Appalachia as a microcosm for the larger American story

“It’s always been easy to think of Eastern Kentucky as separate and apart from America’s mainstream,” today’s Lexington Hearld-Leader editorial says. “But the notion of Appalachian exceptionalism has never been reality and is more wrong today than ever.”

The region, it states, is a microcosm of the larger story of America.

It goes on:

Any plan for igniting Eastern Kentucky’s moribund economy will have to be built on principles that would work anywhere: Local ownership; support for entrepreneurs; a healthy, educated workforce; healthy land, clean water, good food; towns and parks where people want to visit, live and invest; accountable, honest government; clean energy, and, as Lexington Mayor Jim Gray often says, an authenticity of place.

By the same token, Eastern Kentucky can never pull itself up in a country where the deck is stacked overwhelmingly in favor of the rich and powerful, where Congress won’t raise the minimum wage to make work a rational alternative to disability, or tax the wealthy to support early childhood programs, first-generation college students or the kind of investment in research and infrastructure that built U.S. prosperity and the middle class.

A lot needs to happen in Eastern Kentucky to help rebuild the economy, and the Herald-Leader is certainly on the right track with their assessment.