With the economy in the tank, poverty on the rise, jobs packing up and shipping out, and liberals blocking any chance of new domestic energy jobs, it seems that the only thing the Appalachian region of the country has going for it is SEC basketball and football.

(Strangely that has been enough to keep us all sane.)

Take it from me; the people of Appalachia have a different way of doing things. Growing up in the heartland of the heartland, the little tri-state area between the Appalachian portion of Ohio (where it is pronounced Oh-hi-ya), Northeastern Kentucky, and West Virginia, I have learned that people in this particular area have trust issues. And who can blame them?  Be it iron ore, coal, timber, steel, or just plain old manual labor, some “slick city fella has came in and taken advantage of us and the bounty that our region provides.”

As a hillbilly once famously said, “Every time you meet a person here, they already have two strikes against you, so try not to screw it up the first time around.” We are quite accustomed to being used and abused but we are always looking for that person who is here to help us out of the kindness of their heart, not for the benefit of their wallet.

Physical pain is common to an area where people work hard for a living.  Food is put on the table by the sweat of your brow, the strength of your back, and the grace of the good Lord. The chemical plants, the coal mines, or the boat and train yards are all solid examples of good old-fashioned work, which serves as the cornerstone of life in Appalachia; without it, you don’t eat. The way we see it, that’s the way it should be.

We seek comfort for the spiritual ailments from Christ. As for the physical pain that comes from swinging a pick or from years of breathing coal dust, well, a few years back we met our medical messiah for those problems, Oxycontin. Turns out, he is a false prophet.

Crippling addictions to legal drugs (via crooked “Doctors” who were no better than petty drug dealers) rocked Appalachia; and my home county of Scioto, in particular. These little shops started popping up all over the place, under the facade of “pain management clinics,” where a person could walk in, claim to have a sore back and for a roll of cash be out the door with a bottle of pills.  Quickly, after crime and life-taking addictions increased, the clinics were given a nickname: “Pill Mills.” At one point, in 2008, a study by the state pharmacy board of Ohio showed that in Scioto County alone, 35 million pills were dispersed by the 12 operating pill mills. In a county of 76,000 people, that is 460 pills for every man, woman, and child in the county. A dark cloud hung over my community for a long time.

Finally a local group of folks who had lost loved ones decided to take their organization, SOLACE (Surviving Our Losses And Continuing Everyday), from the stages of a support group to an army of hope for our community. SOLACE outed these “Pill Mills,” and with the help of a local state Representative, law enforcement officials, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, SOLACE cracked down and shut down every last “Pill Mill” in the county.

Scioto County won a large battle in 2011, but the war is far from over.

Recommended: Rally behind these support groups for addicts and their families who have suffered from “Pill Mills.”

Now that the “drive through drug dealers” are gone, the addictions remain, but the resources are limited. We have been told to expect a rise in break-ins because addicts will be coming in looking for prescribed pain pills from folks suspected to have them, such as cancer patients and older citizens. Also, we are supposed to see a spike in the use of the cheaper alternative to Oxycontin: Heroin.

I write this so that all of you may know what is happening. Don’t think for a minute this is taken care of or even that it is only a problem for us “pill-billies.”  This is a wakeup call to big government folks everywhere.  The story I just described is fashioned and promoted by big government’s intervention and the resulting domestic “blowback.”

Our government has been at war with poverty, declared war on drugs, decided that people aren’t responsible enough to use firearms, and denied business access to resources for fear of “environmental damage.”  So thanks to the “moral” legislated corrections of the government in the supposed “best interest of the citizenry”, the once proud industrious people of Appalachia now have no jobs due to big government’s industry regulations, and therefore, are mostly on welfare and dependent on the government for sustenance.

Thanks to the intrusive, authoritative,”father-knows-best” form of government, the people of Appalachia have been reduced to needy, broken, dope fiends, lying around stoned out of their minds, sucking their thumbs, and waiting for the first of the month to roll around so they can go to Wal-Mart and blow their welfare check on cigarettes and fast food that is killing them as well.

I wonder if, after reading this, the Occupy Wall Street folks still want the Government to do something about their so-called “wealth inequality.”

Know Government, no Freedom. No Government, know Freedom.

Tanner Salyers // Shawnee State University // @TannerSalyers