Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority. - William Jennings Bryan

Monday, February 20, 2006

About My Home

I heard somebody say that the Ninth Congressional District is just about the same in land size as the state of New Jersey. It encompasses a big chunk of the state. A big chunk that used to be a reliable Democrat region. But no more. It's now as swing district as one can imagine. Bush in 2004 and 2000. Warner in 2001, Kilgore in 2005. Twelve-term Democratic Congressman whose opponent can't break 42%.

The people of Southwest Virginia--my neighbors, my friends, my cousins--are, for the most part, socially conservative and economically progressive. Up until recently (and still in some homes, and I know, because I've seen it) pictures of Jesus, John F. Kennedy and John L. Lewis hung in almost every house.

The reason Democrats have a hard time here now, though, is because a lot of people (except the union folks in Dickenson and Buchanan Counties) believe the Democratic Party has lost touch with them. I say no. I say at least a third of the people who vote Republican in this district are up for grabs if the Democrats could connect with them.

In my opinion, if we want to start winning more down here, my party needs to talk about four things:
1-Health Care: So many people in my part of the country don't have health care, or don't have access to health care. The free medical clinic every year in Wise is great, and there's also a Doctor's office on wheels, the Crossroads Medical Mission, that travels around and helps folks. But, as great as it is, it's not enough. The government needs to help. Rural health care is extremely important to my people.
2-Transportation: When I mention transportation, I mean it in reference to places like Copper Creek (where the paternal side of my family has been for a long, long time), Molls Creek, Castlewood, Hansonville, Bolton, and Greendale. These places all have high populations of elderly/older people. A lot of these people can't drive. There needs to be a program, kind of like a "fleet of church buses," to go around and pick up folks who have called and said they needed to get into town. There's no excuse that people in this country--in the United States--can't get to Food City or to the doctor.
3-Agriculture: The government needs to do more to support the family farmer. Pay more into farm subsidies. We need to encourage farmers to keep farming, keep producing the products that America ia famous for producing. We also need to provide incentives to folks who don't have a farm to start one, and by that, I mean the government should do everything it can to help them get off to a good start.
4-Minimum Wage: It's a joke that our minimum wage is so low. $5.15? If you work at minimum wage, eight hours a day, fifty weeks a year (we assume you get a two-week vacation--you might not), then you're only getting $10,300 a year. That's definitly not enough for house payments, car payments, electric, water, and heat payments, plus food, clothes, medical expenses, and any other unforseen expenses. I think we need the minimum wage at at least $7.50 or $7.70 a year, or possibly more. It's disgusting to me that we have people living (some just two or three miles from my bluecollar house) in this nation who look like they're living in a third world country. This is America. This is wrong.

If we could talk about these kind of things and stay away from the nuclear issues--abortion, gay marriage--then we can win back rural America.

I expect that James Webb will talk about this. I expect if and when Creigh Deeds runs for statewide office again, he'll talk about some of this stuff, and I expect that any candidate who wants to win west of Roanoke should use these issues as a base to talk from.



Charlie said...

Awesome post. "Never take economics off the table" is the best advice any democrat could ever take.

Anonymous said...

excellent idea, lets raise that minimum wage and stop those pansy ass teenagers from taking jobs away from people with families and houses and shit like that, the minimum wage should be a living wage, maybe $50,000 a year so everyone can do what they want, the government should pay this of course because with a higher minimum wages costs go up and jobs get eliminated, well we might as well just give them money and not ask them to work,it will be easier

Adam said...

There’s nothing like an anonymous rant to make oneself look like a dumb***. As anyone who has grown up with a parent living on minimum-wage knows, teenagers aren't the only ones with these jobs. It is sad situation; however, the fact is that businesses are not going to pay their employees like they are supposed to unless the government forces them to. It is a disgrace that companies will not willfully pay the very people that are the lifeblood of their company a wage that well at the very least allow them to survive. On the current minimum wage a person cannot afford to pay their bills, by their food, pay for their vehicle insurance, or even afford to pay babysitter while they work. It is pathetic that anonymous faces will go around ranting this BS and actually think they have an argument. Nobody expects a gas station to pay employees $50,000 a year for pumping gas and running a convenience store but they should be paid at least enough to live off of. Furthermore, prices have already gone up, its the minimum wage that has not risen to compensate for the increase in prices. Because of this, a person is an able to buy the basic necessities as they were 10 years ago. If you wanna make a reasonable argument make one, I'm listening.

Adam said...

By the way Neil, excellent post. I live in the ninth (Duffield) and I agree with you that if Democrats would just spend some time understanding issues important to people down here if they would easily be able to turn the ninth District to a much more competitive district.

Anonymous said...

get some tolerance adam you dumbass, teenagers shouldn't be allowed to work, they are children, if they need money we should give it to them

I just wish more people could understand that the mimum wage should be a living wage, not some dumb shit teenagers go to the movies and buy beer wage

Neal said...

As a teenager, I do like the ability to have a job.
Even if you're a teeneger, you deserve minimum wage too (minimum wage at the increased level). We're all Americans. Even those of us under 18...

(p.s.-Please don't use potty language. We're G-rated here. :) )

Adam said...

What?????? the post you left does not sound anything like an argument for living wage. More like sarcasm. A $50,000 living wage would destroy every low-wage business in the country. It would be impossible for a gas station or restaurant or most businesses for that matter to pay a minimum of $30,000-$50,000 a year each employee. That is of course unless you would like to pay $300 or $400 for a meal and $150 for a gallon of gas. Teenagers play an important role in the economy as well as learn responsibility and hopefully money-management. For some jobs it is just not practical to pay $10 or $20 an hour to an employee. however they should have to pay at least adequately based on the workload of employee and income of the business.

James E. Martin said...

check out creighs interview on raising kaine.

Shaula Evans said...

Brilliant post, Neal.

But, blogging it isn't enough.

I really encourage you to email the article (text and link) to the state party, the DCCC, and the DNC.

If you don't tell them directly, you can't blame them for not acting on your great advice. can probably have fun blogging on what kind of responses you get.

Anonymous said...

teenagers are children and child labor is illegal

and whats wrong with paying $150 a gallon for gas? that would get rid of the internal combustion engine that plagues the planet and pay people what they are really worth, stop being stingy you sound like a goddamn republican

Neal said...

While raising gas prices to 150 a gallon would eliminate that type of energy (or at least the want), it would hurt the poorest among us, and we can't do that.

Also, as I'm sure you're aware, there is an age requirement to work at 99% of workplaces, and it is usually 14 or 15, and parents usually have to sign. They're old enough to know what they want to do, need to do, can do, and ought to do.

Shaula, I'm taking your advice and forwarding this on to the DNC, DCCC, and VDP. I look forward to their responses.

And, Anonymous, please don't be using potty language. What if my kindergarten teacher stopped in on here?

Anonymous said...

Neal: Great post!Working people need more champions. Leslie Byrne

Charlie said...

Anyone preparing to deliver the "increased minimum wasge = layoffs" argument should first consult this post from RK:

And my post on the same subject from a month ago:

And 50K a year? My gosh! A full time minimum wage earner's yearly income is approximately:


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Larry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neal said...

No more potty mouth. I'll have to start removing comments, and that's no fun.