Glimpses Into Rural America

13 05 2008

I heard a long discussion last night about politics. Not about the election per se but more about leaders on a statewide/local level paying attention. Most folks I know are so over the election that they were talking about how they are personally making sacrifices due to rising gas prices shooting up over the past two weeks, and how people’s personal budgets have been impacted.

I have said before that probably my most favorite southern delicacy is pickled okra. Not the slimy kind but pickled. You could pickle a Ho Ho and it would delight me to no end. I’m a pickle person and I buy them like a maniac. In the past two weeks, I noticed that a jar of pickled okra went from $2.29 to $3.59. A jar of pickles (Klaussen kosher baby dills) went from $2.79 to $3.89.

Of course, I didn’t get them. I wanted them, but they didn’t jive with the budget. They weren’t necessary. I can do without a frakking jar of pickles. And yes, I’m making a point. It’s not about pickles but you guys are smart. You know where I’m going here.

For folks who don’t pay attention to the individual prices in their grocery budgets, costs are increasing. In cities, public transportation is an option. It’s not in rural America. There is carpooling but that’s not always conducive to getting from point A to point B. To get food to landlocked portions of rural America means that gas has to go in those trucks that bring it. It doesn’t walk here on it’s own.

I work eight miles from my office. I have been walking in the adjoining town I work at (and am feeling all saucy about it) because I’m in walking distance of city hall, the post office and my bank. No reason to crank up the car when I can walk a couple of blocks. But I am, for all practical purposes, on call so if there is a fire or an accident, I gots to motor. Part of the job.

Sometimes, I think Jeffraham has the edge on everyone with his scooter.

One of the women who works for me said due to gas going up and a property tax appraisal that had the price of her home jump about 15 percent, she is looking to eliminate things she doesn’t need. At the top of her list was her cell phone. This year she planted her own garden and thought that might help.

We are sharing food at the office. Some folks don’t eat if we don’t so we do. I wish I were kidding but I’m not.

People are making adjustments.

I heard a man say yesterday that he had gone to the doctor for tests. His portion was $2000 after insurance. The doctor said he needed to go see a neurologist (he never said what was wrong with him.)

He declined to go.

I asked why and he said “I don’t have the money. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”

“How much money are you looking at?” I asked. “I mean, neurologist sounds pretty big.”

“‘Coma,” he sighed with a faraway look on his face. “It doesn’t matter. There is no money to do this.”

All of this made us ponder about how our local elected officials as well as our state/national guys honestly do not understand the plight of people making lower middle class wages in rural America. This is what I know so that’s what I’m writing about. I’m sure it’s happening everywhere. People are making cuts to deal with extra taxes, higher gas costs and day to day living expenses. They are doing their part in small, and larger ways.

Whether it’s a jar of pickles, a cell phone, carpooling or, sadly, not seeking necessary health care treatment, people are cutting back.

With Mike Padgett and Bob Tuke running for Senate, I think a fine experiment for both of them, as most folks here don’t know what they look like or who they are for that matter, should go out among the natives here and not introduce themselves or ask for a vote. I think they should go and have a beer in a little juke joint or sit in the local restaurant where all the menfolk (yep, that’s what I said) meet everyday at 2 p.m. for coffee and listen to what people are saying.

Not talk at people but listen, really listen, to what average folks are saying. It wouldn’t work for folks already elected unless they went outside their districts (like Roy Herron or Lowe Finney going to Hawkins County or Steve Cohen or Nikki Tinker coming here) but for these guys, it wouldn’t be a photo op but a “real” exploratory effort to find out what rural Tennesseans are discussing.

Outside the comfort zone, and that campers, is what I’m suggesting and just for a couple of days.

We vote too.

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14 responses

13 05 2008
Sandi

Oh believe me, it is happening all over. At my house for sure.

13 05 2008
newscoma

I know you are right, Sandi. It’s everywhere.

13 05 2008
Jon

Standing ovation.

It amazes me how the partisan gop hacks (as opposed to “conservatives” necessarily) can continue to bury their head in the sand on this. The economy is fine! Wal-Mart’s stock rose $.03 last quarter! Don’t you know what the technical definition of recession is?!?

I don’t mind that the rich continue to get richer, really, I’m happy for them. But don’t bank on that as an indicator that everything is fine for everyone else, when it most certainly is not.

13 05 2008
newscoma

Standing ovation back at you for that comment.
I don’t begrudge the rich either, I just want compassion from everyone that everything is definitely not okay.
Some folks are struggling. I wish folks got that.

13 05 2008
Listen : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

[…] A rural blogger counsels candidates to get a better read on the working people of Tennessee: With Mike Padgett and Bob Tuke running for Senate, I think a fine experiment for both of them, as most folks here don’t know what they look like or who they are for that matter, should go out among the natives here and not introduce themselves or ask for a vote. I think they should go and have a beer in a little juke joint or sit in the local restaurant where all the menfolk (yep, that’s what I said) meet everyday at 2 p.m. for coffee and listen to what people are saying. […]

13 05 2008
What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander « Tiny Cat Pants

[…] Newscoma for more about the not-okay-ness of our current situation.  Please dwell upon these sentences: […]

13 05 2008
LeftWingCracker

Wow, just wow. It’s really 1933 all over again, this is awesome.

13 05 2008
Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » Got pickles?

[…] Newscoma doesn’t and she loves them. I have said before that probably my most favorite southern delicacy is pickled okra. Not the slimy kind but pickled. You could pickle a Ho Ho and it would delight me to no end. I’m a pickle person and I buy them like a maniac. In the past two weeks, I noticed that a jar of pickled okra went from $2.29 to $3.59. A jar of pickles (Klaussen kosher baby dills) went from $2.79 to $3.89. […]

13 05 2008
Beth

I went back to my hometown this weekend and a few people picked my brain for some reason regarding all the political goings on and wanted to know my take on it – I have no idea why, because I don’t generally like to marinate in politics.

I grew up in a very Republican minded area of the Deep South. I was raised as a republican and I guess back in the 1980s things were more hopeful than now, or maybe that’s because I was still under the watchful eye (and pocketbook) of my parents.

As I’ve gotten older, and I’ve seen how the world works, my views have changed.
I don’t consider myself Republican, yet I don’t see myself as Democrat. And by the same token, I don’t like politicians, because I pretty much see them as the same people, only with different letters beside their names.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again regarding the whole gas prices rising thing.
(A) the oil companies know that people will pay the price because they have to. They literally have us over a (oil) barrel. (B) no matter what a candidate says about “Feeling our pain” in regard to how average Americans are struggling, the fact of the matter is, no matter how hard they try to feel the pain, they will never be able to because there is always a cushion of their millions of dollars in the bank to fall back on if their baby gets sick or grandpa needs a doctor’s visit after he breaks a hip.

One particular conversation was an offshoot of the above paragraph and I told the person in which I was talking, revolved about the out of touch-ness of those in power. And I told the woman “you know, I would love to see each of these politicians live on $30,000 a year. That’s probably around what the “average” American makes, but for kicks, let’s put them on the line. Take them out of the mansion, put them in an “average” home and whoever ends up making do the best with the little they have, I would definitely vote for. Because if they truly had to live like the rest of us – worry about how to pay the $200 gas bill to heat the home, figure out what’s more important – groceries or gas money to get to work – a lot of the problems we have would be on the fast track to be solved.

I used to feel hopeful about the future, and in many ways I guess I still do. But as long as the people who run our governments, our healthcare/insurance companies and our gas sources are pocketing wads of cash, the rest of us will have to make do with what little we have.

13 05 2008
lcreekmo

This is an important post, ‘coma. You have done a great job here. I wish we all had an answer to the issue, but it is important to be talking bout it, anyway.

13 05 2008
Jeffraham Prestonian

I will endeavour to purchase a jar of Wickles for you, next time you’re in town.
.

13 05 2008
Jeffraham Prestonian

Wickles, btw.
.

15 05 2008
lovable liberal

Badger’s cartoon had me thinking about this, too. It’s not just true in rural and small town places. It’s even hitting the relatively affluent suburbs. Still, all the Bushists see is another gilded age, and it looks great to them.

27 08 2008
Rural Voting Key In Presidential Race « Newscoma

[…] have been talking about rural communities since I began this blog nearly three years ago. I will do the awful and link to myself. And Rep. […]

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