Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boone County, Ky., poor and GOP country

EDITOR: Before the election, I was watching a European TV news broadcast. This privately-owned chain had sent a crew to Boone County, Ky., to find out how the residents of the poorest county in the U.S. were likely to vote. Most people interviewed were for Mitt Romney and their reasons were mainly twofold: Romney was going to save the coal industry, Boone County’s only resource, and Obama wanted to take away their guns.

Seventy-five years after the TVA was born, many denizens of Boone County still do not have electricity. Most are on welfare and food stamps, and practically all kids qualify for a free school breakfast and lunch. A county employee estimated that, at the end of some months, when the welfare money has run out, many school children do not eat between lunch Friday and breakfast Monday. When schools are not in session, the county runs special food programs for the children. Of course, Ayn Rand devotees will tell us that the adults and kids of Boone County are poor because they want to be poor.

The problems of Boone County are definitely third-world: malnutrition, lack of medical and dental care and facilities, roads decimated by coal-carrying trucks, a school system not worthy of Somalia and pervasive fundamentalist religions that help the authorities (meaning the GOP) keep the population under control.

The GOP has conned these poor people into believing that Romney is the man who “feels their pain,” that he’s “one of them.” They’re convinced that Romney will bring back coal and lift them out of their misery. Ironically, one of the older miners interviewed was pining about the good old days, when he made a decent wage. When one of the reporters suggested that the coal industry of old was unionized, the miner agreed, but he was going to vote “Romney” anyway. This attitude is the GOP’s greatest electoral triumph: It has convinced the poorest of the poor to vote for the oligarchs, against their own self-interest.


Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 71 comments

  • RichardDecember 05, 2012 - 7:17 am

    Ive run across this simple statement several times during the last election: "racism and hate are the reasons why the Republican Party still exists. Without it they’d have roughly 3% of the vote."......... How else can you convince someone that it’s a good thing to vote against your own self-interest… to work until you are 70, have no health insurance, work for no minimum wage, have no benefits, have no job security, work in unsafe conditions, have your benefits cut when you lose your job, have the ecology destroyed for corporate profit that you will never see, watch your drinking water catch fire from fracking fluids needed so energy companies can reap ridiculous profits, watch banks collapse from deregulation watch the Gulf turn Black from Oil because the Party you vote for thought oil companies should regulate themselves, proudly have your children killed in a war over lies for the profit of mega companies getting no bid contracts… how do you get people to do that? You throw in hate and racism then thought and reason go to the wayside.

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  • Sean ODecember 05, 2012 - 8:29 am

    Clearly must be racism. Yuuuup racists crackers is the only answer to a complex problem. I really like the water on fire statement -Almost biblical.

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  • cookie65December 05, 2012 - 8:59 am

    So the $14 trillion we have spent in the war on poverty has one more success story. They could have sent a camera crew to the utopia of Detroit but they feared for their lives. Your definition of voting for your own interests is who can I elect that will confiscate the property of someone else and give it to me. Amazing how these people want to be free to provide for themselves regardless of your judgement of them and don't look to the government to do it for them.

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  • true blueDecember 05, 2012 - 9:24 am

    Nancy Pelosi says President Obama's “Food Stamp President” title is a badge of honor. You tell 'em, Nancy.

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  • What the fracking?December 05, 2012 - 9:36 am

    Water on fire is not biblical at all, Sean O. Don't believe it? Check out "water on fire". You'll be surprised.

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  • MikeDecember 05, 2012 - 10:00 am

    "Water on Fire," was used by Joe Bageant an American author and columnist known for his book, " Deer Hunting With Jesus," where he discusses class warfare and how Democrats have lost the political support of poor rural whites and how, the Republican Party has convinced these individuals to "vote against their own economic self-interest."

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  • EvelynDecember 05, 2012 - 10:07 am

    Mike: Joe Bageant was wonderful. But about water on fire, The Wall Street Journal wrote "Many water supplies in northern Pennsylvania have long contained methane, because of the area's poorly constructed water wells and unusual geological features. But the contamination in Ms. Vargson's well is among the first cases that state regulators have attributed to natural-gas drilling." **********

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  • EvelynDecember 05, 2012 - 10:11 am

    For an absolute "must watch" video demonstration (16 sec.) of tap water ignited: HERE.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 10:27 am

    LINK - Gasland director hides full facts

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 11:50 am

    Mr. Garon, my remark to you is premised on the leadership principle, lead by example. I understand from reliable sources that you and your wife are retired State Department employees who have seen service all over the planet. I understand that the taxpayers of this great nation have seen fit to compensate you and your wife at such level that you and your wife are presently situated high on a ridge north of Pleasant Valley road within a mansion on a very large, immaculately landscaped parcel. Mr. Garon, sell. Remove yourself from El Dorado County. Move to Boon County Ky. Redistribute your wealth. Lead by example. Send pictures.

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 12:36 pm

    Mr. Garon, disregard Phil's advice -- he's just feeling a little testy this morning. It was pass.

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  • cookie65December 05, 2012 - 1:01 pm

    Phil, for people like Garon, "your own best interests" involve "other peoples money" and never his own. He is of the typical public sector mindset where there is an unlimited amount of taxpayer funds to provide him and everyone else in the lifestyle that best suits them. In fact I would wager that he has such a sense of entitlement that in his mind the private sector doesn't pay nearly enough for what they owe him. That mind set is bankrupting our country. Their self-centeredness is beyond reason. He couldn't care less about the people he talks about in his letter, he only thinks of himself.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 1:02 pm

    James, you're absolutely right. I should not allow my aversion to the hypocrisy of the über rich-at-taxpayer’s-expense-leftists . . . . oops! There I go again! The Garons are not “über rich”. But is interesting how the State Department takes care of its own. The buddy system I guess? In Eldorado County they call it the good ol’ boy network. But decades together pulling down six figures have given the Garons a unique opportunity to redistribute their wealth to Boon County, KY. . . . just a suggestion . . . class envy . . . I think I’ve read too much Obama propaganda. My bad! Mr. Garon, Patricia, I apologize. Keep your hard earned money. It’s the Republican way!

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 1:06 pm

    Cookie, I have told you before: I am a liberal and I want your money. How can we arrange a transfer of your funds? And, don't hold back -- I want it all.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 1:12 pm

    cookie, I'm feeling terrible. I'm considering a private face-to-face apology to the Garons. Do you have their gate code?

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    Phil, now be nice -- gate code indeed!

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 1:21 pm

    James, yes. The answer of course is for me to build my own gate, and drop the class envy. As a phormer pharmer I prefer barbed wire gates. I’ll check the CC&rs. They may require mesh.

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    Phil, a barbed wire community. And the gate would just have a little loop of rope to secure it. Cool. Oh, and please don't task Cookie further, as she is busy getting all her money together for transfer to me. As she has so much it will take a while, so I'm going to wander off to go do stuff. Later.

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  • gawd i hate rich fokDecember 05, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    Mitt ain’t down ‘n out either. But he maid his money the hard weigh, bless his lil red hart. an he’s movin on to hep out the marriott Hotels, usin all his candates xperienc, and then mor movin. they say hes comin to live with us good fok right here in californya. Got hisself a new Audi Q7 to sho off while he does some public service, cause that’s what he says hes gonna do. can’t blame him for skippin buyin one of them Detroit bailout pieces of junk. so enuf with the hipokraci talk, cause mitts gonna show us the weigh.

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  • cookie65December 05, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    Phil, in my travels around the National Forest, both private and public we always have master key in our possesion. It opens any gate. It is a little loud depending on the neighborhood. And it costs about 50 cents everytime we use it. Don't tell James though, I have him convinced this type of key is only used for overthrowing the government.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 2:07 pm

    Cookie, STOP! My wife thinks I'm nuts as I cradle my laptop busting a gut.

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  • cookie65December 05, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    James, the government is doing it for you. I may some left over when they are done, better get it soon while it still has a little value. Would you like it in the same form that the government leaves me? CHANGE. You voted for hope and all any of us have left is change. Thanks a lot.

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  • AshleyDecember 05, 2012 - 2:27 pm

    Excellent commentary on the sad condition of the U.S. coal miners and their communities. It is so important to make education and vocational training available to them and other workers mired in dead end occupations.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 2:28 pm

    Mr. & Ms Garon, just as I was beginning to feel guilty about my snarky, class envy attack on your perceived hypocrisy, just as I was preparing to compose an appropriate apology I ran across this - LINK - Tax the Rich - An animated fairy tale - I’ve changed my mind. Why should Ed Asner, and you guys reserve particularly nasty dialogue for yourselves. I will not apologize. ARMAGEDDON OR BUST!

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    . . . off to the feed store barbed wire shopping . . .

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    Phil, hey, look over there -- Cookie has too much money.

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  • word for the dayDecember 05, 2012 - 4:05 pm


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  • Mark Dawson, SrDecember 05, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    Every time John Garon opens his mouth, picks up a pen, or uses a keyboard he shows his "IGNORANCE"! What a "FRICKIN IDIOT"! I am starting to think that he has a financial interest in the Mountain Democrat for them to keep printing his trash! Who knows, maybe one day when when when Garon climbs out of bed with Odumbo and smells the roses he'll relize they really smell like crap from that side!

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  • C. RapDecember 05, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    M Dawson Sr, living proof that anything can get published.

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 5:52 pm

    Appears I must give the opposing view -- Mr. Garon has his right to his opinions just as Mr. Arjil, Mr. Martin, Cookie, et al. Oh, and Mr. Mark Dawson, Sr. -- Odumbo? Very classy. And, remember "Odumbo" just got re-elected 51 to Mitt's 47. Appears the President is not quite the "Odumbo" you think he is. I hope you enjoy the next four years.

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  • curiousDecember 05, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    Is Dawson the Camino registered white male 5'9, blue eyes blond hair, DOB 2/3/1961, LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS ACTS WITH A CHILD UNDER 14 YEARS OF AGE?

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  • C. RapDecember 05, 2012 - 6:17 pm

    The language is a fit: trash + climbs out of bed + smell like crap

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 6:47 pm

    LINK - john and susan in Africa?

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  • RichardDecember 05, 2012 - 7:17 pm

    Veerkamp, was your government retirement check also late this month?

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    Richard, do you suppose we could draw on ambassador Garon's expertise and tease out a forecast? NBC is reporting tonight that Assad is now loading serine gas into bombs. Bush named Iran, Iraq and North Korea the axis of evil. So that name is gone. Will Oz have a name for the three sisters, Syria, Iran and North Korea. What do you think, Richard?

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  • RichardDecember 05, 2012 - 7:40 pm

    Veerkamp, I think you’ve gotten so far to the right that you have lost your balance.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 7:45 pm

    LINK - just for john(and richard) - The Merry Minuet Slideshow

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 7:52 pm

    Richard, do you recall the merry minuet from all the way back to 1962(ish)? It was really REALLY bleak back then . . . and no Bush to blame it on. No wonder the 70s required hippies and drugs and hippies . . . bring on woodstock 2!!! I ready to blow 25 years sobriety.

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 8:28 pm

    In 1962, weren't we blaming it on Nixon?

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    SHAME on you, James!!! it was Kennedy in '62

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 8:52 pm

    Remember? ". . . 13-day confrontation between the Soviet Union and Cuba on one side, and the United States on the other, in October 1962. It is one of the major confrontations of the Cold War, and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict. . . . " ahhhh! The Merry Minuet . . . full circle, James?

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    Phil, I know, was hoping no one would notice my Nixon comment.

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  • James E.December 05, 2012 - 10:00 pm

    Phil, in October 1962 I was at a secret site in Florida ready to fly to Cuba and kick some rear. Yet, I was most happy when it was over and I could go home. I always get homesick when I have to hide in Florida.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 05, 2012 - 10:10 pm

    Damn, James, you're OLD! In '62 I was a freshman at UCD.

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  • Robert ReillyDecember 06, 2012 - 10:00 am

    Boone Co looks a lot like Oakland,Richmond,Stockton,Vallejo,,Compton,Flint,Newark,New Orleans,Detroit,Chicago and many other dem controlled cities that all have high poverty and crime rates. Many of the citizens in these areas are slaves to the government because the depend on the government for the crumbs that get tossed their way. These communities have been dem controlled for decades and quality of life keeps getting worse. You'd think that eventually someone might say "maybe we should make some changes".

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  • EvelynDecember 06, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    Yesterday Mike mentioned a book by Joe Bageant who discussed class warfare, a phenomenon we know something about. Good guys on one side (that’s “us”, of course) and bad guys over there, preferably strung up, or at the very least, humiliated and silenced. Ever wonder who benefits? Anyway . . . John Garon quite correctly references Boone County as being the poorest county in the country, many homes still without electricity, hunger and third world conditions pervasive. Wanting to know more about Boone County, about which I had been totally ignorant prior to John’s letter, I went online. I’d like to share with you a largely pictorial article printed this year in April: AMERICA'S POOREST COUNTY: PROUD APPALACHIANS WHO LIVE WITHOUT RUNNING WATER OR POWER IN REGION WHERE 40% FALL BELOW POVERTY LINE: HERE. Have a look at it. It’s an easy scroll.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 1:01 pm

    Evelyn, Thank you for the pictures of the (Garon’s word) denizens of Boon County. As Mr. Garon sits comfortably appalled within his mansion on high he closes with, “This attitude is the GOP’s greatest electoral triumph: It has convinced the poorest of the poor to vote for the oligarchs, against their own self-interest.” - - - Please, Mr. Garon, inform us further of their “own self interest”. Is wealth redistribution the answer? Will wealth redistribution convert “denizens” to “citizens”? Will wealth redistribution heal a scar? Please, John, with specificity as opposed to hypocritical political platitudes from on high, please inform us on “their own self interests”.

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  • LarryDecember 06, 2012 - 1:04 pm

    Having lived many years in Kentucky, once county removed from Boone County, I would suggest that the unnamed "European TV news group", and Mr. Garon, check their facts and their GPS. Among Boone County's "resources" are the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport and the Turfway Park racetrack; however, there are no commercial coal-mining operations as there is no significant amount of coal. And, in fact, only about 6% of the county population is officially below the poverty line. Maybe the rest of that news story is also some sort of fabrication.

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    I lived once in Kentucky -- Fort Knox. We enjoyed visiting around the state. Obviously, never visited Boone County. Wait, Kentucky -- home to Senator McConnell. What's left to say?

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 1:52 pm

    Phil, if Mr. and Mrs. Garon live in a nice home, well good for them. Did they use any of Cookie's money? I think not.

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 1:56 pm

    Besides, Cookie's money belongs to me.

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    Phil, I'm thinking of becoming a Republican, because the Republican message is that I may someday be rich. I want to be rich and build a solid gold house. Until then, do I need to step on little people to be a good Republican? Please advise soonest.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    James, my one and only interest is the welfare of the Garons AND the denizens. If they would just move to Boon Co. they would develop a symbiotic relationship with the denizens. Singlehandedly the Garons could double the gross domestic product of Boon County. Then having ingratiated themselves to the local denizens they will be rewarded. When the $hit hits the fan and the meek inherit the earth the Garons’ kindnesses will be returned. It will be the denizens who have the skills to shoot, gut, skin, quarter and distribute the’ critters. The Garons will be cared for by the indigenous denizens of Boon County. There may be a sticking point. They may have difficulty in finding skilled domestic help, judging from pictures link.

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  • M. SchumannDecember 06, 2012 - 2:31 pm

    I checked the unemployment rate of Boone County, Ky. Unemployment rate is 6.4% California unemployment rate is 10.1%; 6.4% GOP 10.1% Democrat. hummmmmmm

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  • RichardDecember 06, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    Red-neck statistics vs. relativity; Thousands of coal miners have been laid off just in the Appalachia region this year. Mines in Boone County have shut down and thousands of more workers depending on the industry have also lost their incomes. Just 2 months ago, one of the largest coal companies in the world (Arch Coal) laid off 750 workers.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 4:53 pm

    Richard, do I have this right? Oz launches a war on coal. Thousands of coal miners are laid off. Garon takes the “denizens” of Boon County to task for falling for idiotic GOP ideology. And you think Republicans should supply the cure? How ‘bout this - Legalize white lightening. Teach the indigenous to set up an Appalachian booze tour much the same as we have here in El Dorado County. Lure in the rich effete flatlanders, and take ‘em!

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  • RichardDecember 06, 2012 - 5:37 pm

    Veerkamp, the simple fact is that "cheap coal in central Appalachia has been mined out." There is no politician, except Mitt Romney, who can change that, or scapegoat anybody. Remaining coal supplies tend to be more expensive to extract and aren't as profitable according to the Boone County Chamber." Central Appalachia would be experiencing almost as much decline in coal mining even if it had the most anti-environmental president of our history in place.” Additionally, coal can be purchased from Colorado State for a third of the cost of Kentucky coal. The Chinese who purchase the majority of Kentucky coal don’t give a damn if one burns hotter than the other. As far as legalizing White Lighting, and teaching the locals to set-up booze tours, the first to complain would be the big GOP supporters like Coors screaming like little sissy’s that its unfair.

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  • Richard GuentherDecember 06, 2012 - 6:42 pm

    Thanks John Garon for the essentially accurate history of Kentucky coal and exploitation. Sure beats reading some of the long winded, rambling, ideological bs posted by some commentators.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Richard, Oz could, by executive order, create an appropriately named and defined "Appalachian economic zone" restricted to the locals and prohibiting jim beam, jack Daniels and - Coors from participating - mom & pop booze. Fix the problem. Forget Rs & Ds. Oz might even get a little revenue after an appropriate tax free start-up period.

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  • JohnDecember 06, 2012 - 9:45 pm

    Every large family has a crazy uncle. Phil must be the one in the Veerkamp tribe. As for coal mines in Appalachia, most of the large operations have indeed closed. What I saw of Boone County were very small operations--half a dozen or so men, often related to each other--that were scavenging the coal left behind by the big boys.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 10:03 pm

    Thank you for your good humor, John. You are particularly kind!

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  • EvelynDecember 08, 2012 - 12:34 pm

    I surrender, hastening to clear Boone County’s recently besmirched reputation, to which regrettably I contributed. It seems what we have here is problem of NAMES. In Kentucky there is a Boone County, which is not the same as the Kentucky town named Booneville, located in Owsley County. According to the 2010 US Census, 7% of Boone County’s residents live below the US poverty guidelines, whereas in Owsley County, home of BOONEVILE, the figure rises to 45%. Apparently Owsley County has the highest poverty rate in all of Kentucky. As for determining the poverty ranking of all the counties the United States . . . . .

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  • EvelynDecember 08, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    oops. BOONEVILLE

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  • EvelynDecember 08, 2012 - 12:47 pm

    Now . . . if there's one single person left on the face of this planet with the slightest interest in this "conversation", according to Wikipedia Owsley County KY is the "poorest county in the United States".

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  • James E.December 08, 2012 - 7:07 pm

    Evelyn, looks like things are dying out. In order to liven things up I've written a short letter to the Editor. As soon as it appears, we will be back in business.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 08, 2012 - 9:34 pm

    Colonel, I look forward to the publication your thoughts. It is my sense that over time we have developed at least a small level of mutual respect. Please, don’t push it!

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 08, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    Evelyn, is surrender painful? Are reparations in order? I should think not when one considers Versailles.

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  • Kelly GirlDecember 10, 2012 - 5:23 pm

    Dear Mr. Garon, In the future, check ANY other source for your data than a European TV broadcast. I lived in Boone County Kentucky for a couple of years in the mid 2000's and I saw absolutely nothing of which you reported. Only about 5% of the population is below poverty level and when attending my children's school functions, there were no reports of starving kids. It is not third world. Everyone has electricity. And, as far as I know, there is no coal mining there. There were MANY upscale restaurants, spas, bars, shops, neighborhoods and much more. I sold real estate for a living when I lived there and most of my clients were well qualified. I won’t be too hard on you though as you might want to check the facts on Boone County West Virginia….

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  • DB SmithDecember 10, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    Kelly Girl: You may not know it but Dear Mr. Groan is a racist bigot who's words have no value and mean nothing. He continually tries to play the offense position thinking he will keep everyone else on defense. I think he and maybe two other people are the only one's that think he really knows anything.

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  • JaneJune 03, 2013 - 10:46 am

    Tea party is a tool of corporatists like the Koch brothers whose sole goal is to control all government levers for their own profit. These corporate puppeteers use President Obama’s race to feed the TP’s paranoia. Sounds like an accute statement to me.

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  • Phil VeerkampJune 03, 2013 - 11:33 am

    Jane, are you lost down deep in the archives?

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