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From November 2003 through July 2005, I worked in the prepaid cell phone and phone card industry.

Most of my work was in BFE meth towns and urban ghettoes.

I learned things about the poor in this country that most of you wouldn't believe.
The situation was HORRIBLE in 2005.

The opioid crisis was already in full swing in rural Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio.

Small-town South Carolina was no better.

To think we are 15 years removed from that...

and things have only gotten worse...

Back then, small towns in Western Kentucky had *nothing* going on.

"Commerce" amounted to a Super 8 motel, a few gas stations, and fast food.

If you were in one of the better towns, you might have had the option to feast at Applebee's.
The social situation matched the commerce—broke and destitute.

Hell, Western Kentucky wasn't even "rich" enough for meth...

Everybody was on crank, which is basically the same thing, but with lower quality and produced by someone with fewer teeth.
One day, after delivering phones all over Western Kentucky, I decided to have a drink at a titty bar in Christian County (lol).

Keep in mind that W KY is basically a live episode of "People of Walmart"—not exactly the place to find hotties.
But as soon as I entered that titty bar, this lithe angel—wearing a white lacey thing—floated over to my table like a moth drawn to flame.

She sat in my lap and soaked up my attention like it was the only resource left on this Earth.
This was by far the most attractive woman I'd seen in WEEKS of working W KY.

Young, beautiful, giving me lots of energy—what the hell was she doing in such a desolate, hopeless place?

After half an hour of conversation, she asked to leave the bar with me!
Well, fam, this set off every alarm I've got.

The situation went from pleasant-but-strange to "what the hell is going on here?"

I was 23 years old at the time—and not exactly the poster child for self-restraint or giving a f*ck.

But I knew something wasn't right.
I grabbed the girl's hand and pulled it close to inspect it.

Her skin was perfect. She was YOUNG.

Was this a sting?

I began to suspect this girl wasn't 18. And what did she want?
She started begging me to leave with her.

I told her there was no way in hell that was gonna happen, and in fact, I had to GTFO because things seemed shady.

That's when she told me:

"I'm only 15."

"Please, I'll leave with you right now and we can go get some crank."

And there it was.

She was 15. Stripping. And addicted to drugs made by people with 2-digit IQs who never attended a high school chemistry class.
Equipped with this new perspective, I started feeling worse and worse about the work I was doing.

No *wonder* everybody looks like People of Walmart.

No *wonder* there's no commerce.

No *wonder* there's no energy.

Small town America was rotting from the inside-out.
When people talk about the opioid crisis now, all I can think is—

It was REALLY F'N BAD 15 years ago.

It's got to be HELL now.

What happened? Where do we go from here?
Well, now we have fentanyl.

Instead of becoming hopelessly addicted and having their lives slip away slowly, addicts can now enjoy death's sweet embrace at any moment thanks to a tainted supply.

And do you know where fentanyl comes from?

China 🇨🇳
And now it's Corona SZN, which has me thinking about China's bullsh*t:

• Opioids

• Fentanyl

• Synthetic viruses

All trash.

But one thing is far worse, IMO:

• Chinese manufacturing
Have you ever thought about this?

For most of her life, America has been a rural nation.

When transportation was WORSE, America's population was even more spread out than it is now.

Does that make any damn sense?
Many factors play a role here, obviously, but the most important one—and the one that drove and sustained American cities from 1865 through 1960—was manufacturing.

America is where sh*t got made (at least version 1.0).

When that started to change, America changed with it.
As America became more of a regulatory state, pressure to keep prices down (while remaining compliant) became a primary animating force for manufacturing companies.

And as a result, low-skilled labor got outsourced to countries where abuse and exploitation were tolerated.
From the 1970s through the present, China has been more than happy to absorb the manufacturing that quite literally floated every small American town through the first half of the 20th century.

Worker abuse? Human rights?

Meh—China got what it wanted.
What did China want?

An economic foothold for growth.

With the western world relying on China for its manufacturing, China had an economic insurance policy that would cause short-term chaos for any nation that wished to untether itself from them.
It's fair to blame American companies for moving their manufacturing to China.

I'm more likely to blame the regulatory climate, but I concede that worldwide imbalances in cost of living will inevitably shift manufacturing centers to wherever is cheapest.
But I look at this whole situation, and I think about:

• the way small American towns worked when manufacturing happened here

• that 15yo girl, stripping and addicted to crank

• the destitute feeling of small-town America in the 21st century

God damn.
In a way, we are all complicit.

We want nice stuff at low prices.

We want to feel like we operate in a humane, high-brow way.

In reality, we've just moved the really bad "sins" to places where we don't have to feel like we're accountable (like China).
But we are BLIND.

We literally mortgaged America's small towns and her children to achieve these goals.

I cannot look at COVID or iPhones or opioids or f*cking ANYTHING without thinking about China and how America has hitched her wagon to this rotten death spiral.
In hindsight, what was that 15yo girl supposed to do?

In 2020, there's no social *anything* in Bumfuck, America.

There are few factories where men—her potential suitors—could have stable jobs.

There's no energy moving into those communities; nothing new is on the horizon.
It's time to move manufacturing back to America.


It's immoral to do business the way we have, ESPECIALLY since it's all in the name of cheaper goods and more socially-acceptable PR.

But nobody talks about the American human cost.

We have paid enough.
Although we can get stuffed animals for $0.86 apiece and iPhones for $1000, we haven't done a full accounting of the cost of shifting manufacturing to China.

What's the cost of dissolving America's network of small towns, leaving only urban centers?

What about the people?
To me, this is a lot like the mental vs. physical balance we all must strive for to be effective players in life.

America has focused on one thing—the physical, in this case—at the expense of the mental.

We are out of balance.

And we have leaned on China to get here.
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