That "reflects, in part, the more complex houses that Habitat builds in the United States, as well as the mind-numbing issues -- involving insurance costs and government regulations -- that seem to have bogged down efforts to rebuild after Hurricanes Katrina... (Volunteer group lags in replacing Gulf houses, New York Times, February 22, 2007).
Even without that latter disastrous devastation, though; but also in spite of huge latter-day gaming profits, Mississippi has, just as it did back in 1979, according to Rogers:.".. The largest proportion of poor families and persons of any State and poverty is more frequent among persons over the age of 65, persons living alone, black families, female headed families, and rural residents. Mississippi also has the largest proportion of school age children in poverty..." In 1979, the report Poverty in Mississippi: A statistical analysis (Rogers) ordered by the Governor's Office of Human Resources suggested "Ameliorative steps...include policies relating to migration, selective placement programs, taxation, educational opportunity, employment opportunities, retirement plans, and minimum wage legislation.
Those same remedies would be even more ameliorative today, especially given the additional human needs and economic and other deficits rained down and blown around by Katrina (yet still largely unaddressed a year and a half later). As current solutions to chronic and ongoing Mississippi poverty, moreover, combinations of good and inexpensive educational opportunities; jobs; and existing and/or expanding infrastructure could, if well-planned and supported, economically, long-term; and then carried out purposefully; persistently; patiently (and with unflagging seriousness of commitment) make the state again economically viable. Too many Mississippians, though, become and remain economically disadvantaged, since they are to begin with poor, and then poorly educated; underemployed (or chronically unemployed), and lacking in opportunity or capability to acquire better-quality and more useful education, skills, jobs, and higher incomes.
Gulf Coast gaming, even as it flourishes, has caused social problems as well, e.g., gambling addictions among those who can afford it least, as well as alcohol and other addiction problems, any or all of which can and often do lead to even further economic hardship for individuals and families. Mississippi, to ever truly escape its financial doldrums, needs not just fully recovery from Katrina, but also to then begin seriously solving especially its rural poverty problems, beginning with widespread and aggressive educational outreach efforts, including vocational training,...
Some of that revenue should be used to substantially improve public education quality and access; strengthen infrastructure throughout the state, and create new, better, more plentiful and desirable jobs, thereby attracting the best and brightest to the state while retaining the brightest, best-educated younger adults and families who would otherwise (as many do now) relocate to other states with better economies and life opportunities. Finally, Mississippi needs to now take an objective critical look at the considerable social, economic, and other ills of the Gulf Coast gaming culture that has sprung up there since 1990, and use some of that revenue stream to seriously treat addiction problems among local populations: especially ones that were poor already, and that gaming itself has actually hurt far more than it has helped.
Appel, Adrianne. (October 7, 2005). In poverty-stricken Mississippi, Katrina's damage lingers. National Geographic News [online]. Retrieved February 25, 2007 at http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:G85nYqxoB64J:news.
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Ownby, T. (1999). American dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, poverty, & culture,1830-1998. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
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