We are in an economic fight and we are suffering catastrophic casualties. The Ohio/Kentucky/West Virginia area as a subset of the larger Appalachian area is on the front lines and we are losing - terribly.
We live on the river - the OHIO river, that used to be a source of strength - a source of pride.
An economic vein - the biggest artery - on the American map that pumped commericial lifeblood to a proud people. This waterway quenched the thirst of a people that upheld the tradition of American VICTORY.
American products made by American hands in Ohio River towns that helped win American wars, that helped spur the post War boom.
Now over the last few decades that vein has been:
Scarred with trackmarks of needles pumping Opoids, alcohol, obesity, cigarettes, meth - leading to the “diseases of despair”. A term coined by researchers that refers to “alcohol, prescription drug and illegal drug overdose; suicide; and alcoholic liver disease/cirrhosis of the liver”.
That same artery used to pump a strong current of fresh water feeding the heartbeat of dreamers, doers, believers, workers, creators
Now that artery is now clogged with sludge and contaminants - pumping a rush of opioid induced numbness straight to brain - all looking for a way to ease the pain of the factories closing down. The hands of the builders and makers now sit idle...the steel mills closed down and pill mills opened up.
The clean water turned dirty and we continued to drink. The poisoned water made it easier to blame “them” for the problems.
All the good jobs left - the unskilled labor went to Mexico.
American Flags are being made in China.
Cheaper overseas labor. No one makes anything here any more. It wasn’t my fault...
It’s the company’s fault - corporate headquarters abandoned us for cheaper labor and higher profits.
It’s the Government’s fault, they’ve forgotten about us.
The address of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has never changed but the occupants move every 4-8 years. Clintons to Bushes to Obamas and now Trump. The blame remains the same - it was THEIR party to blame.
Meanwhile - as we’ve been searching for the perfect solution to blame. We stood in long lines to get a prescription for pain meds and we choked them down with the same Mighty River Water that used to quench our thirst to dream, to build, to make, to create.
Time went on - and we sat - and we did nothing - it wasn’t our problem. It wasn’t our kid who swallowed pills, then chased heroin, then got strapped to a gurney because he OD’d from a bad batch.
I know what you’re thinking - I’m one of the good ones, I didn’t drink the poisoned water. I was a good kid, I went to college, I moved away and found a good job or I'm one of the lucky ones and I’ve got a good job here.
I understand - but just what did you do to make it better?
One day - when your son looks into your eyes - he will ask you
“Dad/Mom - what did you do to make it better?”
How will you answer him?
When he asks…”Dad/Mom - did you fight for them?”
How will answer it?
Maybe that kid who OD’d died because he didn’t dream - because YOU didn’t build anything worth believing in.
Maybe he died because you fled, got on the first train smoking out of town and then watched and read about how your people your tribe are dying - and dying at an incredible rate.
“The combined mortality rate from the diseases of despair was 37 percent higher in Appalachia than the non-Appalachian U.S. Specifically when analyzing overdose deaths, 25
to 44 year olds experience mortality rates greater than 70 percent higher than the non-Appalachian U.S.”
If we’re engaged in an economic war - we’re losing our soldiers before they can even fight.
So what can you do?
The answer is simple - not easy - but simple to fight a war against poverty, against disbelief, against weakness.
According to Dave Ramsey - Last decade - Fortune 500 companies have added a net loss of 4 million jobs. In that same time-frame, small businesses made primarily of family owned businesses- added 8 million jobs to the economy
28 million small business account for 54% of the American GDP
55% of all current jobs
Since 1970 - 66% of all new jobs have come from small businesses.
So it’s YOU, it’s YOUR DREAMS, YOUR IDEAS, YOUR BUSINESS that can turn back the tide - and turn the dirty water clean.
This is the greatest fight of our generation in our area - and we need fighters, grinders, river rats.
The flag of American tradition is being passed to your hands - will you uphold it and advance it forward? Or let the flag fall and be soiled in the dirty water? The choice is yours...