Poverty Does Not Know Ethnicity
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 by Frank Shortt
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While being raised in Appalachia, in the area of Buchanan County, Virginia, a person’s poverty level was determined by how much coal the breadwinner produced. When coal was selling, we ate higher on the hog, when coal sales declined, we at less palatable cuts of pork meat!

During boom times in any locality most people are raised above the poverty level if they care to take advantage of the job possibilities. Those who did not, who were too lazy or too ill to work, remained in the status that the boom found them. Those poverty stricken families were usually taken care of by well-meaning charitable organizations, churches, or generous relatives and neighbors.

I have often heard such statements as: “We were so poor we had nothing to eat, so we didn’t eat! “Possum tastes pretty good when there is no other meat! It is a sad thing to have the desire to live but not the means! One cannot refer to others as poor when all you have to eat is water gravy! Poverty is what caused my son to become a criminal! Most is given by the ones who can afford it least! It is difficult to even think rationally on an empty stomach! Politicians keep asking for more money to provide health care for the poverty stricken, but very few of them would lift a hand to provide even bad health care for the masses.” So Sad!

There was a merchant in our little village of Shortt Gap named Irby Altizer. He had made a pretty good living by owning several coal ‘truck’ mines in that area. He later owned a couple of little village stores where one could get most any kind of groceries common to people who lived in the area. He had sandwich meats in bulk and all he had to do was slice off what a person desired. He also kept dry goods where we were able to buy our Wrangler jeans and flannel shirts, shoes, etc. It would be hard to calculate how much money he lost to just ‘writing off’ bills that had been owed to him. He knew full well that when the miners were not working, they could not possibly pay the smallest bill owed. My father was one of those who always tried to pay at least a small amount, each time money came in, toward his grocery bill. Several times he would go to pay his small amount and Mr. Altizer would pull out his books and declare, “Edd, you don’t owe me anything!” Here is a man who must have at least a small share of the Kingdom beyond!

Through life, I have never seen poverty accredited to just one ethnic group. All the poor people, I have encountered, have been multi-ethnic! There are many reasons why poverty lies at the doorstep of so many people. One cause is gambling. I have seen men, and women, take their whole paycheck and buy lottery tickets never thinking of their hungry children at home. Their houses were unlivable under modern standards as carpets were worn through to the sub-flooring with dirt and filth built up in the cavities caused by wear and not vacuuming properly. Another problem is alcohol. As soon as a gambling craze wears off the person becomes distressed to the point where they must have a stimulant to help them through the depression. Drugs and alcohol take their toll on these families. Other problems are caused by bad money decisions! Even though their limited income does not allow for expensive appliances, such as, big screen T.V.’s, the latest technology in telephones, and laptops, etc. they go in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars that they will never earn. Many go bankrupt and never pay for the things they did not need in the first place. One could go on and on about the causes of poverty. I have not seen one study, from Right or Left that addresses a cure for the widespread plague. Too often, politicians promise the poor ‘pie in the sky’ if they vote for them. As soon as they are in office, their promises are forgotten. Why? Because they are too busy building up their own nest eggs to even think of helping the poor and downtrodden. In the last few years, everything that would even come near helping the poor has been lost in bureaucracy and squabbling who will get the credit for passing legislation that would be of benefit to anyone.

What we need are a few more Irby Altizers in the world. There has been enough money made by celebrities, of all ethnicities, who could with one stroke of the pen on a check, wipe out poverty in a whole neighborhood overnight. Will they do it? Not in our lifetime! Ones who are generous write a check to some organization or church and by the time the money is filtered through all the red tape there is nothing left for the poor. Most people of celebrity status are too busy taking selfies, and loving their own selves, rather than to care for the neighborhood they were reared in. These people have a lot to answer for when they finally have to face what they did with all the blessings they were afforded. Wake up, America!