Reason, Liberty, & Culture

government pork and waste.

Bristol Virginia Tri-Cities a Great Place to Retire

by Lewis Loflin
"It's a little-known fact that roughly 20 percent of the children in Southwest Virginia live below the poverty line and go hungry every night." Kevin Crutchfield, President Alpha Natural Resources, January 15, 2009

For years I've exposed dysfunctional government and high levels of poverty. Now I'll balance that with positive aspects of a community I've lived in over 30 years. I won't pull any punches or engage in political correctness. The positives I'll be expanding on:

Low levels of crime despite a drug addiction problem among the lower class. Low levels of "diversity" and illegal aliens both directly proportional to high violent crime rates. According to Virginia State Police data blacks/Hispanics account for 75% of the violent crime in the state. White population in general 90% white.

Low cost of living, good infrastructure, good roads, high speed fiber optic.

Mostly good healthcare, but doctor shortages due to high use of Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured according to health officials I talked to - 75-80% of the population. We have one of the best Veterans Hospitals in the nation in Johnson City.

Low income levels are offset by a high home ownership rates (over 50%) and most other homes not under water. Housing prices are low relative to national averages. On the bad side too much public housing and its crime and social problems concentrated in Bristol Virginia. In 2012 Bristol Virginia had a crime rate higher than Virginia Beach and Charlottesville. This improved in 2015. Ref. 2012 & 2015 State Police Crime Statistics.

Updated Sep. 2017

When it comes to arrogance, power, and lack of accountability, journalists are probably the only people on the planet who make lawyers look good. -- Steve Brill

Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative to quote on "mainstream journalists",

"The people who run American journalism, and who staff the newsrooms, think of themselves as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and, culturally speaking, on the right side of history... (are) interested in every kind of diversity, except the kind that would challenge their own prejudices. Those include, bigotry against conservative religion, bigotry against rural folks and bigotry against working-class and poor white people."

Ref. Oct. 18, 2016 The Post-Trump Media by James Taranto WSJ

Quote: "A free press is bad news for corruption." Today with much of the press owned by radical oligarchs such as Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Carlos Slim, we have no free press.

Chomsky penned the idea of the "propaganda model" in 1988. The Podesta emails release proved just how the press has been compromised. To quote,

"The media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them. The representatives of these interests have important agendas and principles that they want to advance, and they are well positioned to shape and constrain media policy." -Chomsky

What is yellow journalism?

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion. - Wiki

Propaganda - noun.

1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

My definition: Political correctness - moralistic sounding censorship and suppression of free speech from cowards in the media and government used to control the conversation and exclude anyone that dares to question anything the elites and the press corporatist bosses perceive as a threat.

Political correctness as censorship and policy. Editor Jim Maxwell of the Bristol Herald Courier, who is also white, says, "Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of this newspaper staff and management. In support of the First Amendment right of free speech...publisher reserves the right to reject (censor) any submission." Then who the heck is responsible for what goes in your newspaper? Total weasel words Mr. Maxwell.

In general "Red" states and Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee are very "Red" we have a high standard of living for the most even with lower earned income levels. To quote a study from the King Institute for Regional Economic Studies:

"The most troubling aspect of the Southwest Virginia economy is the decline in earned income in recent years. Real earned income fell 17 percent from 2011 to 2014. This is a direct result of declining production and employment in the coal mining sector. Due to the sharp drop in earned income, residents in Southwest Virginia received 72 cents in government transfer payments for every dollar of earned income in 2014. Comparable values for the Tri­Cities and the U.S. are 49 cents and 27 cents, respectively."

With all of this why did Trump get as much as 75% of the votes in this and other similar regions? See Red States Higher Standard of Living

See the full King Institute for Regional Economic Studies Report.

UPDATED: Hobby Lobby pulls plan for Bristol, Virginia location.

BRISTOL, Va. — Hobby Lobby has pulled plans to open a store in Bristol, Virginia, but a spokesman for Publix said Friday that the grocery chain remains committed to opening a store in the city.

There's already a Hobby Lobby 18 miles away in Kingsport.

Welcome to my website as 2017 makes this my 19th year on the web and have lived in Tri-Cities Bristol since 1984. Oddly this website was started to protest political corruption and poverty in the community, but most of the visitors prefer the religious-historical material over politics. Not that I blame them with the way things run in this country.

Another $350,000 Wasted on Passenger Rail Study

The Bristol Train Station was a worthless project costing taxpayers $6 million and ten years to renovate. Finished in 2008 it has produced nothing of value in either jobs or economic development. They have been lobbying for years to get AMTRAK to come to Bristol, itself a massive waste of tax dollars.

In 2016 the Appalachian Regional (pork and waste) Commission has awarded another $100,000 to be combined with $250,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission the gold standard in government waste for a "viability" study to bring trains to Bristol. To quote the local press April 17, 2016:

A new $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission nearly completes the funding needed for the city’s passenger rail viability study. The grant was one of 13 totaling $3.3 million that Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday. It will be combined with a $250,000 grant received last year from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to help fund a study about bringing Amtrak rail service from Roanoke to Bristol and possibly linking to cities in Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky, according to Assistant City Manager Andrew Trivette.

You mean they never did a viability study BEFORE they spent $6 million on the old train station? They did this study before and it went nowhere. This is why Bristol and Southwest Virginia have the lowest incomes and ranks at the bottom of nearly economic statistic in Virginia and Tennessee. Nearly a billion dollars in various infrastructure and economic development projects has seen the region hemorrhage population with government transfer payments forming over 50% of the region's economy.

Blast from the past:

Governor McAuliffe Fraud and Hypocrite

Here is just the most recent nonsense that in the past hasn't produced stable jobs paying a living wage or no jobs at all to the general public - just those in the government grant money stream.

Often these dubious projects get multiple grants funding using one grant to leverage another grant. In this way a select few can funnel millions into their pet projects and keep the public out of the process.

Government is most of the economy in this region which is riddled with corruption, graft, and class warfare. A legion of consultants, non-profits, and contractors rake in millions delivering little to the average citizen. They have their economy, others work fast food or receive SSI.

And what of the $3.3 million in ARC grants pilfered by Governor Terry McAuliffe and associates? A press release by the good Gov. April 18, 2016 noted these valuable efforts at diversifying the failed Appalachian economy:

Big Stone Gap Visitors Center $85,931 - like the Trail of the Lonesome Pine outdoor drama and the Coal Museum this has been here in one form or another for years and has produced nothing.

Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine - Appalachian Medicinal Herb Growers Consortium – Phase II: Processing herbs and adding more farmers $125,930. You have to be kidding me - Chinese herbs?? This is complete nonsense like the $650,000 farmers market in Abingdon that's open one day a week. Total waste.

Henry County Bassett Historic Train Depot Restoration Project $500,000. Another useless train station that needs to be torn down and will like Bristol produce nothing. Been around for years and has produced nothing. But that is just beginning of this massive level of waste in Henry County:

Future phases will include more streetscape and façade improvements, trail links and the creation of venues to attract tourists in Bassett and Fieldale and signs in Stanleytown and Koehler.

In addition to the $700,000 Community Development Block Grant, additional funding for the first phase will be sought from other state and federal sources, community partners and area businesses.

The preliminary cost estimates for the entire $12.9 million revitalization improvements are: $7.6 million for Bassett, $4.9 million for Fieldale, $300,000 for Stanleytown and $15,000 for Koehler.

Hell this is costing even more than Bristol did.

Mountain Empire Community College Healthcare Simulation Access $100,000. Pork and a lucrative contract for the right people. This is in addition to a $72,309 grant from the Tobacco Commission - zero jobs for the general public again.

Town of Damascus Downtown Waterfront Asset Development $499,908. Total waste and pork. This is the same town the pilfered transportation and economic development grants to pay for a new library - where's the jobs? It's "transportation" due to a brochure rack near the door.

The Barter Foundation Inc. Expanding the Production Capacity of Barter Theater – Phase II $500,000. High class entertainment for the local wealthy and elite. This non-profit has been bailed out for years with economic development grants while those that were supposed to get a job can't afford to go there.

The Crooked (Money) Road Expanding the Crooked (Money) Road Brand $250,000. They've wasted millions on this worthless project already and can't produce a shred of proof of any job creation, etc. I asked for proof and they refuse to supply it. They won't even produce their IRS paperwork as required by law. This is more consulting and marketing income for a select few and has gone on for years. When do the working poor get a job?

Scott County, Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence – Duffield Satellite $142,937. This again is a few professional jobs for the selected few. We've had an identical center in Abingdon for several years wasting $4 million with nothing to show for it. The idea was to train people for non-existent jobs as a way to hopefully lure in jobs. Does that make sense?

New River Valley Regional Commission Old School Food Center at Prices Fork $500,000. They also got another $2.5 million for this insanity:

...converts the former classrooms of the old Prices Fork Elementary School into 16 two bedroom apartments, with 10 affordable and six market-rate units for people 55 and older. Phase I is funded in part with state and local HOME funds.

The second phase, which includes VCI funding as well as $500,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission funding, includes two components: (1) the Old School Food Center, which will provide innovative economic development opportunities for new or expanding local food-based entrepreneurs through the creation of a commercial incubator kitchen, farm-to-table restaurant, retail market, craft brewery and business competition with support services, and, (2) 16 new apartments with a mix of affordable and market rate units.

Would any serious private sector firm dare invest in such nonsense? They threw in the restaurant nonsense to qualify for economic development grants. And I thought Chinese herb farming was complete nonsense now I've heard it all.

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Planning Grants $122,625 - more consulting fees for the same select few.

This weekend (July 23) former Gov. Tim Kaine did years ago at Remote Area Medical in Wise, Virginia bitching about government healthcare - as he oversees millions in this kind of pork and waste that could have gone to help citizens that are not getting jobs and are in great need of dental care, etc. Medicaid and Medicare doesn't cover dental and most of the people at RAM are there for dental care because they lack the income to afford insurance. But I'm sure Chinese herbs will fix that problem right up.

Sprint Stabs Bristol Workers in the Back - Again

Update May 2016: they lied again. The promised 600 new jobs never materialized and by February 2016 the 444 people that were mainly transferred from Bristol Virginia are fired. Millions in corporate welfare to pay for the relocation went down the toilet and millions more will bring in another call center to rehire the same workers. Read more...

Update May 20, 2016 - 12 workers fired at Emory & Henry College due to "restructuring". This comes after weeks of hysterical hell raising by 200 poor little cupcakes (students) over "safe spaces" and demands for more "diversity" racism. This was over some bogus and unproven claims of widespread racism. Some vague claims about "racist graffiti spotted at a brick seating area...the incidents prove that while E&H is a diverse campus it lacks inclusivity, leaving minority students to feel marginalized."

Reports are unspecific as to what the incidents are and I believe overblown. Mere criticism of Islamic violence or a Donald Trump yard sign have been cited as racist on many college campuses. in a region with massive white working class poverty the only concern these little brats show is how coal mining leads to climate change and the industry needs to be shutdown - ditto concern for jobs losses and poverty.

Many nonsense liberal art degrees offered by this college are worthless in the real world. Many are left buried in debt. See College Job Unemployment Chart. In particular over half of humanities majors which is the mainstay of E&H are unemployed or flipping burgers.

That brings outright jobs losses in Bristol-Washington County 362 for May 2016 in the community, but not the slightest show of concern at Emory & Henry College.

Update July 2016: Here we go again another 180 layoffs May-July 2016. See the following:

Gateway Pages for this website:   » General Subjects
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New for December 2017:


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.