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 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...
"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.
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.
Keep in mind that W KY is basically a live episode of "People of Walmart"—not exactly the place to find hotties.
She sat in my lap and soaked up my attention like it was the only resource left on this Earth.
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!
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.
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?
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."
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.
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.
It was REALLY F'N BAD 15 years ago.
It's got to be HELL now.
What happened? Where do we go from here?
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?
• Synthetic viruses
But one thing is far worse, IMO:
• Chinese manufacturing
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?
America is where sh*t got made (at least version 1.0).
When that started to change, America changed with it.
And as a result, low-skilled labor got outsourced to countries where abuse and exploitation were tolerated.
Worker abuse? Human rights?
Meh—China got what it wanted.
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.
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.
• 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
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).
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 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.
ALL OF IT.
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.
What's the cost of dissolving America's network of small towns, leaving only urban centers?
What about the people?
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.