Sunday, March 1, 2009

Poverty in Appalachia, Kentucky

The issue I will be discussing is poverty, specifically that of Appalachia Mountains in Kentucky as portrayed in an ABC Documentary and report.

The Video clip I will be using as an additional resource was found on YouTube.

In a recent report done by ABC’s Diane Sawyer, the people of the Appalachia Mountains were followed and closely studied for two years prior to the documentary being aired on television. A day before the documentary was aired; Sawyer was a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s segment, ‘Unresolved Problems’ to discuss the poverty issue and living conditions of the children in Appalachia.

In her documentary, Sawyer highlights a few prominent problems if not factors to the increasing poverty situation in the area of Kentucky. In doing so, she interviews approximately five children and teenagers on their lives, their family and their status two years ago and then currently in 2009. Of the most significant problems is prescription drug addiction, toothlessness due to the addiction of sugary soft drinks such as Mountain Dew, and more importantly, Sawyer’s assertion that America has forgotten about these ‘people of the mountains;’ more importantly, its children.

Even before Sawyer is introduced from a previous episode showing, O’Reilly states that poverty is unsolvable; there is nothing to be done. While much aid is given to the poor domestically and abroad, in the form of contributions and monetary aid, poverty cannot be resolved. During the actual discussion, O’Reilly raised the question, why Appalachia? Such living conditions and numbers of people living in poverty are not seen in the Rocky Mountains or the Sierra Mountains, so why Appalachia? Furthermore, he draws on the explanation that people, who live in an area that does not produce any source of productivity in terms of money or success or basically a future, usually move out and go elsewhere; rather, than remaining in an area that has seen poverty for almost 200 hundred years.

That is an excuse, Mr. O’Reilly, not an explanation.

Without spoiling too much of the documentary for those who have not watched it, Sawyer’s piece only highlighted about five children and their families, much of which were extended families. So you’re talking about at least seven people under one roof. Additionally, the purpose of the documentary was to show how in midst of all this drug abuse, poverty stricken place, there are children willing, ready and able to get out of Appalachia to become something successful, contrary to what O’Reilly stated.

Some of the families are getting better and have increased in bettering their lives and solving their domestic problems. But once again, they are just a tiny fraction of the larger amounts of people and children who are struggling and living each day with still such poor conditions.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Yes these children are trying to get a better life and get out of Appalachia, but isn't that the problem to begin with? Most of the children who grow up in Appalachia and have the ability to go out into the country and make a better life usually do. This creates a problem because the people who have the ability to fix the poverty problem in Appalachia are all leaving. The problem is not just poverty, it's the self reassurance that someone will come and save us. The people of Appalachia (for the most part) do and always have believed that someone or something will come and save them. If you don't see this look at the building of Spec buildings waiting for businesses to move in and create tons of jobs. Or look at the continuous boom and bust cycle of coal industries in the region. Once coal is gone people begin to say "If we could just get the coal companies back than we will all have our jobs back". This is not true, the system that has been set in place by all of the problems going on in the region will not let one great thing save the whole system in Appalachia.
    For instance with the woman in Sawyer's interview who is trying to get off of drugs, you can cut down on the excessive amount of prescription drugs being given out by doctors, but you fail to cut off the funding coming to the doctors form the drug companies who love to promote new drugs in Appalachia. Just looking at one part of the whole problem might stop that problem, but it will only create more ways around it.