Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area

By Harry M. Caudill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
The Case for a Southern Mountain Authority

THE READER who has followed me thus far cannot fail to wonder whether the difficulties which beset the Cumberland Plateau are susceptible of solutions which social and economic planners can devise and which the taxpayers can sustain. So complex and deeply rooted are the region's problems that one may seriously question whether the nation possesses the skill and tenacity to cope with them successfully. Understandable as such a reaction may be it is one of despair ill-suited to a public which has unhesitatingly poured out billions of dollars in an effort to raise living standards, create better social orders and stabilize governments around the globe. If the safety and peace of the American Republic require that we rescue Bolivia, Laos, Tunisia, the Congo and Greece the same considerations must necessitate the succor of these islands of poverty in our own land.

If the Republic is to undertake to rehabilitate the plateau and to give it a productive, full-scale role in the nation's life, its approach must be of a long-range character. Any symptomatic treatment calculated to produce quick and spectacular results would, most probably, be of little lasting benefit and might, indeed, be ultimately harmful. The mountaineer has been surveyed and studied for years. His communities have been invaded by statisticians and sociologists sponsored by state and Federal governments and by private foundations. Reams of reports have been written about him -- reports which statistically outline every facet of his life. Nothing more has emerged

-365-

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