed these programs from the start. It was mostly the work of Virginia Republicans. Democrats worry only about abstract Democratic Party issues such as climate change and racist identity politics.

These programs failed and will continue to fail for the same reason foreign aid fails in third-world sh**holes - political corruption and local culture. Virginia politicians even concocted the concept in "in shoring".

Making Southwest Virginia even more third-world would attract business investment! Why pay poverty wage scales in India when one can pay that here! In addition they will give you millions in corporate welfare, tax breaks, free buildings, you name it!

In one case they spent over $100,000 per job at a series of defunct call centers even after their own studies warned them not to rely on call center jobs.

Recently local liberals protested illegal alien children being separated from their criminal parents. This took place at our empty $6 million Train Station under the Bristol sign.

Not a damn one of these people will address the sea of white, working-class poverty that surrounds them. They don't care.

Republican politicians that dominate the region don't care either. One ex-Bristol City official commented our high unemployment rates and low wage scales are attractive to business.

The Sullivan County Tennessee Chamber of Commerce brought in a speaker that suggested bringing in thousands of Hispanic "immigrants" to help reduce labor cost for local business.

Quoting futurist Ed Barlow before the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce:

"Seniors create low-wage service jobs. They tend to withdraw from working, and they generally don't create new wealth. A retirement community strategy has long-term negative economic consequences unless there is a diverse (cheap labor non-white) economic base of other employees around it...A significant component of your economic future in Sullivan County is recruiting Hispanics, making sure they get highly educated and integrated into the community."

The 2011 Blue Ribbon Audit of the Virginia Tobacco Commission revealed 89 percent of their grants have never been accounted for. None of the recommended reforms have been implemented and nothing has changed in 2018. Their conclusion:

Grants Have Provided Benefits But Revitalization Remains Elusive;
TICR Has Made Grants With Limited Potential for Revitalization;
Well-Defined Revitalization Strategy Needed;
More Effective Governance Model Should Be Considered;
Most Awards Not Paired With Relevant Metrics.

And that remains true today. But it isn't just Southwest Virginia.

$74.5 million in losses to upper East Tennessee Hospitals.

Ballad Health to Downgrade Bristol, Kingsport Hospitals

Sullivan County Tennessee is "standing" against the decision to downgrade the trauma center designations for Bristol Regional and Holston Valley Medical Centers to level 3. This will leave only Johnson City as the sole regional level 1 trauma center. In addition Kingsport will lose a pediatric trauma center.

The Sullivan County Commission has passed a resolution against the changes. Local officials claim this will cost lives. Ballad Health has a near monopoly in Tri-Cities. Ref. BHC 11-16-2018.

What wasn't clear is why this was happening. Then the shocker came: millions in losses threaten to shut down local hospitals in East Tennessee. Southwest Virginia hospitals are not much better off. Lee County hospital has closed while efforts are ongoing to reopen it.

In 2009 I attended a town hall in Abingdon for former congress critter Rick Boucher. Mr. Boucher is now a lobbyist for Communist China. He oversaw the waste of millions of federal dollars across the region.

I managed to interview the CEOs of the above hospital chains before they became Ballad. The controversy over free healthcare for illegal aliens was raging then with Obamacare. To quote my 2009 article:

He was asked by several people about keeping illegal aliens off the system and he claimed "the Bill forbids service to those not in the country legally." Yet I've asked this in writing where does it say non-citizens are barred from services and where's the enforcement mechanism?

There's none I can find and he won't supply specifics. To his credit he reiterated 35 million uninsured to discount illegal aliens. The question nobody has answered is what about the millions of non-citizens here on the masses of visas the government hands out? They want to add another 250,000 farm workers and give them green cards, so who will stop them from getting free healthcare?

The real problem is Mr. Boucher was totally dishonest on the cause of the problem. He kept blaming it on covering the uninsured at emergency rooms was the entire problem. Just get some more government health care and we fix the problem. Wellmont CEO Mike Snow and the other CEO whose name I didn't get contradicted this. According to them the big problem is government. 45% of their patients are on Medicare where they are reimbursed for only 90% of their costs. Even worse are the Medicaid and TennCare patients where the reimbursement is 65% of cost.

These two groups far over-utilize the system. Why shouldn't they if it's free? Now add in 10% that never pay that is 70% of their patients they lose money on. By law hospitals can't turn them away so the 30% or so with private insurance or who can pay are stuck with most of the bills. In other words the government mandates they can't turn anyone away, loads the system up with government healthcare patients they refuse to pay for in many cases, then force hospitals/doctors to eat the cost or shift it elsewhere.

Yet we attack insurance companies that want to pay the same money-losing low rates as government while the providers shift the losses from government meddling to them. Mr. Boucher spoke about ending cost shifting because of emergency rooms when most of it is due to existing government healthcare programs. I asked Mr. Snow if it wouldn't be better if the government simply contracted the services and the government gave the providers some leeway. He agreed it could work. Nothing even close to this was even brought to the floor. I also asked would it help to enforce copays on all government plans to cut down the overuse. He agreed. The panel also mentioned the terrible drug problem in the region.

See Town Halls and Other Controversy 2009. Not a thing has changed in 10 years and is getting worse. Drug addicts overfill local jails.

Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee are at the center of the opioid crisis. The real reason is never given in news reports. To quote the Washington Post 7/16/2019:

The states that received the highest concentrations of pills per person per year were: West Virginia with 66.5, Kentucky with 63.3, South Carolina with 58, Tennessee with 57.7 and Nevada with 54.7. West Virginia also had the highest opioid death rate from 2006 through 2012.

Rural areas with the greatest number of pills shipped per person per year were: Norton, Va., with 306; Martinsville, Va., with 242; Mingo County, W.Va., with 203; and Perry County, Ky., with 175.

The pill demographics in Southwest Virginia mirror those of Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The two worse-off communities are in Virginia with Norton (Wise County) and Martinsville.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the Southwest Virginia non-metropolitan area includes Bland County, Buchanan County, Carroll County, Dickenson County, Galax city, Grayson County, Henry County, Lee County, Martinsville city, Norton city, Patrick County, Russell County, Smyth County, Tazewell County, Wise County, and Wythe County.

This designation is absurd. Lee County borders Kentucky while Martinsville nearly borders North Carolina south of Roanoke. I'll explain why this is a problem further down.

Virginia map.

Who is Poor and Why?

The answer who is rural and small town whites and urban blacks. They suffer poverty for the really the same reasons - the ruling class has no use for either other than a low-wage servant class. Illegal aliens work just fine for that. lists the ten poorest places in the Old Dominion for 2019:

Emporia, Petersburg, South Boston, Martinsville (city), Danville, Radford, Woodstock, Big Stone Gap (Wise County), Richlands (Tazewell County), Pulaski (Pulaski County).

Emporia Virginia is 68% non-white. 31% poverty rate. (Census 2019);
Petersburg Virginia is 83% non-white. 21.8% poverty rate (Census 2019);
South Boston Virginia is 50% white. 26.4% poverty rate (Census 2019);
Martinsville Virginia is 51% non-white. 22.5% poverty rate. (Census 2019);
Danville Virginia is 54% non-white. 24.4% poverty rate. (Census 2019);

The above are poor because of the large numbers of poor blacks. All except Petersburg are located near North Carolina far from wealthy Northern Virginia. Losses of manufacturing jobs have devastated these communities.

Radford Virginia is 83% white. Radford University has ~8400 students. 12% population gain, 29% poverty rate (Census 2019)

Woodstock Virginia is 94% white. 23.6% poverty rate. (Census 2019);
Big Stone Gap is 94% white (Wiki). 23.3% poverty rate. (Census 2019);
Richlands Virginia is 99% white (Wiki). 22.1% poverty rate. (Census 2019);
Pulaski Virginia is 90.5% white. 21.3% poverty rate. (Census)

Another factor for the latter 5 is about 12% on average lack health insurance. The fact is the disabled, welfare class, etc. usually do have health insurance through Medicare and Medicaid. Those unlikely to have insurance or poor insurance are likely working low-wage garbage jobs that dominate the region.

Bristol Virginia where I live has a 21.3% poverty rate. Bristol is the home of low-wage, part-time garbage jobs. But Bristol isn't alone.

Radford University in Radford straddles Pulaski and Montgomery Counties. As a state university it should bring in millions of dollars to the local community, instead we have among the worst poverty rates in the region.

Montgomery County Virginia is 86% white. It has a poverty rate of 23%, almost as high as Wise County (23.3%) in the depressed coal fields.

It is also the home of Blacksburg Virginia the home of Virginia Tech or Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. We have two large Virginia state universities within a few miles of each other.

According to the Census Blacksburg has an astounding 43.7% poverty rate! Virginia Tech enrollment is 34,400 students. That involves billions of dollars flowing through the institution. Even if the presence of students distort these poverty figures the high poverty rates in Montgomery County and surrounding areas can't be denied.

The wealth stays concentrated and doesn't flow to those working low-wage service jobs. Both colleges get millions in government grants under the guise of regional economic development. Where is the benefit to the general population? What actual jobs for the average person did this create - zero.

High poverty rates mean high numbers of uninsured, over use of Medicare and Medicaid. Doctors and hospitals don't want uninsured or most Medicaid patients. They lose massive amounts of money. The solution to get them out the door - pills.

People are put on pills because the medical system doesn't want to treat what they see as deadbeats. That is how we ended up with this massive addiction problem.

To be continued.

In 2011 Bristol-Tri-Cities was ranked number 5 in the 10 poorest cities in America by

Taxpayer waste $8 million Bristol Virginia Energy Research Center another empty building producing nothing. See Green Energy Boondoggle in Bristol Virginia and Biofuel Scams Wastes Millions in Virginia.

Updates March 2019. What a mess.

Quick navigation of my homepage:

While no surprise to me, the Community was rocked when on August 1st Bristol Compressors announced they will close. Their last 470 workers will be fired in the next 60 days. This comes after Bristol Compressors received between $5-$6 million in incentives, corporate welfare, and tax breaks.

News reports says the equipment and patents are being sold to a company in Taiwan. See Bristol Compressors Closes Cost Taxpayers Millions

Hobby Lobby is open at The Falls, a $80 million taxpayer funded shopping center. Leaving the City of Bristol Virginia millions in debt they lost between $500,000 to $750,000 on The Falls in 2018 depends on who one asks. This comes as Bristol struggles to keep teachers and police on the payroll.

More than a dozen stores, etc. have backed out of locating at The Falls. The entire fiasco was cooked up behind closed doors with zero public input - most of those behind this scam soon left the local government.

BVU-Optinet has finally been sold after a year of bickering to Sunset Digital for $50 million. The fiber-optic system was mainly funded with public money on the promise of zillions of new high tech jobs - didn't happen.

The $50 million will pay off Optinet debt much of it to the electricity side of Bristol Virginia Utilities. I warned they were robbing the electric company to fund Optinet.

According to press reports (BHC July 28, 2018) $8 million to the Tobacco Commission. $21.9 million for the purchase of Optinet, $13.9 million to pay back the electric company, another $2.49 million to the water company.

They borrowed millions from the electric and water divisions who then went out and borrowed elsewhere to cover their infrastructure needs. This helped hide the true cost from the public. 10 officials and contractors at Bristol Virginia Utilities were sent to Federal prison on numerous charges.

They got away with this massive fraud for over a decade (I kept warning about this) because the public has no access to the inner workings of public agencies of all kinds.

Update July 2017: I warned about Nulife Glass and predicted it was a scam. In June they fired the few people they hired and left Bristol with between 20-30 million pounds of CRT glass - glass loaded with lead. Press reports claim Bristol is trying to sue the company but likely will get stuck with disposal. They sold a $1.3 million building for less than $200,000 and half of that was payed for by grants.

This is directly across the street from the empty Bristol Virginia Mall and on three sides are residential neighborhoods that objected to this nonsense.


The Bristol Herald Courier attempts to paint a false narrative of a gender pay gap in Abingdon, Virginia. This is in fact a skills and occupation pay gap. See There's No Gender Pay Gap in Abingdon, Virginia

Above is quick navigation of websites.

Update: It has been just announced a company will create 40 jobs in Lebanon, Virginia (Russell County) to manufacture belts, etc. for the mining industry. They will locate in the empty Teleflex building. Due to Donald Trump reigning in the destructive EPA-Obama war on affordable energy and blue collar jobs coal production has surged 25% from January-July 2017. These are the kinds of jobs we really need not green energy nonsense. July 27, 2017.

Bristol Southwest Virginia Article Archive

See Bristol Herald Courier Now a Victim

Empty Bristol Mall

What is Fake News?

Allcott and Gentzkow define "fake news" to be "news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false, and could mislead readers." They attempt to exclude disreputable media practices and bias from the definition. 62 percent of US adults get news on social media, while 65% distrust the mainstream media and that concerns me. Print media influence in the 2016 election was down to 8%.

I define "fake news" as articles designed to create false, biased, narratives with partial facts filtered through a Progressive filter, censor pertinent facts by omission, block discussion through editorial censorship, that is ideologically slanted, and designed not to give facts, but stoke emotion and sway public opinion. This skirts the fringes of propaganda and yellow journalism.

Ref. Journal of Economic Perspectives Volume 31, Number 2 Spring 2017 Pages 211-236, Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election by Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow

Sources of 2016 Election News:
Radio: 6.2%
Print: 8%
Social Media: 13.8%

Gallup polls reveal a continuing decline of "trust and confidence" in the mass media "when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately, and fairly."

Trust in Mainstream media: Democrats 52%, Republicans ~18%, overall ~35%. 65% of the public doesn't trust the mainstream media. 62 percent of US adults get news on social media.

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