While researching the efforts by the administration to expand food stamp participation, Caroline May of the Daily Caller unearthed one particular point of frustration for food stamp officials: "mountain pride."That article was from 2012, so we had a whole second term of trying to cut down on mountain pride. I wonder how it turned out. Some of it's left, I can well warrant, but I wonder just how much.
Mountain pride prevents many Appalachian residents from accepting food stamps even though they're eligible, according to the Ashe County North Carolina Department of Social Services. As a result, social workers in the rural Appalachian county, which borders Tennessee and Virginia, are developing strategies and offering rewards for defeating mountain pride. Apparently, as they see it, they need to get more silly hillbillies to take their government handouts like other Americans.
Appalachian culture, above all else, is defined by self-reliance. Where cities had specialists -- carpenters, blacksmiths, tanners and bakers, for example -- isolation created by the difficult terrain meant Appalachian settlers and generations of their descendants were forced to be jacks of all trades. Every person was his own butcher, baker and candlestick maker.
If hard times hit or tragedy struck, these tough souls didn't rely on the government for assistance. They simply persevered, maybe with a helping hand from their church or their closest neighbors, who were often miles away.
While there might be fewer outhouses and more satellite dishes in hollows of rural Appalachia today than in times past, that independent spirit and self-reliance persists. As a result, some people would sooner go to bed hungry than accept a government handout. That is the essence of mountain pride.
Flashback: The War on 'Mountain Pride'
How much of it is left?
By Grim on Sunday, March 26, 2017