The Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission: Twenty-Five Years of Government Policy

Michael Bradshaw
With a Foreword by John D. Rockefeller
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    The Appalachian Regional Commission
    Book Description:

    The images of poverty in Appalachia that John F. Kennedy used in his campaign for the presidency in 1960 shocked and disturbed many Americans. Five years later, President Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Congress demonstrated their commitment to that neglected and exploited region with the creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission. In this insightful book, Michael Bradshaw explores the ARC's unique federal-state partnership and analyses in detail the contributions of the local development districts.

    But this work is more than an analysis of a government agency; it is, as Bradshaw notes, "a book about an attempt to change the human geography of a large region of the United States by means of public policy." Bradshaw offers important insights into the ARC's interactions with six administrations throughout its history. The Reagan years were especially challenging: during his eight years in office, Reagan left the ARC out of his budget entirely, but support from the state governors and Congress prevented closing of the Commission and maintained basic funding.

    The bottom line for an agency such as the ARC is whether it has made any difference in the lives of the people of Appalachia. Many would say their lives have been affected positively by the government funds that have been poured into the region, but many others continue to question the ways in which the ARC was established and operated. This is a book that should be read by any citizen who is interested in how to make government work effectively at all levels.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6221-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps, Charts, and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    John D. Rockefeller IV

    In 1964 I came to Appalachia as a VISTA volunteer in the community of Emmons, West Virginia. During the two years I lived and worked in Emmons, I tried hard to contribute to an improved quality of life for its citizens. But, frankly, whatever contribution I may have made is dwarfed by what I learned from its citizens—about their perseverance, hard work, and strongly held moral values; about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. In a larger sense I came to appreciate how far we had to go in assuring all our citizens an equal opportunity to share in the...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. 1 Appalachia: Planning and Public Policy
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book is about an attempt to change the human geography of a large region in the United States by means of public policy. Every region is subjected to changes in its human geography through time. Many of these are economic changes that result from the fluctuating status of the region’s resources. These resources are finite and may become exhausted; they are also subject to vicissitudes in the value given them by the market. Other economic changes result from improved technology, which affects transport systems, sources of energy, and industrial processes. In addition, there are changes in social conditions such...

  8. 2 Origins of the Problems of Appalachia
    (pp. 13-25)

    The problems of such a large region as Appalachia are essentially complex and cannot be expected to have simple solutions. Contemporary problems have their roots in historical events involving economic, social, environmental, and political factors. Different parts of the region have their own distinctive histories. An understanding of the roots of the problems, and their varied expressions throughout Appalachia, provides a second set of contexts that form a necessary prelude to making an assessment of the work of the ARC.

    This chapter first examines the natural features and historical events that gave rise to the human geography of Appalachia in...

  9. 3 The Origins of the ARC: Mid-1950s to 1965
    (pp. 26-46)

    The Appalachian Regional Commission was established in 1965 as a result of the Appalachian Regional Development Act passed by Congress in March of that year. This chapter reviews the processes and events which culminated in that piece of legislation. It illustrates the way in which particular issues within the United States are brought to Washington and the vicissitudes that affect the progress of legislation. It also demonstrates how forces in the U.S. political system that act against region-based policies were overcome to produce an innovative law.

    Attempts to design economic development legislation were instigated in the mid-1950s by Senator Paul...

  10. 4 The Early Development of the ARC, 1965-75
    (pp. 47-66)

    Once the president had signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act into law in the Rose Garden ceremony, the most important question (as for any public-policy program) had to be faced: would it work out in practice? The first essentials were to establish working procedures and to show that something could be achieved quickly. Politicians and the general public tended to be impatient for results after years of waiting for the legislation to materialize.

    The newly formed Appalachian Regional Commission was the focus of many hopes, but it had to face a number of difficulties in its early days. First, it...

  11. 5 The Maturity of the ARC, 1975-80
    (pp. 67-101)

    When a government agency is said to reach “maturity,” it must have achieved a position where it is functioning at the height of its potential powers and is able to carry out the job for which it was designed. It also involves an element of acceptability by other mature institutions in society and a willingness on their part to work with the agency on equal terms.

    The ARC was in this position for a relatively short span of six years from 1975 through 1980. During this time it obtained its greatest access to federal grant aid funds and the widest...

  12. 6 The Reagan Years, 1981-89, and Beyond
    (pp. 102-121)

    President Reagan’s attitude could not have been clearer. From the moment he entered the White House, he did what he could to get rid of regional commissions. The Title V commissions found few champions and were closed in 1981; in every year of the Reagan presidency the executive budget proposals included no funding for the ARC. No arguments based on the success of the ARC program, the needs of rural America, or the fact that the ideas behind the Commission were essentially close to the president’s own thinking in involving the states could change his mind on this matter. Various...

  13. 7 A Political Approach to Regional Development
    (pp. 122-143)

    Three separate but overlapping approaches evaluating the role and work of the Appalachian Regional Commission since its establishment in 1965 can be summarized in three questions:

    Did the ARC fulfill its legislated charge?

    Has the ARC been able to change the human geography of Appalachia?

    What lessons has the ARC provided for regional development theory?

    These three questions can be viewed as three circles of increasing generality. It is first necessary to assess how the Commission has matched up to the task set by the U.S. Congress. The language of the legislation and specific hopes expressed at the outset may...

  14. 8 The Wider Significance of the ARC
    (pp. 144-154)

    The Appalachian Regional Commission was established to address the problems of a specific major region within the United States. Its level of success was assessed in Chapter 7; however, its particular strengths mean that there are further questions to be asked in this final chapter. Have lessons been learned which will be of use in other regions or contexts in the United States? Does the United States face in the 1990s problems similar to those of 1960 in Appalachia? Such questions are of interest to people concerned with regional disparities and their links to the workings of government in coping...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 155-164)
  16. Index
    (pp. 165-168)