The New York Times takes a look at things in Alabama today….
A lot of us have NO idea how the place is and why someone like Roy Moore could ganner votes…
Read the linked piece….
Makes ya scratch your head that the piece is about an American state…
The state is so often stellar in football, residents say ruefully, and not much else, a consequence of generations of bitter fights, political turbulence and eternal divides over race and class.
About 17 percent of Alabamians live in poverty — the fifth-highest rate in the country — and the state’s violence-wracked prisons are jammed to 159 percent of their intended capacity. With budget troubles a chronic fact of life, spending on Medicaid, which has not been expanded, lags. Standardized test scores are among the nation’s lowest. Heart disease and diabetes are endemic.
Last year, Marion, a rural city in central Alabama, suffered a tuberculosis outbreak so severe that its incidence rate was worse than that of many developing countries.
The infant mortality rate for 2016 rose to 9.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, the highest rate the state has seen since 2008. (The national rate was 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015, the most recent year for which federal data is available.) The mortality rate was more than twice as high for black infants as white ones, and in some parts of the state, like Perry or Pickens Counties, the rate was 25.6 and 30.3.
“I think we really don’t know why it’s going up,” said Grace Thomas, the assistant state health officer for family health services with the state’s Department of Public Health, who called the rates a “key indicator of a health care system’s effectiveness” and said black, Hispanic and poor women were less likely to get the care they need.
Paris Daves, 24, said it took her several months after she found out she was pregnant last year to get on Medicaid, although she has since drawn support from an organization called Gift of Life, which works to prevent infant mortality in Montgomery. But as a young, single parent, there are other problems, too, like unreliable public transportation and low wages.
“Minimum wage here is $7.25,” said Ms. Daves, who earns a dollar more than that as a shift manager at McDonald’s. “That’s not enough to pay my rent or take care of my son.”
In Haleyville, northwest of Birmingham, the coming shutdown of the hospital looms over the city where, in 1968, the country’s first 911 call was made.
But you can pick anyplace in Alabama and find issues that feel somewhere between daunting and suffocating. In the Black Belt, named for its rich topsoil, but now a region of widespread rural poverty, people still wonder whether once-plentiful jobs will ever come back….