Activist and writer Michael Harrington (1928–1989) published The Other
America: Poverty in the United States in 1962. Read by President Kennedy and
many others, this highly influential book argued that despite America’s
apparent postwar prosperity, tens of millions of Americans were stuck in
desperate poverty. The Other America spurred many of the domestic policy
initiatives undertaken by the federal government in the 1960s, known as the “War on Poverty.”
In April 1964 president Lyndon Johnson traveled to Martin County, Kentucky, in the heart of Appalachia to launch the nation’s War on Poverty. Within a year—with passage of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 (ARDA)—Appalachia was designated as a special economic zone. The act created a federal and state partnership known as the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), whose mission is to expand the economic opportunities of the area’s residents by increasing job opportunities, human capital, and transportation.
Over $23 billion had been spent on the region through the auspices of ARDA; roughly half of the funds were from ARC and the remainder were from other federal, state, and local programs. Most of which seemed to have been spent on initiating support for the people in their current time, but little was allocated for future education of the next generation or small business entrepreneurship. Another issue was that there was very little funding allocated for the schools and vocational programs..
Now that we are in the Information age, the problem with the region today is that because very little was done to educate the children of the five generations that followed the initiation of the ARDA. The region and people are not considered advantageous in soliciting businesses and companies to move to the area.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you believe that more could have been done to help the people of the Appalachian?
My opinion is that America is much to wealthy of a country to have the poverty and homelessness problems that we do. We need to take care of our own, and fix what is broken internally, not only physically, but mentally and Spiritually as a Nation.
ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission). 2009. Performance and Accountability Report
Autor, David, Lawrence Katz, and Melissa Kearney. 2006. “The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market.” American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 96, no. 2: 189–94.
Billings, Dwight, and Kathleen Blee. 2000. The Road to Poverty: The Making of Wealth and
Hardship in Appalachia. Cambridge University Press
Caudill, Harry. 1963. Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area. New York: Little, Brown.
Harrington, Michael. 1962. The Other America. New York: Scribner