Saturday, March 04, 2006

River Vices: Porksmouth; A must read for all Ohioans

Portsmouth, Ohio resident Robert Forrey (River Vices) can be credited for turning Porkopolis on to the Pork in Portsmouth investigative series (Pork in Portsmouth?, Update on Pork in Portsmouth, Pork in Portsmouth Confirmed, Pork in Portsmouth Part 4, Pork Article and Rebuttal, Pork in Portsmouth Part 5 ).

This week Robert follows up with an excellent essay providing historical context for his thesis that the Second District City of Portsmouth has declined into Porksmouth.

Here's an excerpt from the essay:

...The previous, pre-war, heavily industrialized but now depressed post-war city of Portsmouth became classified by the USDA as a “rural area,” part of the Appalachian region, thereby making it eligible for USDA pork. I was told by a native of Portsmouth, who moved back after spending most of his adult life elsewhere, that he was surprised to discover upon his return to Portsmouth that he had grown up in Appalachia. To someone growing up in Portsmouth back in the 1940s and 1950s, being Appalachian had more disadvantages than advantages, and was more likely something to be ashamed than proud of. Beginning in the 1960s, when President Johnson declared war on poverty, that situation changed. Because it was repackaged as an Appalachian community, Portsmouth qualified as underprivileged and neglected and a candidate for special government assistance. If you were Appalachian, you were assumed to be a victim of poverty, and the government was obliged, perhaps as a holdover of the Great Depression, to assist the victims of poverty as much possible.

As far as Ohio is concerned, Portsmouth is at the top of the Federal Pork Barrel. The primary governmental pork provider for Portsmouth is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). To facilitate the funneling of federal dollars into south-central Ohio, the USDA designated the Portsmouth area as the Greater Portsmouth Enterprise Community (GPEC), a kind of most-favored-pork-district classification. Apparently, no other Ohio area enjoys this distinction. I don't know whether the late Vern Riffe had anything to do with it, but Portsmouth is unique.

Incidentally, when it provides relief, the US government prefers, in Orwellian fashion, to convey it in the language of entrepreneurial capitalism, in which “enterprise” is a sacred word. In urban areas there are “Enterprise zones,” in rural areas “Enterprise Communities.” Lord help those who live in neither, because the government apparently will not...


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