Republican attack on the poor

Washington County Hospital joins ranks of NC's failing rural health care system

Another victim of privatization:

Washington County Hospital CEO Melanie Perry tells WCTI in New Bern that the facility's owner has plans to resolve several problems, including dwindling medical supplies and workers not getting paid for two weeks. Empower HMS promised 50 employees that checks would arrive Monday, but staff members said they never came. There has been no word on when or if the medical supplies will be replenished.

Perry said closing the county's only hospital would be devastating to the town of Plymouth, approximately 125 miles east of Raleigh.

Before we dig deeper into this unfortunate situation, a few words on how this could have been avoided are in order. When a public (municipal) entity provides a service, whether it's health care, transportation, water & sewer, or any other critical infrastructure issue, all considerations about turning a profit (net revenue gain, if you will) or even "breaking even" should be disregarded. Providing services to citizens is what government is for, and that's why we pay taxes. And this goes double in rural areas, where the economy simply cannot support/sustain a perpetually profitable business. Had local elected officials understood that back in 2007, they might not have sold this hospital in the first place. Because once a facility like this enters the private sector, the sharks start circling:

Gene Nichol on poverty: "They are invisible to us."

Should be required reading for all Democratic candidates:

Nichol builds his case by weaving together the ugly data points about income, education, jobs, and health care with personal anecdotes from hundreds of interviews with the people most affected. It adds up to a damning narrative about a large and growing underclass fostered by callous policy-making in Raleigh and Washington.

“Scarcely a word about poverty is uttered in the halls of the General Assembly,” he writes. “Recent North Carolina governors have almost never mentioned it, regardless of political party.”

In defending our small town's public transportation funding, I've spoken several times about our collective responsibility to do what we can to ameliorate some of aspects of poverty. And I get a lot of nods, and polite applause. I have no doubt most of those folks are genuinely concerned, but I also have no doubt most of them don't believe anything will work. They're willing to dedicate a small amount of resources to it, but that's more about "feeling good" than it is about actually bringing about change. The book is available on Amazon and other outlets, and at UNC Press:

Shut down, shut out: Expiring HUD contracts threaten low-income families

As usual, Republican temper tantrums hurt the poor first and hardest:

"Funding these contracts is necessary to keep about 150, 000 deeply poor, mostly seniors and people with disabilities safely and affordably housed," said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Yentel worries that, with President Trump and Congressional Democrats at an impasse over border wall funding, the government will not reopen anytime soon. And that may force property owners to make business decisions that could adversely impact tenants. "Eventually these owners will have to resort to either significant rent hikes or evictions of these lowest-income renters," Yentel said.

Take a closer look at that map. North Carolina is literally blanketed with already expired or soon to be expired HUD contracts. Each dot represents dozens if not hundreds of folks who may be forced out of their homes because the Republican Party can't or won't keep their spoiled rich brat under control. More details:

Latest hog farm lawsuit ends with a sad joke

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At least a slap on the wrist hurts a little bit:

On Wednesday, the end to a month-long trial came after jurors returned verdicts in favor of all eight plaintiffs, who live near a Sampson County hog farm, and imposed compensatory damages of a little more than $100,000 in all. Neighbors said Smithfield Foods hog operations were damaging to their daily life, complaining of powerful odors, clouds of flies, midnight noises and screeching trucks. Plaintiffs argued they could not enjoy their property enough to host a family barbecue, let kids play outside or tend a garden.

This week’s verdict was the fourth loss for the North Carolina hog industry. The jury awarded $100 compensatory damages to four plaintiffs, $1,000 to two plaintiffs, $25,000 to one and $75,000 to another — an elderly woman who lived closest to the hog farm and grew up there.

A hundred dollars in compensation? What is this, 1818? How many days of work did those four people miss in this month-long trial? I have more questions, but it's doubtful I'd get a straight answer from idiots like Jimmy Dixon:

Three Americas? Jobs growth study dispels myths, exposes flaws

A rising tide actually drowns a lot of people:

When such cities as Atlanta and Charlotte enjoyed a job surge in the 20 years that began in 1990, for example, the job gains mostly bypassed residents — often African-American — who had been born into poverty. That is among the findings of a study led by Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist whose newly launched Opportunity Atlas found no association between job growth and economic mobility for poor residents of the affected areas.

“Job growth is not sufficient by itself to create upward mobility,” Chetty said. “It’s almost as though racial disparities have been amplified by job growth.” His finding challenges much of the conventional thinking, of government officials, business executives and economists, that job gains are the surest way to lift up people in impoverished communities.

I think one of the biggest mistakes many government officials make is placing high value on high average salaries, when it comes to recruiting businesses using incentives, anyway. Said company might "create" 300 good jobs, but when 85% of those jobs are taken by people moving to the area for just that reason, what has that accomplished in reducing local unemployment? Not a whole lot. And the more professional skills and certifications those jobs require, the less value to the community that new business represents. I realize many reading this may not agree, but take a quick look at your zip code before attempting to correct me:

Trump's tariffs will make Florence rebuilding up to 30% more costly

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Steering the ship of state right onto the reefs:

Homebuilders and contractors say the administration’s trade policy will add to the price increases that usually follow natural disasters. In addition to materials like lumber, steel and aluminum, the United States will impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports next week, including countertops, furniture and gypsum, a key ingredient in drywall. All told, some builders estimate that construction costs could be 20 to 30 percent higher than they would have been without these tariffs.

“We’re all going to pay the price for it in terms of higher construction costs,” said Alan Banks, president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association.

Of course Trump doesn't understand this, and neither do many of his supporters. Our town is going through a growth spurt, and I've had several NIMBY citizens ask me why we are in "such a rush" to approve new housing projects. When I tell them about the cost of building going up because of these tariffs, which will (probably) slow things down quite a bit in the near future, I usually get blank stares. One obviously Trump-supporting dude tried to make lemonade out of it by saying, "Good! My home will increase in value." When I asked him if he was thinking about selling, he said, "No! I love my house!" When I broke the news the only thing he would get out of the deal was higher property taxes, he wandered off with a vacant look on his face. Bless his little MAGA heart. And the tariff punishments just keep on coming:

Under GOP leadership, NC's income gap is the widest in decades

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The inequality is now staggering:

In North Carolina, the average income for someone in the top one percent is 20.6 times larger than everyone else, a figure that has increased substantially during the Great Recession and is much higher than it was in the 1960s through early 1980s. The top one percent took home over 17 percent of all income in North Carolina in 2015, and the top 0.1 percent commanded 7.4 of all income. In 1974, when the level of income inequality in North Carolina was the lowest in modern history, the top one percent only consumed 7.8 percent of all North Carolina income.

Not an accident, it's by design. And the vast majority of the Republican base has unknowingly contributed to its own decline.

Larken Egleston taking heat over his support of RNC2020

It comes with the territory, dude:

Egleston has been bombarded on social media with expletives and threats after he voted in favor of approving tentative contracts with the Republican National Committee and the local host committee. The council’s 6-5 vote paves the way for the RNC to award Charlotte the convention. City leaders expect the RNC site selection committee to back Charlotte Wednesday morning.

“I would be doing a lot better without the internet,” Egleston said Tuesday morning in an interview, a reference to the deluge of criticism he has received by email, Twitter and Facebook.

I find that Internet comment somewhere between fascinating and hilarious, since avoiding social media and other forms of 21st Century communications is exactly what he (falsely) accused his Democratic opponent of in the Primary Election:

Struggling in the Gap: NC GOP's refusal to expand Medicaid is a health crisis

The march of the walking wounded:

In the spring of 2017, a tractor trailer side-swiped the car Hendell Curtis was driving not far from his North Raleigh home. His longtime lack of health insurance made getting needed medical care afterwards a physcial and financial minefield.

The crash left Curtis requiring surgery to install a metal plate to stabilize weakened vertebrate in his lower back. A settlement from the truck driver’s auto insurance will cover the surgery, but only AFTER it is complete.

Get that? The accident was not his fault, but he is the one living with a broken back because of it. Let down by the system, let down by the ideologues running the General Assembly. And (of course) if he'd had enough money to hire a fancy lawyer, the settlement from the insurance company would have paid for everything upfront, with enough left over to live on for the rest of his life. But that's another world, one that he and many others can only read about. Here's more about the Gap:

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