Calvert City, KY – America is the largest and strongest economy in the world. Its’ single states have economies stronger than those of entire nations. Its’ citizens, according to Time, on January 14th of this year, own up to 50 percent of the world civilian owned guns. Our president is known as the leader of the free world. America has the strongest army on the planet, some of its ships housing thousands of crew members. For America, to declare war is to win the war.
Some have had the experience of seeing a coin laying on the ground, catching your eye because of the glint off of it made by the lights on its smooth and polished surface. But when you turn the coin over, you see it is rusted on its underside, and eaten away with corruption and decay and wear.
Recently I was in Cairo, Illinois, the place where Ulysses S. Grant once had his headquarters during the American Civil War. But now there are no long rows of white tents, no drumming and bugle calls waking grumbling soldiers dresses in blue to another day of camp life. The dazzling devil-may-care saber wielding last-of-the-knight cavalry are gone. Instead there is a town of boarded up buildings.
Restaurants, shopping centers, gas stations, and churches are all closed. Massive parking lots stretched out to the tree line, weeds and flowers pocking up through the cracks. Loiterers were everywhere, and so was graffiti, even a church, with no name or times for service visible, had a large sign which read “No Loitering.”
But above all of this, filling several city block and taking up perhaps a hundred acres, was a fenced in, massive factory, flanked by a granary. Neither operates any longer. According to the man I had lunch with on Sunday, a member of a church in the area, that factory shut down not because it ran out of money or business, but it was forced to relocate because of a shortage of labor.
This is the other side of the coin. The rusted, decayed side. This is the side in which The Other Half Lives. The place where mechanics shops sit closed, and the perhaps the briskest business in the once good sized town and one of the few places still open is the bank. The place where bankruptcies are managed.
However, this underside did not develop because of a coin toss.
To be continued.
Andrew C. Abbott