Injury Box Blog: Pics Parasites Poverty

Last week I "kinda severely" injured my left hamstring in two winter-home-weatherization related incidents.  What has been frustrating has been to be home-bound but unable to sit still, upright in a chair for long.  Makes for halting, sporadic blogging.

Last weekend's post "Missing Poverty: Poverty Comedy" was messy, but I'm kind of excited by something that turned up from inside it.   The parallels between 1960s Ozarks and 2010s West Africa is not exactly uncanny, we've even been there before.  But the Hans Rosling videos I've been engrossed by this winter helped me generalize my subjective insights.

In 2009, South Korea became the first former recipient of OECD economic assistance to join the assistance giving committee.   South Korea was admitted to the OECD in 1996, 25 years after OECD was defined.  The 1961 original OECD membership list was whites - only (not even Japan was considered "developed").  Kids in college today are getting a message about "developing world" from people who considered South Korea a charity case, and they are getting the message on Samsung handheld devices (which they use to shop for Hyundais and Subarus in another tab).

You can track affluence and progress through lifecycle of appliances.  Koreans bought used products from affluent 1970s Japan.  Selling a first used car to a teenager is not necessarily "exploiting" the teenager.  Selling a starter home to a young family is not making them poor.  The guilt-by-association with poverty dogs the used goods market, and photographic snapshots of poverty should not become a modern soul snatching juju.

It's a fallacy that invokes instincts of nurture and instincts of aversion, and it sways crowds of people who self identify as "Agents of Conscience".   The key is to understand spiritual materialism (the desire to be a good soul) and history of development.  Rosling has shown how the majority of humans, like my Ozark cousins, have emerged from poverty within generational memory.  We need to explain to the Royals that fixing and recycling stuff isn't suffering.

Many places have been wealthy for so many generations that they do not have any institutional recollection of the end of poverty.  But for those of us who can remember, boycotting the poor is not how affluence went down.

I was born in 1962.  The Ozarks I grew up around had a history of poverty, and a history of journalism and creative writing depicting it.

The recognition of the poverty led (for better or for works) to the Tennessee Valley Authority projects.  Powersite Dam in Forsyth, and Table Rock Dam in the 1950s were the "bookends" of federal development dollars which brought a lot of both wealth and modern day necessities.   Silver Dollar City became a tourist attraction which tried to preserve the "old ways" and to depict the "good enough market" of the Ozarks with some respect.   But the Presleys and Baldknobber music shows were professional clown acts.  I've never seen them;  my grandparents bristled if the subject came up.

Of course, our favorite Saturday AM Bugs Bunny episode was about Northwest Arkansas.

And that's the rub.   You enjoy that there's something about you in modern popular culture.  But the stereotypes about you can be infuriating.    You don't want to deny ignorance and poverty where it exists, and you don't want to be ignored and treated like everyone else.   But you don't like the Hollywood stereotype being applied to you personally, or the people you know.

Fixing a Flat by Norman Rockwell (1946)

August 6, 1946

KY3, my Grandma Frieda's preferred new channel, covered a small fire breaking out at a Greene County Landfill last summer.

Geographically the Rockwell image of the Ozarks above, and the t-shirted worker hosing down a landfill fire, are proximate.

Defining geographical areas on maps as "OECD" and "non-OECD", as "first world" and "third world", as "developed" and "lesser developed", should now be known as "quaint-ass profiling".

I've seen teenagers in Africa with screwdrivers fix electronics in less than ten minutes, generating hundreds of dollars of income for their families.   And it wasn't too different from watching my Ozark bred grandfather fix the timing belt on his 1960s Chevy pickup.

Someone could have photographed my grandfather in his oily overalls, in his garage (which used to be his house) with the wood outhouse behind him, and sold it as a verified "hillbilly sighting".

Snapping photographs of kids who live in the hood and saying you have been face to face with gang members is a special place in journalism hell.   I don't have time to morph Bill O'Reilly's face with Satan, but you can do it here.

We are all guilty of it, I know I myself wanted to always take pics of kids at dumps when I visited emerging markets, to prove I'd been there.   If you go to Africa or Asia and take pictures of shopping malls, you feel you are wasting both film and a plane ticket.

#PovertyPorn has a value to something innate, something sexual, inner drives of nurture and aversion which would demand the attention of Steven Pinker and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations.   I'm a poor entrepreneur and spare time blogger.   But this is the insight we need to cure the fever of #whitesaviorcomplex and #parasitesofthepoor.

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