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Chris Hedges writes, "During the two years Joe Sacco and I reported from the poorest pockets of the United States, areas that have been sacrificed before the altar of unfettered and unregulated capitalism, we found not only decayed and impoverished communities but shattered lives."

Chris Hedges new book 'takes the reader through the most extreme 'sacrifice zones' in a country that is slowly hollowing itself out.' (illustration: Joe Sacco)
Chris Hedges new book 'takes the reader through the most extreme 'sacrifice zones' in a country that is slowly hollowing itself out.' (illustration: Joe Sacco)



A World of Hillbilly Heroin

By Chris Hedges, TomDispatch

22 August 12

 

uring the two years Joe Sacco and I reported from the poorest pockets of the United States, areas that have been sacrificed before the altar of unfettered and unregulated capitalism, we found not only decayed and impoverished communities but shattered lives. There comes a moment when the pain and despair of constantly running into a huge wall, of realizing that there is no way out of poverty, crush human beings. Those who best managed to resist and bring some order to their lives almost always turned to religion and in that faith many found the power to resist and even rebel.

On the Pine Ridge Lakota reservation in South Dakota, where our book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt opens, and where the average male has a life expectancy of 48 years, the lowest in the western hemisphere outside of Haiti, those who endured the long night of oppression found solace in traditional sweat lodge rituals, the Lakota language and cosmology, and the powerful four-day Sun Dance which I attended, where dancers fast and make small flesh offerings.

In Camden, New Jersey, it was the power and cohesiveness of the African-American Church. In the coalfields of southern West Virginia, it was the fundamentalist and evangelical protestant churches, and in the produce fields of Florida, it was the Catholic mass.

Those who are not able to hang on, fall long and hard. They retreat into the haze of alcohol - Pine Ridge has an estimated alcoholism rate of 80% - or the harder drugs, easily available on the streets of Camden: from heroin to crack to weed to something called Wet, which is marijuana leaves soaked in PCP. In the produce fields, drinking was also a common release.

In West Virginia, however, the drug of choice was OxyContin, or "hillbilly heroin." Joe and I went into some old coal camps, largely abandoned, and there it was as if we were interviewing zombies; the speech and movements of those we met were so bogged down by opiates that they were often hard to understand. This passage from the book is a look at some of those West Virginians, discarded by the wider society, who struggle to deal with the terrible pain of rejection and purposelessness that comes when there is a loss of meaning and dignity. Chris Hedges, August 2012

A Community on Overdose

About half of those living in McDowell County depend on some kind of relief check such as Social Security, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, retirement benefits, and unemployment to survive. They live on the margins, check to check, expecting no improvement in their lives and seeing none. The most common billboards along the roads are for law firms that file disability claims and seek state and federal payments. "Disability and Injury Lawyers," reads one. It promises to handle "Social Security. Car Wrecks. Veterans. Workers' Comp." The 800 number ends in COMP.

Harry M. Caudill, in his monumental 1963 book Night Comes to the Cumberlands, describes how relief checks became a kind of bribe for the rural poor in Appalachia. The decimated region was the pilot project for outside government assistance, which had issued the first food stamps in 1961 to a household of fifteen in Paynesville, West Virginia. "Welfarism" began to be practiced, as Caudill wrote, "on a scale unequalled elsewhere in America and scarcely surpassed anywhere in the world." Government "handouts," he observed, were "speedily recognized as a lode from which dollars could be mined more easily than from any coal seam."

Obtaining the monthly "handout" became an art form. People were reduced to what Caudill called "the tragic status of 'symptom hunters.' If they could find enough symptoms of illness, they might convince the physicians they were 'sick enough to draw'... to indicate such a disability as incapacitating the men from working. Then his children, as public charges, could draw enough money to feed the family."

Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as "the crazy check" - payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI - a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.

"They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check," the nurse says. "They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, 'I know I'm not right.' People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy."

The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl - 80 times stronger than morphine - Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold "pharm parties," in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.

A decade ago only about 5% of those seeking treatment in West Virginia needed help with opiate addiction. Today that number has ballooned to 26%. It recorded 91 overdose deaths in 2001. By 2008 that number had risen to 390.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in West Virginia, and the state leads the country in fatal drug overdoses. OxyContin - nicknamed "hillbilly heroin" - is king. At a drug market like the Pines it costs a dollar a milligram. And a couple of 60- or 80-milligram pills sold at the Pines is a significant boost to a family's income. Not far behind OxyContin is Suboxone, the brand name for a drug whose primary ingredient is buprenorphine, a semisynthetic opioid. Dealers, many of whom are based in Detroit, travel from clinic to clinic in Florida to stock up on the opiates and then sell them out of the backs of gleaming SUVs in West Virginia, usually around the first of the month, when the government checks arrive. Those who have legal prescriptions also sell the drugs for a profit. Pushers are often retirees. They can make a few hundred extra dollars a month on the sale of their medications. The temptation to peddle pills is hard to resist.

We meet Vance Leach, 42, with his housemates, Wayne Hovack, 40, and Neil Heizer, 31, in Gary. The men scratch out a meager existence, mostly from disability checks. They pool their resources to pay for food, electricity, water, and heat. In towns like Gary, communal living is common.

When he graduated from the consolidated high school in Welch in 1987, Leach drifted. He went to Florida and worked for the railroad. He returned home and worked in convenience stores. He held a job for 11 years for Turner Vision, a company that took orders for satellite dishes. He lost the job when the company was sold. He worked at Welch Community Hospital for six months and then as an assistant manager of the McDowell 3, the Welch movie theater. His struggle with drugs, which he acknowledges but does not want to discuss in detail, led to his losing his position at the theater. He is preparing to start a course to become licensed as a Methodist minister and serves the two local United Methodist churches, neither of which muster more than about a half dozen congregants on a Sunday. The 20 theology classes, which cost $300 a class, are held on weekends in Ripley, about four hours from Gary.

Leach is seated in his small living room with Hovack, who bought the house when his home was destroyed by flooding, and Heizer. Hovack was given $40,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Authority to relocate. Heizer tells us how he almost lost his life from an overdose a few weeks before.

The three men are the sons and grandsons of coal miners. None of them worked in the mines.

"My dad worked with his dad," Heizer says, nodding towards Leach. "My grandfather died in the coal mines in 1965. He had a massive heart attack. Forty-nine years old."

"It was good growin' up in McDowell County twenty-plus years ago," Leach says.

"Except for when the mines would go on strike," adds Hovack. "That was rough. I can remember that."

"Welch used to be a boomin' place," Vance says. "When you went to Welch you really thought you went somewhere."

"Used to be about three thee-ay-ters in Welch many, many years ago," Leach says.

"All them stores," says Hovack. "I can remember my mom goin' to take me to Penny's and Collins. An' H&M. But when the U.S. Steel cleaning plant went out, that was it for this county."

"I went to school here in Gary, and when the plant closed down I was 'bout twelve or thirteen and my friends in school would say, 'My dad and mom, we're movin' 'cause they have to go look for work," Hovack says.

"You seen a lot of people depressed after that, wonderin' how they were gonna make it, how they were gonna pay their bills, how they were gonna live, how they were gonna pay their mortgage," says Leach. "It was devastating. A lot of people didn't have a good education, so there wasn't anything else to turn to. The coal mines was all they ever knew. My dad, he didn't finish high school. He quit in his senior year, went right into the mine."

Heizer speaks in the slowed cadence of someone who puts a lot of medication into his body. He recently lost his car after crashing it into a fence. His life with his two roommates is sedentary. The three men each have a television in their bedrooms and two more they share, including the big-screen television that, along with an electric piano for Hovack, were bought with Heizer's first disability check. The men spent the $20,000 from the check in a few days.

"I became disabled back in late 2006," Heizer tells us. "I had degenerative disc disease and I hurt my back. I was workin' at this convenience store. They knew that I had a back injury, but yet they had me come in on extra shifts and unload the truck. Now I've got four discs jus' layin' on top of each other, no cushion between them. For three years I lived here without an income, and my dad helped support me, and then last November I finally was awarded my disability."

Heizer, who is gay, saw his drug addiction spiral out of control four years ago after his boyfriend committed suicide. He tells us he has been struggling with his weight - he weighs 324 pounds - as well as diabetes, gout, and kidney stones. These diseases are common in southern West Virginia and have contributed to a steady rise in mortality rates over the past three decades.

OxyContin takes a few hours to kick in when swallowed. If the pills are crushed, mixed with water, and injected with a syringe, the effect is immediate. Heizer says that after the drug companies began releasing pills with a rubbery consistency, they could not be ground down. Heizer heated the newer pills in a microwave and snorted them - leading to his recent overdose. It took place at his mother's house. He went into renal failure. He stopped breathing. His kidneys shut down. He was Medevac'd to a hospital in Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, where he stayed for four days.

"I was just sittin' around watching TV and started aspiratin'," Heizer says flatly. "The medication was goin' into my lungs. You gurgle with every breath. You are drownin', basically. I remember walkin' down my mom's steps and gettin' in the ambulance. I remember at Welch, they put me on the respirator and then transferred me. After they put me on the respirator, I stopped breathing on my own. And then I remember in Charleston wakin' up an' they had my hands restrained so I wouldn't pull the tubes out. I had a real close call."

The men sit in front of their flat-screen television and chat about friends, classmates, and relatives who died of overdoses. Hovack talks about a niece in her early twenties, the mother of two small children. She recently died of a drug overdose. He tells us about a high-school classmate, an addict living in a shack we can see from the window. The shack has no electricity or running water. The men, who rarely leave the house, mention the high bails being set for selling drugs, with some reaching $50,000 to $80,000. They joke about elderly grandmothers being hauled off to prison for drug dealing.

"I've seen a lot of busts in the county over the last few years, and a lot of the people that have been arrested are elderly people that are sellin' their medication just to live," Vance says. "When I was workin' at the hospital I seen ODs all the time. Young people were comin' in. It's bad. The depression and the pain. I guess some people that hang and live in this area, they just have to turn to somethin'."

"Since the drug problem is so bad you see the crime rate as well," Leach says. "People breakin' into homes, stealin' whatever they can to sell or pawn, just to keep up with their drug habit."

Heizer, seven weeks later, dies of a drug overdose, sitting on the living room couch in front of the big-screen television.

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+68 # df312 2012-08-22 09:55
Anybody think we don't need to bring back jobs to America?
 
 
+30 # X Dane 2012-08-22 23:50
df313.
Of COURSE we do. This article makes me cry.This is what happens, when people have lost ALL HOPE and dignity. These are human wrecks. They have given up fighting, for there IS no more to hope for, for them.
I am sure, when they still had dignity.
they would much rather work than get assistance

I am surprised by the lack of compassion by so many here. I am no bleeding heart liberal. I worked hard for what I now have. But I was also lucky to live in an area, where I was ABLE to start a business,

Lots of people would gladly work hard, and so many do, without being able to get ahead, because the work they can get pays so little.

A lot more people will fall into deep poverty, and they may not be able to move to where they MIGHT find work, because that costs money and they don't have it.

I DO understand when people bury their head in a bottle of booze or pills. There comes a time when a human being can't take anymore, cracks and gives up.

Please have some compassion with those who fell through the cracks
 
 
+22 # genierae 2012-08-23 09:34
I was raised in W.Va. and I had an uncle and aunt who lived in Shady Springs, outside of Beckley. He was a coal miner all of his life, and died of black lung after he retired. None of his kids were miners, two of which graduated from college, one is now a professor. When I lived there, poor people would rather starve than take government welfare. They were honest, hard working, and respected by their fellows. All they ever wanted was a good job with which they could support their families. We see in this story just how harmful Republican right-wing ideology has been to poor and working-class Americans. Shipping their jobs overseas, while enabling their addictions by allowing drug treatment centers to go unfunded.

Eleanor Roosevelt came to Appalachian W.Va. in the 1940's, where she kissed my uncle Julius on his cheek in appreciation of his fiddle playing. Her husband made great strides in easing the lot of the poor, he was a Democrat. My father benefited from his programs, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corp, allowing him the dignity of work during hard times. We are facing in November, a stark choice between life or death for countless Americans. If Mitt Romney is elected, the poor and working classes, and even the middle class in this country, will suffer great hardship and calamity. President Obama is still our only hope for the future.
 
 
+6 # RLF 2012-08-24 06:10
What we really need is to get rid of the title CEO. Fewer executives means more good paying jobs. They are mostly dick heads from the ivy league that don't do much if anything.
 
 
+32 # tomtom 2012-08-22 10:09
Well, what do you know; and I thought the massive use of drugs, amongst my friends in San Diego, California, in the 60's up till today, was a unique phenomenom. Houston, we have a problem!
 
 
+19 # robniel 2012-08-22 14:02
You are correct. Houston (Harris County) does have a problem, but the use of alcohol and DUI incidents far outweigh the Rx drug problem even though the area is also plagued by pill mills and their get-rich-quick practitioners. Meanwhile a (new) nearby drug treatment center in Montgomery County sits unfunded.
 
 
+14 # soularddave 2012-08-22 22:15
For the record, this is NOT an isolated instance. It's in small towns and large cities. In poor neighborhoods and rich. Inner cities and suburbia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhgdZHPxYds&feature=player_embedded#!
It's tough seeing people become addicts. I never imagined such a thing.

BTW, politics is more a productive use of idle time than religion. I'm sorry, but I believe we've failed each other.
 
 
+14 # X Dane 2012-08-23 12:36
robniel.
That is IT. the people need HELP, and as genierae mentioned, the job core! We should certainly revive that. There is so much to be done, and lots of people who needs work.....That would surely improve the economy. AND LIFT ALL BOATS.

That is the total opposite of the republican TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMY....SO
Of course the republicans do NOT want to do it. They WANT the country plunged into despair, so they can triumphantly proclaim that Obama is incompetent and bad for the country

WE realize that. I hope the rest of the country would begin to understand, but because of the many uninformed voters....I am not holding my breath.

Robniel, you mention the drug treatment center being unfunded. Too many will rather throw people in prison for drug offenses, than treat them and eliminate the problem, although it is much more expensive to keep a person in prison.

Private for profit prison may have something to do with that. Republicans want to privatize EVERYTHING, making us all poorer and the country dysfunctional.
 
 
+6 # indio007 2012-08-22 10:44
An idle mind is the devil's workshop.
 
 
-8 # Rick Levy 2012-08-22 21:53
Why is acceptable for Hedges to use terms like "hillbilly" heroin and criticize shiftless whites? Imagine the outrage if he had written about "black crack" and "lazy African-America ns".
 
 
-5 # LML 2012-08-23 01:33
As a former West Virginian I have to admit that I am very uncomfortable with this intellectually lazy way of lumping everyone in WVa together under this insulting term....
 
 
+13 # ghostperson 2012-08-23 03:50
Because its called "hillbilly heroin." Didn't notice you being offended by references to Indians. If it were called "Black crack," why couldn't the name be used. He did not use quotation marks by which he called any one shiftless. You are just spoiling for a fight.
 
 
+3 # JackB 2012-08-23 10:52
It's only racism if the target is non-white.
 
 
+7 # soularddave 2012-08-23 16:23
It's just a name, but watch out. These episodes are just that, episodes in a progression, and new drug dealers are on the way. As noted in my post above, HEROIN is next. I've seen it here in St. Louis. Go to YouTube and search for "Suburban Junkies".

In this venue, we have to be able to call it like we see it and we'll be using the lingo that we know from our observations. This is just social science. Most of us try really hard NOT to be unduly rude to anyone and still get our points across. Please bear with us as we try to sort things out.
 
 
-62 # jtatu 2012-08-22 10:44
Unfettered and unregulated capitalism? Are these people just kidding or are they mentally challenged?
 
 
+37 # Virginia 2012-08-22 11:50
The right-wing capitalists would rather control abortion because they can't make money on it like they do drugs. Crack, Ice, Meth, Salts, Heroin, Cocaine, Oxi, prescriptions, laced Pot - there are more selections in drugs than soda pop. why should they add war on drugs to their party platform. It takes money to control the problem and they lose money in the process... Money laundering is all part of their capitalistic function.

There are a myriad of reasons for the drug increases, not the least of which is depression. Losing your home, family, wars, despair, fear - and then the added hormones to foods - all under the name of Capitalism.
 
 
+61 # lizzievie@aol.com 2012-08-22 10:56
unfortunately the drug companies were allowed to make oxy and similar drugs 4 times more addictive yet not any more efficient in its job of killing chronic pain.... so who is the real drug dealer we should be afraid of?
 
 
+8 # JackB 2012-08-22 11:51
How do you know it is 4 times more addictive but no more efficient at killing chronic pain? I am not saying you are wrong. I don't know. I am simply curious. Pain tolerance varies from person to person & not all pain has the same cause. Perhaps it effectiveness varies depending on what is being treated.

Aside from my curiosity I think the question is important. If the drug is really 4 times more addictive & of no greater benefit than other drugs it should be banned. Not only would it have no value, it would be a net down.
 
 
+84 # noitall 2012-08-22 10:57
This is the existence for Americans that have been used, abused, and decieved by the likes of Mitt where there is no loyalty to the workers, only lust for the dollar, looking three months ahead, buying, stripping, and selling businesses; cutting the workers loose to meet their own ends. As usual, they become a burden to the tax payers and the tax avoiders move to where there are workers forced to work for even less. And they want to cut "entitlements" (except those for the wealthy, who have created this nightmare). No responsibility is placed on the businesses that leave, no responsibilty for the workers left in the lurch, no responsibility for the ruined environment, no responsibility for repairations. This is the new America that Romney wants to perpetuate. In the Northwest, Puget Sound is not suitable for humans. Dioxins, PCBs, etc. pollute the shores, the rivers and the Sound. A billion tons of toxins flow into the Sound annually and the Association of Washington Businesses fight tooth and nail to stop the cleanup laws from raising the amount of seafood that is safe to eat from 6.5 grams/day, the size of an oreo, to 175 grams/day because it will require them to discharge fewer toxins into the waterways. In W. Virginia it is coal, in Puget Sound it is salmon but the outcome is the same. Tribal treaties are broken resulting in an environment in which ALL THE PEOPLE are being poisoned. Ever wonder why there is so much cancer? Cancer is 'overhead'.IT IS TIME TO STAND UP!!
 
 
+4 # X Dane 2012-08-23 21:28
noitall
you are painting a grim picture, indeed, of an area, I thought was beautiful and wholesome. I am stunned. There are so many places in our gorgeous country that greedy STUPID PEOPLE HAVE DESTROYED, and unfortunately also made a lot of our citizens ill.

What in the world can we DO to STOP the MADNESS We need these lawyers, who are going after the big food companies, who are "polluting" our food....to also pay attention to your area and start a class action suit.

What do you think, noitall?? We need to hit the polluters where it HURT, the pocket book!!
 
 
+4 # RLF 2012-08-24 06:18
Greedy, stupid people have destroyed parts of the country because those people ASKED them to do it. They voted for the A-holes. They are still voting for the A-holes! Until they wake the hell up this country is on the road to ruin...and almost there. (They voted for Clinton and Bush...both A-holes)
 
 
+7 # RLF 2012-08-24 06:15
Americans are uneducated morons and PROUD OF IT. When they start paying attention things will change. I'm waiting for that day...and I can't believe the idiot Bush wasn't enough to make people start thinking...if for no other reason than the financial hole he put us in.
 
 
+28 # reiverpacific 2012-08-22 11:23
Final drug-doses are delivered by the "Flat screen televisions" -I often wondered how these folks afforded them-. No wonder these people, if they vote at all, will likely vote for the most superficial, anti-government (although they depend on it), status-quo, slick-looking candidates. Yet limitations are set on what can be bought with food stamps -why not with disability checks which, from the large payouts, I assume is back-dated to the original application date.
Yet the very people who condemn these "parasites" are Romney and his people-purging sidekick Ryan, with the aid of the Koch's and other big power-brokers, -the same who send American blue-collar and middle-class jobs overseas and are working to knock the stuffing out of education and opportunity except for the wealthy and their favored spawn, by eliminating the arts and humanities, and any other mind-engaging and creative ways of uplifting those at the bottom of the social heap.
I don't like these handouts but what gets me is the total lack of imagination or political will to do anything lasting and uplifting.
I've been trying to get a "Healing clay" program going with the battered women's shelter and released prisoners in the area where I live and am meeting with resistance by the political system in all sorts of negative ways. It works too, having helped a couple of people to get their own small enterprises going at minimum cost.
But that's outside the box a bit, innit!!??
 
 
+22 # geov 2012-08-22 11:28
I am *so* tired of writing like this. By focusing on the drug abuse, rather than the reasons for it, Hedges is feeding into the inevitable political response. Restoring jobs is hard (and inconvenient). Cracking down on drugs is easier, and makes some people a lot of money.

The problem, in this case, is that the main drug Hedges focuses on OxyContin, also helps a lot of people (like me) who otherwise wouldn't be able to live a normal life.

Hedges gets some facts wrong - all forms of oxycodone take 30 minutes to kick in (not hours) - you can set your watch by it - and I take upwards of 40 pills a day (for the various impacts of two organ transplant, a stroke, three types of cancer, and a dysfunctional immune system) and I talk perfectly normally, thank you. But more importantly, his choice to focus on the symptom rather than the disease does an enormous disservice to the far larger number of people for whom opioids are a blessing, not a curse. Beyond getting my health care paid for (a separate, much longer rant), the biggest challenge in my care is providers and insurers who don't know my history and who are more concerned about the DEA or my potential addiction than my ability to lead a functional, less pain-filled life. And hysterical articles like this one both fuel and justify those attitudes. Thanks a lot.
 
 
+17 # Linda 2012-08-22 13:17
I think thou does protest too much !

I think Hedges made it perfectly clear that the alcoholism and drug addiction is but a symptom of the real social and economic problems we have in this country sense many jobs moved to foreign countries leaving workers without work to provide for themselves and their families . Desperate times makes people do desperate things !Not to mention depression and a feeling of hopelessness !

geov if I told you there was a way to rid yourself of pain or at least minimize it without drugs I seriously doubt you would believe me because your addiction needs them !
I suffer from spinal stenosis ,degenerative arthritis and tendonitis so I do know all about pain!
These pain clinics are there to make money off of peoples misery !
I have personally seen too many lives destroyed by these clinics,one is a close family member . Hedges was right on about the slow movements and incoherent speech.
Many ,"but not all," of these patients are heroin addicts who are over medicated and use these clinics to get their high legally and free !

Yes something needs to be done to help these people and give them back the will to live and become productive in society ! Unfortunately the cure they are using,"these clinics," is their poison,
it does nothing to address the underlying issues !
 
 
-93 # barbaratodish 2012-08-22 11:31
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao
 
 
+66 # treadlightly 2012-08-22 11:33
Thank goodness you have overcome your ego problem.
 
 
-52 # barbaratodish 2012-08-22 12:06
Quoting treadlightly:
Thank goodness you have overcome your ego problem.

You are right, how egotistical of me to use my NAME MY REAL NAME instead of an anonymous "HANDLE" like "treadlightly"! But I guess it's OK to tread heavily on someone who takes responsibility for their opinions! Maybe YOU. whoever YOU are, "treadlightly" (HA!) should consider a "handle" change, to your REAL name, if you have one, but then again, maybe your real name HAS you!rotflmao And, to those who give a thumbs down to "me" because I have the emotional courage of my convictions, and/or a thumbs up to treadlightly for "HIS" ANONYMOUS JUDGEMENT about ME,( the real NAMED ME,) YOUR THUMBS, up OR down, HAVE YOU because your ANONYMITY has YOU!
 
 
+33 # vergez 2012-08-22 14:05
No one is giving you a thumbs down because of your name. Rather that you think simplistically enough to think that people in REAL poverty can't afford alcohol or other seemingly "luxury" items. It might be good for you to experience some of this firsthand so you'd have a less naive thought process. People starving in Africa, India, and the good old US of A still find access to something to numb the pain, one way or another.
 
 
-18 # barbaratodish 2012-08-22 15:37
Quoting vergez:
No one is giving you a thumbs down because of your name. Rather that you think simplistically ...It might be good for you to experience some of this firsthand so you'd have a less naive thought process...one way or another.

Instead of YOU, anonymous vergez making the judgements about WHO is "...thinking simplistically, experiencing... a less naive thought process..."the judgements are making YOU!Ive been homeless and alone with $5.00 to my name! I walked miles until my feet were rubbed raw, going from where I was turned down for a cot at a homeless mission (I needed to be there at 8AM to sign up, I got there after dark). I attempted suicide because the pain of my heart breaking made me feel that since zero individuals seemed to care about me, why should I care about myself. As some lyrics in a song go: "You can't give love that you never had!" Of course, "people" (I use the word advisedly) like you, ANONYMOUS vergez, will most likley say, it's just my perceptions of never having been loved and Like my older brother and most other CALLOUS "people" who are, at best PRACTICING TO BE human, say"Get over never being loved! Well this IS how I "GET OVER" never being loved ANONYMOUS vergez, I now love MYSELF and tell (almost) everyone else that they are CALLOUS!lmfao. AND,if you have a problem with that,or if rsn.org does and moderates this to be "disappeared" then that just proves, to me at least, that you are DEFENSIVE ABOUT BEING CALLOUS!
 
 
+32 # noitall 2012-08-22 15:49
Don't worry about one on welfare having an ego problem. In order to get welfare, the system makes sure your ego is well trodden upon. I'm 64, when I was 10 or 11, my dad had an especially bad fishing season and applied for welfare. They required him to sell his boat and all his gear, use the money and then apply. Dad told them that he'd pass; if he sold his gear, how would he make a living in the future? We toughed it out and made it through. A year or two later, we got running water and electricity. This is on an Indian reservation in the good old USA. All too many still to this day don't have those conveniences. When the shit hits the fan, I'll survive because I lived it before. I pity those who have never had it tough because those days are coming back and coming fast. Take your drama and ego and see what that'll buy you at the company store.
 
 
+21 # Linda 2012-08-22 13:24
Bravo treadlightly you hit the nail on the head !
 
 
+21 # treadlightly 2012-08-22 11:48
Odd that I ran across this right after having a discussion with a friend about people on assistance need (for their own self worth) to give back to the community. I am 55 and remember my father going ballistic about the welfare state the country was becoming 45 years ago. I thought he was just an angry old man who resented having to work so hard to support a wife and 5 children. That was part of it, but I am now seeing where he was right. People need to contribute to their own welfare to the best of their ability. Time for some public works programs. Oh, and drugs are bad. OK?
 
 
+3 # ghostperson 2012-08-23 03:54
Read Morris Berman regarding "core and periphery." These people are periphery.
 
 
+14 # Virginia 2012-08-22 11:56
An IQ without street smarts still leaves you with an airhead. Empathy is experienced, not a genetic gift.
 
 
+2 # RLF 2012-08-24 06:23
You just described the Ivy League!
 
 
+14 # rebelgroove 2012-08-22 12:30
@barbara; it is a true pity that you have lived your life without ever knowing 'want'. I pray that one day you suffer like these folks have suffered and that whatever faith you pretend to subscribe, and perhaps then wisdom will find you ...
 
 
-25 # barbaratodish 2012-08-22 19:28
Quoting rebelgroove:
@barbara; it is a true pity that you have lived your life without ever knowing 'want'. I pray that one day you suffer like these folks have suffered and that whatever faith you pretend to subscribe, and perhaps then wisdom will find you ...

If you care to ever become aware of how
arrogant you are to make a judgement about me, or even about yourself without knowing anything about me, or obviously yourself either, you can look me up on google by my real name as it appears at rsn.org instead of a coverup, and learn that I was homeless,alone and as a result of great, almost absolute poverty experiences, both growing up and throughout most of my life, I have finally learned empathy, but I have learned it for MYSELF, instead of wasting ANY energy on ANYONE ELSE! Hope everyone get's "here" someday, because it is self validity and freedom from defensiveness-o h and you find your sense of humor when you lose everything else, especially judgmental comparisons of POLITICALLY CORRECT MORALITY that are distractions!
 
 
+8 # ghostperson 2012-08-23 04:13
It is not often that one sees such rage in print as is evidenced by that of your correspondent. As for using or not using one's name, it is the readers' personal choice to identify themselves in whatever manner they wish. It it not another's job to criticize such choices. For example, I do not find it to be my business to accuse the correspondent of screaming in her entries by randomly capitalizing words.
 
 
-12 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 07:32
Quoting ghostperson:
It is not often that one sees such rage in print as is evidenced by that of your correspondent. As for using or not using one's name, it is the readers' personal choice to identify themselves in whatever manner they wish. It it not another's job to criticize such choices. For example, I do not find it to be my business to accuse the correspondent of screaming in her entries by randomly capitalizing words.

I use my name, my real name, Barbara Todish. It must make you, ghostperson, so defensive that you choose to call me correspondent. You, ghostperson, must be so anonymous to yourself that you even fear using someone else's real name. rotflmao
 
 
0 # ghostperson 2012-08-25 20:30
No I can use real names: Todish v. Cigna, 206 F. 3d 303 (C.A. 3, 2000).
 
 
+19 # rebelgroove 2012-08-22 12:32
The real issue is big pharma, and the corrupt FDA which today encourages profit over responsibility ... doctors are rewarded for pushing certain medications over others and these 'care-givers' are probably most corrupt of all ...
 
 
+16 # Old Man 2012-08-22 15:36
Quoting barbaratodish:
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao

"Holy Molly" some people have the ability to step over someone laying on the side walk....they wouldn't want to dirty themselves with Poverty, now would they?
 
 
-22 # barbaratodish 2012-08-22 19:40
Quoting Old Man:
Quoting barbaratodish:
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao

"Holy Molly" some people have the ability to step over someone laying on the side walk....they wouldn't want to dirty themselves with Poverty, now would they?

Old Man when you dare to risk having you real name attached to your opinion, then maybe I will consider it coming from a HUMAN BEING, until then instead of making judgments, judgments make Old Man!rotflmao
 
 
+7 # noitall 2012-08-22 15:39
Barbaratodish, maybe you should try experiencing REAL poverty. Obviously you aren't poverty-striken today but don't be so sure you won't be tomorrow. Drugs and alcohol and even gambling are phenomena of poverty. Republicans (classic self-proclaimed self-made, [as if]) are always ready to put down misery as self inflicted. "Drama and Ego?" really? You don't know REAL poverty although you might after Mitt's 4 years.
 
 
+18 # angelfish 2012-08-22 18:58
Quoting barbaratodish:
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao

I'm surprised at your vehemence and anger over this article, Barbara. You usually offer very fair-minded, rational feedback but I don't understand your RAGE. I believe most people will go for the "quick fix" of drugs and alcohol when all they've known is failure, rejection and hopelessness. I saw so much of it in my 26 year career as a Psychiatric Nurse. True, the Welfare System sometimes adds to or complicates the problem, but when there are NO alternatives offered other than the Drug Modalities, I think it's hard for people to try and pull themselves up by bootstraps they don't, and never WILL, have! It takes a lot more than Drama and Ego to overcome generations of poverty, ignorance and neglect. Where are the Re-education Programs, Vocational Training etc, to HELP these people pull themselves OUT and OFF the treadmill of failure that has been their sole existence? "Normal" people can't find jobs! Poverty and ignorance are RAMPANT in this Country today and you don't have to be poor or underprivileged to display it, as evidenced by Mr. Akin's latest take on "legitimate" rape. I hope we can fix it, all I HAVE is hope.
 
 
-10 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 07:07
LIQUOR drank me,drugs took me!I was missing MY VALIDITY!THE SOCIAL CONTRACT TOLD ME TO LOVE MYSELF IS SELFISH!I internalized THAT I MUST HAVE relationships not an ABSOLUTE LOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH ME! I believed I was SUPPOSED to LOVE OTHERS not me!I looked for approval,I judged me by others rules not mine.NOW I HAVE a real me,I perceive failure,rejecti on,hopelessness to be ego,drama.THE SOCIAL CONTRACT's THE PROBLEM!It's PRACTICING TO BE A CONTRACT!I CHOOSE A SELF VALIDITY CONTRACT!Educat ion was INDOCTRINATION. Vocational training was bullying others &/or me! No INTERVENTIONS please, telling me I'm wrong @ MY PERCEPTION or YOU'RE the BULLY trying to make ME DENY ME!Maybe you're like I was:MY RELATIVE INDOCTRINATED IDENTITIES:my race,gender,eth nicity,religion ,etc.My parents CALLED "LOVE" discipline that was supposed to make me FIT IN,it made me feel guilty!I was INFECTED with the guilt of ORIGINAL SIN: KNOWING theres a self that needs TO emerge TO BE loved! I'm indoctrinated to not love me.I kept having HOPE INSTEAD of ABSOLUTELY LOVING ME!People are bullies.Bully(& )ette-in-chiefs :DR.PHIL,Judge Judy are MASQUERADING.Th eir interventions are BULLY interventions,b ully judgments! But Society causes everyone to bully THEMSELVES &/or each other.BECAUSE I express opinions instead of keeping them inside of me as intrusive thoughts where they would fester, cause cancer.Even if you bully me ABOUT MY Opinions,it's better than being eaten away inside by stuffing my feelings,my emotionsa!
 
 
+5 # X Dane 2012-08-23 12:46
Barbara.
It is very difficult to read your comments because it looks like a big HEAVY block.
Especially because so much is capital letters. It would be easier if there were segments.
I'm just trying to be helpful.
 
 
+6 # rebelgroove 2012-08-23 14:21
There is no argument if you need to bring in a religious idea into it. Religions are beliefs and as such have no shred of 'truth'. The idea of original sin is utterly stupid, and doesn't deserve the ink or bits it takes to write it.

And the constant uppercase simply denigrates from your argument.

By the way, I was judging your words not you. I think you still have some work to do if you can't make that distinction.
 
 
-10 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 18:24
Quoting rebelgroove:
There is no argument if you need to bring in a religious idea into it. Religions are beliefs and as such have no shred of 'truth'. The idea of original sin is utterly stupid, and doesn't deserve the ink or bits it takes to write it.

And the constant uppercase simply denigrates from your argument.

By the way, I was judging your words not you. I think you still have some work to do if you can't make that distinction.


My words write ME! lmfao
 
 
+6 # angelfish 2012-08-23 15:40
Why can't you love others AND yourself, Barbara? Why does it have to be ALL or Nothing? This is a FREE Country where you're FREE to express yourself however you wish. The ONLY thing you are responsible for is YOU! Other people CAN'T make you feel bad unless YOU let them! You don't have to care what ANYBODY else thinks or says. I just don't understand where all your RAGE is coming from. Sorry for all your pain. Peace.
 
 
-11 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 18:21
Quoting angelfish:
Why can't you love others AND yourself, Barbara? Why does it have to be ALL or Nothing? This is a FREE Country where you're FREE to express yourself however you wish. The ONLY thing you are responsible for is YOU! Other people CAN'T make you feel bad unless YOU let them! You don't have to care what ANYBODY else thinks or says. I just don't understand where all your RAGE is coming from. Sorry for all your pain. Peace.


If you sense rage, perhaps YOU are PROJECTING what is in YOU! rotflmao
 
 
+3 # angelfish 2012-08-23 20:12
God KNOWS I have anger but I know WHERE it belongs. I don't have to RAGE against EVERYONE. One of the reasons I LOVE RSN is because I can VENT in a healthy way, hopefully WITHOUT getting hateful, smug and nasty, which we ALL do on occasion.
 
 
-8 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 22:28
Quoting angelfish:
God KNOWS I have anger but I know WHERE it belongs. I don't have to RAGE against EVERYONE. One of the reasons I LOVE RSN is because I can VENT in a healthy way, hopefully WITHOUT getting hateful, smug and nasty, which we ALL do on occasion.


Perhaps instead of HAVING your anger, your anger has YOU! lmfao If you can be so sure that you know where anger belongs, then surely your name should be Shirley! You could always say, tho, Don't call me Shirley, "CALL ME MAYBE"
 
 
+3 # angelfish 2012-08-24 01:10
Quoting barbaratodish:
Quoting angelfish:
God KNOWS I have anger but I know WHERE it belongs. I don't have to RAGE against EVERYONE. One of the reasons I LOVE RSN is because I can VENT in a healthy way, hopefully WITHOUT getting hateful, smug and nasty, which we ALL do on occasion.


Perhaps instead of HAVING your anger, your anger has YOU! lmfao If you can be so sure that you know where anger belongs, then surely your name should be Shirley! You could always say, tho, Don't call me Shirley, "CALL ME MAYBE"

I surrender. You've got me beat. I don't know what you're talking about. Good luck to you. With all the hilarity you're finding, I'm surprised you have ANY "fa" left to laugh off.
 
 
0 # ghostperson 2012-08-25 20:29
Todish v. Cigna, 206 F. 3d 303 (C.A. 3, 2000) speaks for itself.
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2012-08-26 15:45
Quoting ghostperson:
Todish v. Cigna, 206 F. 3d 303 (C.A. 3, 2000) speaks for itself.
Ghost person, "cherry picked" from the 50 pages on me at google.com instead of saying what I HAVE accomplished since I called MYSELF in the court case referenced above. I've refused to "go along to get along" all my life. I'm considered disruptive because I CHOOSE to be emotionally ALIVE instead of emotionally dead LIKE A GHOST PERSON!lmao Ive been a professor, written books, I now do stand up comedy. EVERYONE needs to try to SURVIVE anyway they can and to avoid being defensive about it, too! I'm on disability BECAUSE "THE SOCIAL CONTRACT" is a BULLY contract and you just proved it, because anyone that admits reality, namely ANY VULNERABILITY at all has a hard time getting and keeping a second chance to start over because "people", usually ANONYMOUS COWARDS,keep pointing out their prior vulnerabilities and this keeps people like me from being ABLE start over unless they HIDE and/or live with another name,a coverup that can always make them defensive and subject to blackmail!I prefer to live my life OPENLY, with all my FLAWS being transparent:I was homeless and alone and attempted suicide, then I became a sex worker for a few months in 1986, and as a result of being open about this in newspapers I'm practically unemployable, but at least I can BE myself instead of HIDE behind an anonymous "GHOST" writer name! rotflmao See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XegltDJLUHo
 
 
+6 # KrazyFromPolitics 2012-08-22 19:21
Quoting barbaratodish:
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao

I am humbled in the presence of god. Do we genuflect or kiss your ring? Truly transcendent people are occupied with being transcendent, not telling others to be transcendent.
 
 
-12 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 18:50
Quoting KrazyFromPolitics:
Quoting barbaratodish:
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao

I am humbled in the presence of god. Do we genuflect or kiss your ring? Truly transcendent people are occupied with being transcendent, not telling others to be transcendent.

I SO want to share my transcendence and my ring with others but instead of kissing my ring, my ring kisses me! rotflmao
 
 
+5 # dkonstruction 2012-08-23 10:04
Quoting barbaratodish:
BS Chris Hedges! Anyone who has money enough to spend on alcohol is overdosing on DRAMA and EGO! Real POVERTY and REAL trauma, if you survive it, that is, makes you TRANSCEND ALL ego and drama and any and all "PITY PARTIES! Maybe YOU, Chris Hedges, need some transcending of your own ego and drama?????? lmfao


On what basis can anyone claim that if you have "enough to spend on alcohol" that you are not suffering from "real poverty" or "real trauma?" Or, that that their "real" problem is that they are "overdosing on drama and ego?"

do you make any distinction between "pity parties" and having any sympathy or empathy for others (particularly those currently less fortunate)?

Finally, who amongst us flawed mortals can ever "transcend all ego?" Are there others who you would say have achieved the same state of being and if so who; i'm curious?

Note that i am not attacking, judging you or questioning how much you have or have not suffered in the past...i take you at your word for all of that...rather, i am simply respectfully asking questions about your stated positions in response to Chris Hedges' piece.
 
 
-8 # barbaratodish 2012-08-23 19:43
"If you have enough to spend on alcohol" you're not suffering from real poverty,real trauma...they are overdosing on drama and ego?
Finally, who... can ever "transcend all ego"?
Maybe there is RELATIVE quality of life issues and ABSOLUTE life, death issues.I endured poverty,homeles sness,suicide attempts,sexual assaults,muggin gs,etc., experiences that were close to life, death issues.I'm grateful I survived. What others might consider trauma I saw as drama &/or ego. @ Pity Parties:I used to feel sorry for my "victim" self,then I realized that instead of having my victim self, my victim self HAD me.All pity parties began to disappear when I allowed my VALID(absolute to me)self to emerge. Then I could LOVE ME & PAY ATTENTION TO ME,instead of NEEDING (almost)ANY external attention-what I call ego and drama-this is close to being the ABSOLUTE ME. I occasionally transcend ego when I ALLOW myself to be totally,emotion ally vulnerably,pres ent in glorious spontaneity!Fin ding my sense of humor&finding others who are free to risk BEING their ABSOLUTE (dark -i.e., their politically incorrect, etc.&light side humorous self)validity gets me VERY close to transcending all ego but granted there is always the need for basic survival so the transcending is too fleeting,unless there could be a utopia where there is love, cooperation instead of what we have now,fear,cut throat competition.Goo gle Barbara Todish for my books i.e., Transcending Competitive Chaos, etc(my books write me!lol)
 
 
+25 # LML 2012-08-22 11:37
"About half of those living in McDowell County depend on some kind of relief check such as SOCIAL SECURITY, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, RETIREMENT BENEFITS, and unemployment to survive."
I protest strongly against characterizing earned Social Security and earned retirement benefits as "some kind of relief check"....
If this is what even WE call them, it is no wonder that the Repubs feel encouraged and emboldened to try to eliminate these EARNED BENEFITS !!!!!
 
 
+19 # Anarchist 23 2012-08-22 11:43
'America, where are you now? Don't you care about your sons and daughters/ Don't you know, we need you now. We can't fight alone against the Monster' Steppenwolf 'Monster' album-1976

This country and the 1% who run it (into the ground!)have abandoned unto death the citizens of their nation. Land of the Free? Home of the Brave? If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you!
 
 
+12 # Smokey 2012-08-22 11:57
Chris Hedges and his associates have raised a lot of good points. I'll respond to a few.

SURPLUS POPULATION: Karl Marx used to talk about the capitalist response to "surplus population." From time to time, the capitalists decide that there are "too many people" in a particular area. Sometimes people are put on the dole - in particular, in situations where their labor may be needed at the some future date - and sometimes they're kicked off the land and pushed into cities. It's an old story in rural areas. Ask your grandparents.

ABORTION: (Hot topic.) Liberals think that "abortion is progressive." Radicals know that, often, abortion is used to control "surplus population." In America in the 21st century, abortion rates are especially high for minorities and for the poor. No, it's not just because of lack of access to contraceptives. Research shows that
low-income and minority group women often question their ability to support children. (During slavery times, women often refused to bring children into the world because they knew that their children would be abused.)

Solution? Women need access to contraceptives and to adequate health care.... They also need a lot more....
High abortion rates in minority communties are symptoms of big social problems. This isn't "liberation."
 
 
+22 # Old Man 2012-08-22 13:24
Wow! These people are between a rock and a hard place waiting to die.
The problem is they've lost all hope of ever getting out off the hole their in due to the free enterprise system that refuses regulation.
Deregulation is the demise of America. This country was not founder on capitalism and shouldn't be run or controlled by it. So what the Hell are we doing even considering a Romney, Ryan ticket.
These type of people ( Romney, Ryan ) have gutted this country and have taken advantage of all the deregulation over the last two decades to profit themselves and leave the middle class smaller and smaller. It's sad that it has come to this.
We have a president with great ideas and constipated congress that are addicted to large corporate money that are only looking out for themselves, not you or me. We need to "change congress" not the Presidency.
 
 
+5 # LML 2012-08-23 01:25
Re: Lost hope....

When I moved to West Virginia in 1971, unemployment was at 12% statewide....No w the rest of the country is catching up!!

....Easy to lose hope after more than 40 years....
 
 
+3 # LML 2012-08-23 16:56
Oh yes, and that 12% was only the folks who were officially unemployed & still looking for work -
As we know, the unofficial and invisible unemployment rate is always much higher....
 
 
+18 # reiverpacific 2012-08-22 14:23
I think that the point Hedges was making is that most people need to be needed, useful, contributory, even if it is only doing a menial or repetitive task that can at least support them and/or a family.
When the incentive is taken away, as it is increasingly while real-wage jobs become less available, depression and a feeling of uselessness, "why am I here?" and sometimes suicide takes over and not everybody has the will to keep trying nor the courage to take the final exit. -I mean anybody who has not been living under a rock lately knows how far off and under-reported the unemployment statistics are and how they don't reflect the increasing number of people who have given up looking.
I know that I've been fighting depression for quite a while and have begun trying to help others in what I hope is a meaningful way which gives me a bit of self-worth.
"Treadlightly" touches on the nub of it with the mention of PUBLIC WORKS which would fulfill a desperate need to repair and renew a crumbling infrastructure, and the parallel need to create truly meaningful jobs as well as rebuild communities. I've been advocating for this for a couple of years now and it seems to me not to be simply common-sense.
Power-seeking plutocrats don't care to see happy, self-sustaining people able to travel cheaply and efficiently and communicate readily -that's dangerous!
I've been to Pine Ridge and lived in Appalachia and it's truly abominable and anger-making.
 
 
+17 # stonecutter 2012-08-22 15:23
I'm a movie buff, so after reading this piece, I'm reminded of Spencer Tracy as the lead tribunal justice in 1961's "Judgment at Nuremberg", when he says in his sentencing summation that a country " is not a rock, or an extension of one's self" but it is defined in the larger world by "what it stands for!" and the United States "stands for justice, truth, and the value of a single human being."

OK, this is a movie, but a pretty damn powerful one that has stayed with me for 50 years, as an American Jew and as a U.S. Air Force Vietnam-era veteran stationed for 3 1/2 years in, of all places, West Berlin.

I do not condone or trivialize drug or alcohol abuse; a sibling was an addict whose life was severely damaged as a result. But I understand the torment of these people, the sense of hopelessness and powerlessness they must feel trying to survive in a part of this country abandoned by industry and left to rot. Of course many, if not most will sink into despair, a state of mind for which all manner of drugs and alcohol are well-suited companions.

If our nation still stands for the principles articulated in that movie, then it's imperative our government rise above its current mindless gridlock and meet the challenges of this era, including the kind of vision already demonstrated by FDR in his New Deal. If anyone believes that kind of vision is not required NOW, the programs that flowed from it unnecessary, they are a blind fool, or worse.
 
 
+18 # futhark 2012-08-22 15:37
I was on prescribed OxyContin for several weeks two years ago while hospitalized for cancer chemotherapy and surgery. It was very effective in numbing down the pain. The nurses kept urging me to take more, even after I was discharged. I didn't really know what the stuff was, but I had to make a deliberate and conscious effort to stop taking it, as I had enough problems in my life at the time to take on a drug dependency on top of everything else.

The fact that people will make a choice to use this stuff is evidence of how our society is not adapted to deal with the real needs that people have for security and happiness. Abuse of OxyContin is a symptom of social disease.
 
 
+16 # wfalco 2012-08-22 18:24
Hedges is writing about complete and absolute alienation of a segment of our population. In this example its the subculture hillbillies. He could have written about inner city Blacks. He could have written about the New England "white trash" in towns(such as Lowell, Mass.) where the mills are long gone.
The issue is not specifically the pills or drugs that are swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. It is not the alcohol that is guzzled or the imagined deities located somewhere up in the heavens. A subculture of "No where men" is increasing in size. They exist for the easiest way out.
There is no hope. The idea of "hope" is likely laughed about in a haze of opiate induced oblivian.
 
 
+1 # cordleycoit 2012-08-22 19:46
Welcome to the America of the future. The corrupt politians broke us. They stole our savings then they got handouts from the Bush /Obama camps and now their coming at us again. Obama ran on hope then ran us over turning on the printing press. Bush was an out and out crook like Romney and Company. Obama is grifting like the Clintons. We are living choiceless choice.
 
 
+2 # genierae 2012-08-23 12:04
And so cc, because Obama isn't perfect, we should just give up and surrender to our fate? The "America of the future" is not up to President Obama alone, it is up to all of us. Because he has flaws, just like the rest of us, we have abandoned him to the vicious smear campaign orchestrated by the right-wing extremists. If he loses the election, we all lose, and we lose big. You need to stop being so negative and do everything you can to elect Democrats. They are the ones who will lead us out of this mess that Bush got us into.
 
 
+11 # michellewey 2012-08-22 20:02
It may be that I will be guilty of gross generalities with my two cents here but I have been strongly opposed to the ever increasing use of pharmaceutical drugs in our society. I think advertising of pharmaceuticals should be outlawed. I usually focus more on anti-depressant s and anti-anxiety type medications. I am not an expert on oxy-contin but I am aware that is a drug that leads to addiction for many. What I want to say is way back when Bush became president for the first time, I cynically observed that there must be a connection between the country being on anti-depressant s and Bush winning the presidency. Meaning, we are being doped into apathy. It's a kind of consipiracy theory. This article reminded me of that theory of course. And I shouldn't be surprised to learn that the poorest communities in our country are totally dependent on public assistance, victims of prescription drug addictions and vote republican.
 
 
+11 # reiverpacific 2012-08-22 20:20
Quoting objectiveobserver1:
It may be that I will be guilty of gross generalities with my two cents here but I have been strongly opposed to the ever increasing use of pharmaceutical drugs in our society. I think advertising of pharmaceuticals should be outlawed. I usually focus more on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety type medications. I am not an expert on oxy-contin but I am aware that is a drug that leads to addiction for many. What I want to say is way back when Bush became president for the first time, I cynically observed that there must be a connection between the country being on anti-depressants and Bush winning the presidency. Meaning, we are being doped into apathy. It's a kind of consipiracy theory. This article reminded me of that theory of course. And I shouldn't be surprised to learn that the poorest communities in our country are totally dependent on public assistance, victims of prescription drug addictions and vote republican.

This does not happen in countries with single-payer or universal health care as there is no incentive to heavily advertise and flog -sorry, heavily and repeatedly sell- what is prescribed by doctors only under strict supervisory laws, where doctors get to do their jobs without the approval of big pharma' and insurance.
This is one of many cases where the profit motive should be regulated as the right thing to do but profit doesn't know the meaning of that term.
Again, only in America.
 
 
+8 # DPM 2012-08-22 20:20
"Take away their 'hand outs' and they will have to get jobs!"

Paid for by the Romney for President committee.

I am sure Romney and Ryan would approve of this message.
 
 
0 # Linda 2012-08-25 12:42
What jobs ? The ones they will send to China and other foreign countries ?
In time we might have to move to one of these foreign countries to find a job as corporations gain total rule of our government especially under Romney and Ryan !
 
 
-11 # egbegb 2012-08-22 21:21
barbaratodish - your comments are excellent.
This is one of the very few articles I read from progressives that includes details of how people have shaped their own lives. I would very much like to read all of the interviews Chris Hedges did with people from West Virginia.

Most of the comments to Chris's article have nothing to do with the content.

Ed
 
 
+7 # ProfessorJack 2012-08-23 10:50
I agree that most comments have little to do with the subject, but it inspires me to see with my own eyes how many people both read Mr. Hedges's dispatches, and also feel sufficiently moved to speak up. We are not alone.
 
 
+5 # Painter 2012-08-23 20:48
I am with riverfish and stonecutter and all the others here who "get" that the depressing situation some of our fellow citizens are in is about hope and dignity. I believed with my mind that people who destroyed themselves and ended up permanently dependent on aid had reasons. Now I have actually experienced a tiny bit of the hopelessness and loss of dignity others have experienced much more of. All it took was 9 months of not finding a job and the threat of another lay off in the family! If I can keep going, it's because my image of myself is still not smashed and because we still have options, like selling a house and living in a trailer or with family members, few of whom are poor. What if I had never had reasons to feel valued, had never gotten a decent education or had had no roll models at all around me? If everything around you has been and is sad and hopeless, you're facing a challenge even this white woman couldn't handle.

Bottom line: If our society and therefor our government cared about all of its citizens at least enough to provide decent health care, healthy food they could afford and decent educations in facilities that respected their dignity, almost all would have the dignity and hope needed to want to lift themselves up and contribute their best this (hypothetical) just society.

Maybe the rich SUPER fear being poor in this heartless society, even if they've never been poor and insecure or known many who are.
 
 
-2 # hobbesian 2012-08-24 06:28
This is imossible.
 
 
+4 # Nwi2kan 2012-08-24 09:36
Having close relatives who live in a nearby county as well as parents born and raised there I can say that the churches in the Coalfields are of limited assistance as well. Having been to some services as a Midwestern visitor the emphasis is on reaching "the pearly gates" and "the rapture" and "nothing can be done about your problems in this life." This leads to a 1)fatalistic attitude regarding the land and people around them and 2)that God is one of violence and condemnation instead of a God of love. Whoever acts and lives outside of the literal interpretations of the Bible that suit them will burn in hell.

I felt very badly about Mr. Heizers situation there. No one else here has noticed or cared that being an openly-gay man (at least open to a national writer) is to live a special type of hell in southern WV. I would bet the house he had been told all through life he was worthless and going to burn in hell for being who he was; not to mention verbal or physical attacks. How do I know? On my last visit to relatives in that nearby WV county I was subjected to a Sodom-and-Gomor rah speech by a religiously amped-up relation during a dinner that featured pork products (also condemned in the Old Testament).

This fatalism, ignorance and bigotry, along with terrible schools, will continue to keep outsiders from investing in the area..other than companies that are out for temporary cheap unskilled labor.
 

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