ZSR's Mo Green takes the pulse of North Carolina communities

And finds there is a lot of work to be done:

As the new executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation – an 80-year-old family foundation committed to improving the quality of life in North Carolina – Green set out in May 2016 on a statewide tour dubbed “Mo wants to know.” Seeking to learn where the state is hurting, where it’s doing well and what it needs to ease its pains and enhance its strengths, he spoke with hundreds of people, from one-on-one sessions with community leaders to community forums to private talks with people who poured out their stories of loss and hope. In all, he visited 19 counties from the coast to the mountains.

“We were trying to figure out what was going on in the state and how we could be responsive to that,” he said.

I'm pleased by this, but not surprised. ZSR has done great work over the years supporting research and organizations that help people, and now (more than ever) that help is needed. But the only way to solve some of these problems is in the ballot box:

“We certainly heard how [a lack of] resources are impacting schools,” he said. “Ultimately everyone is trying their best to keep as many teachers in classrooms as they can. So they’re doing things like eliminating support services. There is a significant reduction of things like textbook funding and they are losing teachers’ assistants. Some are increasing class sizes to address shortfalls.”

And he came across the other well-known issues. The failure to expand Medicaid has made it hard for the working poor to obtain health care. Access to high-speed internet is still limited in rural areas. A rising population of older people, many of them newcomers, is straining local services. There needs to be coordination rather than competition between urban and rural economic development and there is a mismatch between the skills employers need and what job seekers can do.

School funding, money for infrastructure needs like broadband expansion, access to healthcare via Medicaid, all of those things are in the hands of Republicans, whose main goal is to put more money in the pockets of those who are already well off. At its core, this is a class struggle, and the bottom 3/4 of us are losing. And a big reason for those losses are due to the uncanny ability of Republicans to fool a major portion of their base into believing their rhetoric, whether it's fear-mongering along racial lines or the magical free market.

Breaking that spell will not be easy, but the effort must be made.

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