Thursday, February 10, 2005

Too Late for Katie, Town Tackles a Drug's Scourge

From the NY Times:

"John Neace forces himself to pass by the run-down apartment buildings every day. Inside, the police say, Mr. Neace's 10-year-old daughter stumbled on someone with methamphetamine last month. Her drowned body was found five days later at a nearby creek, small hands tied tightly behind her back.

...

'If we had a brothel move into town, people would close it down instantly,' said the Rev. Jon Pearce of the First Baptist Church here. 'If we had an X-rated movie house come, it'd be gone within a week. But this has been here. It is a monster. We didn't know what kind of monster it was.'"


I'm pretty hard-hearted, but this story made me cry. It's so sad what happens to these small rural communities, a cycle of unemployment, meth, oxycontin, and death.

At first glance, it's easy to think it's just like in the inner cities, drugs and violence appear when people are cut off from opportunity. The county where L-Hack and I used to work is a hotbed of meth activity in North Carolina, but they're only 30 minutes from Raleigh. There's a lot of growth in the area, but it's more sprawl than in-place development. As the suburbs expand, the meth labs close down, but that's not a solution. You can't build a city everywhere.

Is this the cause - is this just the final act in "creative destruction"? When the industry is destroyed, the population that went with it becomes a surplus that liquidates itself with drugs and violence? Is this the generational effect of change? The people don't change, they just disappear. Some leave these towns and places, some get overrun by urban sprawl, and other stay on until they all commit a genocide on themselves?

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