BRACE YOURSELF - "What Are People Gonna Do?"

(08/16/2008)

COMMENT by Bob Weaver

"What are people gonna do?" a frequently asked question in Calhoun, with most of the county's citizens facing the winter months with skyrocketing energy and food prices.

It could be a dangerous winter for many low-income and the former middle-income families, now called the "working poor."

The national presidential candidates barely address the fact that much of America is going into survival mode, and the media's talking heads rant on about things American's "like to watch" on cable news shows.

Hardest hit will be West Virginia's thirteen poverty-stricken counties, Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Lincoln, Mason, McDowell, Mingo, Roane, Summers, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming.

Calhoun and McDowell County are on the 100 poorest counties list in America, with the per capita income in Calhoun listed at $11,491 and median family income listed at $21,578.

Despite having many of the richest natural resources in the nation, West Virginia still stands at 48th worst in the USA for income, with $16,477 per capita income and $24,379 for median family income.

Most of the state's so called middle-class jobs have been globalized.

Many fixed-income families can't afford to pay $4.79 a gallon for fuel oil or $4.35 a gallon for propane or up to 46 percent more for natural gas, as requested by some of the state's largest suppliers.

The high cost-per-gallon for gasoline is a killer for local workers who drive 100-150 miles a day to work, in addition to food prices and other necessary items ever increasing.

Those increases, downplayed by government figures, have hit 25%-50%.

State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis says he fears more people will die this winter in fires caused by risky heating alternatives.

Hopefully those families who cling to their mountaineer spirit and mountaineer skills, will survive.


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