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Portsmouth, Ohio

It’s the end of the day, but I didn’t want to turn in without telling you about a story I first read this morning, but haven’t been able to forget about. Chris Arnade — follow him on Twitter [1]writes a piece for The Guardian based on his visit to Portsmouth, Ohio [2] — a small city devastated by drugs. It used to be a manufacturing town. Then the factories left. Now it’s Rust Belt ruin, and narcotics. Read:

On my first night in town, a beat-up car parks next to me, positioned in the darkness cast by my van. The passenger, a middle-aged woman, injects the driver in the neck. He stays still, head tilted to expose a vein, as she works the needle in, while two young boys play in the back seat.

Done, they pull away as I try to fool myself into thinking I didn’t see what I saw.

For six days in Portsmouth, over three trips, I keep trying to fool myself. Eventually, I am unable to just watch and listen.

He sees a homeless young couple pushing around their two children in a shopping cart as they beg for money. He calls them “James” and “Meghan,” and talks to them:

I continue to see them over the next few days along a commercial strip, Meghan standing by the side of the road holding her sign, staring straight ahead, her expression vacant, while James pushes the cart with the kids in it, collecting bottles and cans. Sometimes he stops to let them play.

One afternoon I run into him in the McDonald’s bathroom, filling plastic bottles with water to clean his children.

Outside I ask him more questions about his situation, and he tells me his history with drugs. “I was born in Portsmouth and raised around drugs. Everyone used them. My father drank, and I started drinking when I was a teenager. Then started Percocets when I was 19. Then I moved to the harder stuff like Oxy 80s, then heroin.” I ask him if he still uses drugs, “No, I don’t. Well, only Suboxone [an opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction]. I buy it from the street since I don’t have a prescription.”

Most drivers ignore the family. Police pass without stopping. One woman drops off two slabs of bottled water, and a minister inquires about their condition, but otherwise they are unseen. I think about calling child protective services, but it is clear James cares and is attentive. I also assume I am missing part of their story. Surely others have called. Perhaps others have inquired more than I have. Perhaps things are more complicated than what I see.

Besides, there is so much visible pain in Portsmouth, it is hard to focus on any one situation.

Later, Arnade meets and interviews Kim, a beautiful young woman, only 19 years old, recovering from heroin addiction. She lives with her grandmother Vickie, who has had custody of her since she was one. Kim had her first child at age 15. She now has two. More:

[Vickie] is retired after 28 years as a cook in the school system. When I ask if there are drugs around, she laughs. “Oh honey, yes, this is Portsmouth. This is the armpit of Ohio.” She points to the neighborhood. “Everything around here is dope-town. Xanies, Oxys, meth, we got it all. Nothing for kids here. When I was young we had dances at the community centers. Now they have nothing. No work around here unless you are a nurse, or a doctor, or lawyer.”

Vickie doesn’t do drugs (“except for my smokes”), and so she has become the de facto mother for an entire neighborhood, a calm center in a tornado. That tornado eventually pulled Kim in. “When I adopted Kimberly, I promised her mom I would keep her in her life. Biggest mistake I made.”

Kim gets up to chase after a child and comes back. “I would go hang out at my mom’s trailer, with all my cousins. We would play there, spend evenings there. It is where my mom got me on heroin. At 13. My mom was doing it. Everyone was doing it. I wanted to do it because I thought it would be fun.”

You’ve got to read the whole thing [2] — especially for the ending. What would you have done in that situation?

This is our country today.

I wonder what the people of Portsmouth, Ohio, have to say about whether or not Donald Trump’s job should be at risk for what he supposedly said to James Comey.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your article about Portsmouth, Ohio. I’ve lived in the Portsmouth area for my entire life (I’m 35). I’ve been a daily reader of your blog for the last 2 or 3 years.

This area needs all the help it can get. In a lot of ways, living here makes you feel like you’re cut off from the rest of America. Change happens all around the country, but nothing ever changes here. Not for the better. Things just slowly get worse. The stories that are told in the Guardian article have been realities for as long as I can remember. I remember friends discovering drugs in middle school and becoming burnouts in high school. I’ve found needles lying in my front yard while cutting grass. I’ve seen police raid the house across the street. I have friends and family members that are in and out of rehab or have died from overdoses. Recently, I found someone lying in a parking lot with her eyes rolled back into her head and had to call an ambulance. I suspect she had overdosed as well.

I don’t want you to think it’s all bad, though. There are good people here. Many are trying to help out, but it’s hard. The drug problem is overwhelming. It touches everyone. Good jobs are scarce and there is a constant threat of layoffs, leaving most people to struggle to take care of their own families. I know of several instances where grandparents are taking care of their grandchildren because the birth parents were addicts. The story that J.D. Vance tells in Hillbilly Elegy is common here.

There are good churches in the area too, but the congregations are dwindling. Most of the people my age or younger leave for Cincinnati, Columbus, or Dayton as soon as they graduate college if they are able. This leaves a large generational gap in the local congregations. The majority of the people are either retired or nearing retirement age. But many are active in the community. Our small church has people involved in visitation, rehab, and foster care. Some of the younger couples have adopted children whose parents were involved in drugs. We all want to make a difference, but it’s hard when our resources are so limited.

As far as Trump is concerned, I don’t think anyone here really cares about the events that transpired between him and Comey. Like I said before, issues like that seem so distant from us that they may as well be happening in another country. If anything, most people simply hoped that he would bring jobs back to the area. I think many of us knew that wasn’t going to happen. It never happens. But there was a sense of optimism during and after the election. That’s gone now. Personally, I have never believed that the president or the federal government was going to solve our problems. Since I’ve graduated high school, both a Republican and a Democratic president have been in office for two consecutive terms and nothing has changed. Like J.D. Vance, I don’t know the answer to the riddle of my community, but I do think the solution is going to have to come from the community itself.

I apologize for rambling on longer than I should have. I had intended to keep this short. Again, I thank you and the author of the Guardian article so much from bringing us to the attention of a national audience. It gives me great hope that people are starting to notice the problems that we face. I hope that God uses this to bring help to our community.

UPDATE.2: Sam M.:

Rod, you blogged earlier about the piece in the NYT Magazine about the rise of polyamory. New York Magazine has an interesting supplement to that. It’s a review about a memoir in which a middle-aged woman discovers that she can act like a lecherous middle-aged man:

http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/05/female-sexuality-desire-what-happens-as-women-age.html [3]

This is seen as a huge victory. In a sense it acts as an extended restatement of the Law of Merited Impossibility. “Nothing about your marriage is going to change based on what other people do. But when it does your open marriage in which it’s OK to make out with short story writers from California will be awesome!” Like year health plan? You can keep your health plan!

This is not an argument for or against gay marriage. Rather, it simply reaffirms your continued insistence that the culture moves in broad, glacial shifts we cannot predict. Elites, like the lady mentioned here, are almost completely insulated from the more dire impacts of a consumerist approach to morality and family life. But other people are not.

Sorry, Portsmouth, Ohio. Sorry about your Mountain Dew mouth and your meth addiction and your dire family straits. On the bright side, when you use drugs you can be accepted for who you are, including your imperfections. Which is great!

Just stay out of my neighborhood, you know, because the Dean at Pierson College at Yale let me know that you don’t know squat about Japanese ice cream treats. Loser! Enjoy your freedom from the patriarchy, though!

131 Comments (Open | Close)

131 Comments To "Portsmouth, Ohio"

#1 Comment By A.K. On May 18, 2017 @ 10:33 pm

I don’t think he should have contacted CPS. When I was in a similar situation I did not contact CPS. Foster care comes with a host of its own risks. That’s one reason why children are not automatically removed from all homeless parents. He admitted himself the father was attentive caring and loving. I don’t think he should have taken the risk. Just my opinion.

#2 Comment By carr klaub On May 18, 2017 @ 10:43 pm

I read the piece in the Guardian when it came out and reread it yesterday. Then I read your update from the person who wrote “from Portsmouth Ohio.” The saddest thing is that the reply from Portsmouth could have come from any innercity, like Baltimore or Boston, and from anytime in the last 20 years. Generations destroyed by drugs? Incarceration? Joblessness and hopelessness? Yep and yep.Under Republicans and Democrates, nothing changes for the better but gets increasingly worse.
So what so we do now that white blue-collar America looks a lot like black inner-city America? We pit those people against each other, blame the victims and watch the billionaires divide every larger spoils. Elect a corrupt business man or a lying lifetime Washington insider-nothing is going to get better for you. Unless there is some profit to be made from helping you. Remember, the opioid epidemic made lots of people very rich.
The saddest truth about the US today is that all the people from the middle down are blaming each other and pointing fingers at the other losers in a rigged system and letting the status quo and the wealthiest stay on top. Meanwhile blaming it on welfare, unions and teachers. What a sham.

#3 Comment By anori On May 18, 2017 @ 11:21 pm

I’m mostly with Hound of Ulster, except for 16 and 32. The electoral college prevents New York and California from dominating the country, which I certainly believe to be a good feature of our system. As for drugs, why are heroin and cocaine worse than anything else? Alcohol does a massive amount of damage, yet it is legal. And the prescription drug problem has been discussed many times on this blog, but those drugs are legal too. And I would hope that most people agree that it is better for addicts to be able to take pills than to inject heroin, which has major health risks precisely because it’s illegal (lack of certainty about how pure it is, etc.)

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 19, 2017 @ 12:23 am

If we’re voting on the Cuhulain Platform, I vote yes on 1-4, 6-8, 11-12, 15-16, 20-21, 23-29, 31-33. Which mostly just goes to show that Americans have lots of different takes on things, and nobody gets things just the way their individual little heart desires.

I’ve made my positions on Roe and Obergefell clear many times. I won’t rehash them now. I wouldn’t set ANY budget by saying “cut this in half,” which is something like what Trump is doing now, except not to the military. A military budget needs to take a sober look at what the military is actually doing, what we really need it to do, and what will it cost to do that right — like any other budget line.

We cannot live longer, lower the retirement age, and keep social security solvent. If we live longer, we need to work in some way that contributes to the over-all resources available to live on. Of course with sufficient automation, we might be able to do the work necessary for humans to perform between 25 and 50 and relax after that, but we need to detail how it will all be funded.

I don’t support the global elite economy, but tariffs can generate a great depression. We need to put the corporate elites on a short leash, not choke ourselves into isolation to spite them. They’ll still be eating well while we’re all unemployed.

Making legislative bodies unwieldy large is no solution to anything. And the Second Amendment is fine, we need to introduce viewpoint-neutral time, place and manner regulation — which is even allowed under current jurisprudence for free speech.

Sales taxes have their place, although as adjuncts to a good progressive income tax. My state exempts food, clothing, medication, which I think is appropriate. But they do provide some local flexibility, and can be a good source for funding transit.

#5 Comment By Scott Lewis On May 19, 2017 @ 3:42 am

Funny how all these articles about white drug addiction show up in the NYT, Guardian, Wapo etc. Shadenfreude and voyeurism of the worst sort. Of course the writer congratulates himself on how morally superior he is to the residents of Portsmouth for calling child services than slithers back to whatever hip city neighbourhood he lives in. What is needed in America and the West to address the current state of moral and societal collapse is a Year Zero type scenario. Ctrl+Alt+Del

[NFR: He certainly does not do that. That’s a ridiculous slander. Do you even follow his work? — RD]

#6 Comment By Elijah On May 19, 2017 @ 7:03 am

@ Siarlys – Bernie could never make the numbers “work”, not by a longshot. It’s why ultimately his candidacy never stood a chance. His Democratic Socialism was always going to run into the Margaret Thatcher Problem, i.e. he would have run out of other peoples’ money.

I do think Sanders held some generally popular positions (universal healthcare, ending civil forfeiture, ending corporate welfare, etc.) but far too much of his platform revolved around an even more massive bureaucracy. That is not going to sell unless Washington can convince the Rest of Us that they can complete even basic tasks with consistency and competency. Elizabeth Warren does/will have the same problem: the solutions she proposes all end up with “Trust us, the government.” I just don’t see that as having broad appeal.

On another note, I am not a Trump supporter, though I did vote for him over the alternative. Someone above asked what Trump has done for people in inner cities. Really? Four months in and you expect the man to have solved the inner city drug issue?

#7 Comment By muad’dib On May 19, 2017 @ 7:25 am

17) increase the House to 855 members

Why 855? what’s the logic behind that number? Do you have a population to legislator ratio in mind?

BTW Decent list, will never happen as long as it cost a few million to get elected to the house.

#8 Comment By M_Young On May 19, 2017 @ 10:03 am

“Move. I’ve said it many times. All of these sad people, I grew up with them, my friends died in hs from heroin, etc.

You move! ”

Except that many of the working class jobs in booming places have been taken by foreign immigrants. For example, construction provides a semi-decent wage in SoCal, enough that you can at least rent a place in a non-super dysfunctional neighborhood. But immigrants have 1) depressed the wages and 2) formed networks to where Mexicans are literally cut out from jobs before they are advertised.

I am not saying immigration policy (and lack of enforcement of the policy we have) is the primary reason for the ‘plight’ of the non-coastal white working class, but it is a significant contributor.

#9 Comment By M_Young On May 19, 2017 @ 10:10 am

“M_Young: If Trump in securing the southern border would indeed help places like Portsmouth, Ohio.

Illegal immigrant labor isn’t the problem in Portsmouth.

Nor will its poor suddenly find good-paying jobs and become good, salt-of-the-earth, God-fearing folk if you somehow cut off the local drug trade. More likely, they’ll just turn to alcohol, meth, and whatever they can procure/make locally”

Maybe some would. Maybe some wouldn’t. Heroine is seen by most people as something very difficult to quick and very dangerous to take. Making it less available would likely have significant effects on the numbers who get hooked on it. Mexican cartels dominate the meth trade, too, so again, border security could help in reducing addiction to that drug.

As for immigrant competition for jobs, see my post above. It is entirely possible that some enterprising young American whites, and blacks, might move to California if 1) wages differentials were high enough and 2) working class jobs in traditionally higher paying and more male fields like construction weren’t monopolized by immigrant networks.

#10 Comment By russ On May 19, 2017 @ 11:05 am

@Elijah:

Elizabeth Warren does/will have the same problem: the solutions she proposes all end up with “Trust us, the government.” I just don’t see that as having broad appeal.

I was part of the gov. bureaucracy, doing work I see as an unfortunate but necessary function of the Federal gov. (writing Endangered Species regulations).

I see calls for massive gov. programs and I laugh/cry thinking about the certain incompetency of such huge bureaucracies. The Feds should only be used for absolute necessities. I think this view is not going to win the day, though, even though it seems so obvious to me. The government will soon run health care, for instance. With how terrible the mixed-up private/public system we currently have is, it will probably be better than what we have now, though at great cost. Then we’ll get more expansion of the “safety net”, probably in ways that will further discourage participation in the labor market, necessitating further expansion of the safety net. That will blow the lid off the public’s remaining small government leanings.

Keep resisting, but we’re on our way to a huge, centralized government. Some of us think we’re already there, but it’s going to balloon in the near future.

It probably seems, to folks like Siarlys, that we’re never going to arrive at the utopia I am describing. What I see as a slippery slope, he probably sees as an uphill battle 😉

#11 Comment By Gretchen On May 19, 2017 @ 11:12 am

People who voted for Trump because of his promises about the opioid epidemic are starting to realize they were betrayed as the starts to enact policies that will worsen their situation by far: [4]

#12 Comment By Gretchen On May 19, 2017 @ 11:16 am

Elijah: four months in and he has taken steps to make the inner city drug issue much worse. One problem in the inner city is the mass incarceration of low-level drug offenders, with the disruption to their lives and families that causes. Former inmates have a hard time getting hired for jobs, causing them and their families to struggle with poverty. Trump’s administration is doubling down on the War on Drugs that has been such a disaster. They are also proposing massive cuts to medicaid, including drug treatment programs. So yes, we can judge him four months in.

#13 Comment By JonF On May 19, 2017 @ 11:34 am

SamM, it’s possible that there are high doses of suboxone that produce a high, or maybe there are ways of modifying it that do. However BY DIRECT OBSERVATION of the friend I mentioned, and by his own testimony which I trust, he does not get high off it (he takes it as directed– the guy is not stupid, he;s actually fairly bright). I can tell the difference easily between his behavior now and when he was doing heroin. It’s night and day. The stuff does work! So hell yes, I am making a case for it. Seeing is believing, you know. If some people are abusing it– well, that’s bad, absolutely, but there are people who brew meth out of Sudafed too– But you will only get the sole effective sinus decongestant away from me when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Re: At best it was a double edged sword.

Sigh. Life is a double edged sword– no one gets out of here alive. But in the meantime we do the best we can. And sometimes things even work out. Again: do not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

#14 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 19, 2017 @ 11:44 am

Hound’s wish list numbers 16 and 17 have me thinking. Instead of these legislators and representatives running one per district, have at least some run on state wide party lists. This may give minority “third parties” some legislative traction.

I’d prefer proportional representation, personally.

One of the arguments against proportional representation is that it gives ‘extreme’ parties like communists, ethnic nationalists, religious parties etc.. a voice at the table. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but if you do, isn’t it better to have ethnic nationalists have a party of their own, win 35% of the vote on their own merits, and then have to deal with other parties, rather than infiltrate one of the two major parties and win the presidency, even when most Americans oppose their ideas?

Proportional representation would give extreme factions a voice proportional to their popularity, no less but also (and this is important, if you’re a fan of the moderate centre) no more.

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 19, 2017 @ 11:47 am

On another note, I am not a Trump supporter, though I did vote for him over the alternative. Someone above asked what Trump has done for people in inner cities. Really? Four months in and you expect the man to have solved the inner city drug issue?

If you’ll recall, he promised in his convention speech (which I actually read and watched part of, sue me), to have solved the problems of the inner city the day after his inauguration.

Of course it was bloviation, but a more competent politician wouldn’t have made that promise to begin with.

#16 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 19, 2017 @ 11:50 am

If we’re voting on the Cuhulain Platform, I vote yes on 1-4, 6-8, 11-12, 15-16, 20-21, 23-29, 31-33.

I’m in favour of most of the Cuhulain Platform, except for legalizing ‘most’ drugs, and raising the retirement age. I also don’t really care about the electoral college one way or the other.

#17 Comment By JonF On May 19, 2017 @ 12:45 pm

Re: In the near future whites will have to abandon the burbs and repopulate the urban neighborhoods they once ran away from.

The suburbs are not the problem– assuming they are in prosperous metro areas. There are lots and lots jobs located in suburbia outside the urban core.

The problem areas are A) deindustrialized areas that have nothing else, like a university, to recommend them (e.g., Youngstown OH) and B) rural areas, like the town of Portsmouth in the story. These days a rural town keeps its head about water only because of three things: It’s in a touristy area (my step-mother’s home town of Charlevoix MI is an example) B) There is some sort of large government facility nearby (military base, prison…) or C) it’s close enough to an urban area where it can serve as a distant exurb for people who either don’t care about a longish commute or who can telecommute most days of the week (Rod’s St Francisville may be an example– it’s not impossibly far from Baton Rouge).

#18 Comment By mrscracker On May 19, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

Elijah,
I kind of like Bernie Sanders just because he seems to have integrity and he’s not afraid of being a character.
But I question the economics, too.
Just to mention, I heard him speak at a union rally at an auto manufacturing plant in MS where workers made $ 24. – $30. per hour. I realize the issue was more about forming a union than pay scale, but I kept hearing stuff about fighting for a “living wage” and saw t shirts in the crowd with “College Students Against Slave Wages.”
🙂
I won’t live long enough to earn that kind of money per hour and that probably describes any number of folks in MS, too.

#19 Comment By JonF On May 19, 2017 @ 12:47 pm

Amhixson I am describing neoliberalism as it was originally formulated and sold to left-of-center people like myself (I once supported such a program back in the 90s). And as it is in fact practiced in a number of nations abroad– e.g., Germany. As for who opposed the ameliorative aspects of neo-liberalism, so much so that those measures have been forgotten, I’ll make this simple: the GOP, at the behest of the paymasters, who wanted the benefits of the program without paying its bills.

#20 Comment By inthepines On May 19, 2017 @ 1:54 pm

Elijah, the Federal Government solved the air pollution problem, made headway on car safety problems, created the middle class after WW2 (largely through the GI bill and high taxes on the wealthy), used to run a terrific postal system (til Republicans deliberately ran it down), landing on the moon…

If our government isn’t trusted to solve problems, it’s largely because 1. there is constant propaganda from private and political interests lying about this, and 2. there are a lot of private interests who don’t WANT manufacturing to come back, or wages to go up, and have been fighting since the 1980’s to make sure that the government doesn’t take any effective measures to fix things.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 19, 2017 @ 2:37 pm

His Democratic Socialism was always going to run into the Margaret Thatcher Problem, i.e. he would have run out of other peoples’ money.

Margaret Thatcher always did have a problem with putting her mouth in gear before her brain was engaged. That empty statement was as lacking in substance as it was ignorant. Capitalism is all about enriching an elite with someone else’s money.

Hector and I have gone to some lengths to distinguish between spending all the capital on bread and circuses (e.g. Venezuela) and operating a good capital expansion and maintenance budget, while spreading the profits out to all who actually contribute to making production happen. Chris Hani gave a talk along those lines to the South African Chamber of Commerce, shortly before he was murdered. I believe it was the only time a communist party general secretary was invited to address a chamber of commerce luncheon anywhere in the world.

Could you please add up Bernie’s numbers, and show us where they don’t match?

#22 Comment By JEinCA On May 19, 2017 @ 4:59 pm

It sounds like hell on earth.I think a mountainside goatherding village in Yemen would be a more desirable place to live. Maybe Dutuerte is onto something executing drug dealers of course here that would mean executing pill pushing doctors and big pharma execs as well.

#23 Comment By EngineerScotty On May 19, 2017 @ 6:11 pm

The problem areas are A) deindustrialized areas that have nothing else, like a university, to recommend them (e.g., Youngstown OH) and B) rural areas, like the town of Portsmouth in the story. These days a rural town keeps its head about water only because of three things: It’s in a touristy area (my step-mother’s home town of Charlevoix MI is an example) B) There is some sort of large government facility nearby (military base, prison…) or C) it’s close enough to an urban area where it can serve as a distant exurb for people who either don’t care about a longish commute or who can telecommute most days of the week (Rod’s St Francisville may be an example– it’s not impossibly far from Baton Rouge).

Or D), it is home to lots of well-to-do retirees with large pensions.

(Or e) there is some other productive source of economic activity–a mine, a harbor, etc. which cannot be moved, but isn’t sufficiently lucrative that the small town becomes a large one; that said, this can be combined with b) above).

But places, to thrive, need a source of income. Whether it’s tourists visiting, locals commuting, the production and export of goods, or government checks rolling in, there has to be a net infusion of capital for a place to survive over the long-haul.

#24 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 19, 2017 @ 10:20 pm

It sounds like hell on earth.I think a mountainside goatherding village in Yemen would be a more desirable place to live.

As far as psychotropics go, Yemenis are en masse aficionadoes to this stuff. It’s a rather weak and poor excuse for a drug though, although apparently enough of one for our government to ban it:

[5]

#25 Comment By JonF On May 20, 2017 @ 10:19 am

Re: Or D), it is home to lots of well-to-do retirees with large pensions.

Are there specifically rural places like that though? Maybe it’s because I lived in Florida, but it does seem that well-to-do retirees tend to congregate in gated communities in places like Sarasota and Boca Ration– which no one would confuse with the boondocks.

Re: The government will soon run health care, for instance.

Put me down as dubious– if you mean the actual healthcare itself not its financial sector.

Re: Then we’ll get more expansion of the “safety net”, probably in ways that will further discourage participation in the labor market, necessitating further expansion of the safety net.

I assume you do not not mean this in regards to healthcare– since the linkage of healthcare to jobs is an accident of history that qualifies as our original Sin in that sector. If you’re referring to the larger welfare state, then, probably, yes, that may be coming too, if only because the labor market is increasingly dumping overboard the left hand side of the bell curve– and no small number of over-50 people too. However there are ways to address this that could lead to positive results, notably through a public jobs program participation ion which would be required for an unemployed but able-bodied person in exchange for benefits. The Atlantic just featured a piece on this possibility, and it notes that the Left is beginning to unite around the idea, which avoids the “money for lazy moochers” problem that our current welfare system has.

#26 Comment By Anna On May 20, 2017 @ 11:05 am

I’m late on this one, but I think calling CPS was a despicable thing to do. At least by his own account, he didn’t witness anything remotely resembling neglect or abuse, but loving parents – who happen to be destitute – taking devoted care of their kids.

Does Arnade honestly think reporting them will make anything better for that family or their kids? Apart from the question of whether the parents and kids love each other and will suffer from being separated, I just bet Portsmouth is teeming with loving, responsible, stable foster homes. . .

And if he knew he wasn’t making anything better, doesn’t it become abundantly clear that he was simply acting to make himself feel better, assuaging his guilty feeling that he should “do something”?

#27 Comment By Nelson On May 20, 2017 @ 11:47 am

The problem with politics in this country is everyone thinks the president should be a dictator. The president can do some things, particularly in foreign policy. But anything that requires money, like trying to solve the problem of a dying town and opoid addiction, requires legislation. And nobody much cares about their state or federal representatives except the suburbanites who are already living mostly good lives and just want lower taxes.

#28 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 20, 2017 @ 12:21 pm

One of the benefits of socialism, is that a decision can be made to, e.g., locate a new manufacturing plant in Portsmouth, Ohio, because its an economically depressed area where people have been out of work for 2-3 generations resulting in despair, high rate of drug use, etc.

It will cost more initially, we will have to budget for extensive programs to reinculcate habits of timely reporting for work, taking pride in applying skills to deliver a quality product, budgeting for a nice new home instead of blowing your paycheck getting drunk or buying heroin, but, in ten or fifteen years, it will be worth it, and the entire community, the entire country, the entire world, will be better off. The costs of not doing this are much higher than the costs of investing in doing it right. However, under the old capitalist regime, these social costs were not on the corporate balance sheet, so it didn’t affect this sort of decision.

In a socialist government that was going to deliver for the long term, we would however need Elijah in a comptroller position overseeing that the books balance and all costs were budgeted and paid for. Toussaint Louverture employed many educated “white” accountants doing exactly that (not socialist of course, but some loose analogies) as he got the plantation economy up and running again to finance schools and health care. He had to use “white” accountants, because Haiti hadn’t educated its first generation of “black” accountants yet. Then Napoleon busted everything up, and Dessalines didn’t have Toussaint’s capacity to lead. (In exile in St. Helena, Napoleon said his first big mistake was intervening in St. Domingue).

Rather than proportional representation, we should try order-of-preference voting. It tends to produce more of a consensus candidate, rather than giving several petty factions there own little share of power. But it does allow people to, e.g., cast their vote for Pat Buchanan, knowing that if he doesn’t get many votes, their vote will automatically be transferred to their second choice, which might be George W. Bush or might be Ralph Nader, although probably not many for Al Gore. One of the candidates who got the first or second most first place votes will probably win, but it will be the one with the most second place votes who generally takes office.

#29 Comment By KS On May 22, 2017 @ 12:24 pm

Re: the going-nowhere town and opioid connection issue, surely there is no better guide than reporter/author Sam Quinones’ “Dreamland” (about another town in Ohio, not so far away, if memory serves). Marc Maron’s WTF interview with Quinones is absolutely first-rate:

[6]

#30 Comment By Pepi On May 22, 2017 @ 2:43 pm

[KS says:
May 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm
Re: the going-nowhere town and opioid connection issue, surely there is no better guide than reporter/author Sam Quinones’ “Dreamland” (about another town in Ohio, not so far away, if memory serves).]

Dreamland is about Portsmouth, OH.

#31 Comment By TFK On June 16, 2017 @ 1:30 pm

I am in a pickle. I am working on a project to help fight unhealthy lifestyles in Appalachia. It is disheartening as a Scioto County native to pull back each husk on the corn. But, someone must shed light in on each situation at hand. I am unsure which route to take because the unhealthy lifestyles in our small community are so large. Yet, I agree with the comment that says “the change must come from inside the community.” The only question left now is – how?