The wife and I took a Sunday drive in mid-August.  We had planned on going to a festival in Shelbyville, IN. that weekend.

That Festival was a shell of what it once was.  Three or four food vendors, one center stage with a few rusted metal chairs, and eight or nine vendors selling their wares on the streets, comprised the event.

The reality of today’s economy was on full display in that town.  The chairs in the barbershop were long gone and the plaster was falling off the walls.  The candy shop across the street was long gone as well.  The plate glass was dingy from the neglect of vacancy.

The fountain in the downtown square had water flowing, but it was in dire need of TLC.  In a two-block radius were four banks that seemed to thrive – I wondered if their prosperity came at the expense of foreclosure.  In that picturesque downtown community, many of the buildings had monoliths of architecture from the 1800s, but many of the second and third story windows were boarded-up.

A U.S. Congressman from Indiana’s sixth District had an office amidst those vacant buildings and the despair plaguing that town.  His office was vibrant, well-maintained, and as I peered through the front window, I was taken aback by the interior decor.  The walls were littered with images of him.

It was obvious those in Washington, D.C. are prospering, those in the heartland are not.

Then we drove toward Cincinnati, Ohio to get a bite to eat.  We stopped at a restaurant noted for their chili.  The restaurant was busy.  Obviously, their business model was working.

However, on the way back we stopped at an outdoor flea market in Harrison, Ohio – we have a taste for antiques.  The signs at the facility entrance were worn with age.  A small building stood erect at the entrance to the grounds, yet it was vacant.  A sign posted in its window said: “Free Admission.”  Another said: “Vendors Needed – $12.50 a day.” One could tell events held there were once noteworthy, but the economy had taken its toll and the vendors that day numbered less than a dozen.

Later that night, I watched the television program 60 Minutes.  The show featured two stories.  One was about how the stock market is rigged, and money is being siphoned off by ruthless speculators and there’s nothing illegal about it.

Another was focused on the Appalachia region where the poor live who can’t afford Obamacare.  Throughout that whole piece it jumped off the screen at me that the government was doing nothing to help those people.

Private citizens were driving around in their RV to help those people with their healthcare.  Those kind Samaritans, two women, RN’s, were able to do so by donations from churches and pharmaceutical companies who donated drugs to their cause.

In another segment of that same piece, the poor were going to a ministry food pantry where they could get the essentials for life free of charge.

Throughout that story, I saw detrimental regulatory roadblocks standing in the way.  It was the private sector, caring people, who were making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate – not the government.

Instead of solely heralding the efforts of those volunteers, the commentator, Scott Pelley, made it a point to say many governors weren’t willing to set up exchanges for Obamacare because they felt, in the long run, it would bankrupt their state.  Scott also made it a point to say, at the end of the piece, the Democratic governor of Virginia was willing to set up an Obamacare exchange, but the Republican controlled House in that state was blocking his efforts.

Mr. Pelley didn’t need to inject that dart at the end.  It would’ve been fine without that derogatory comment, but the motives of a liberal media are just too much for them to resist.

The polling for today’s politicians, both parties, is in the cellar because Americans are fed up.  We’re told the economy is on the rebound, but a little field trip like ours dispels that as proof of propaganda and the hogwash it truly is.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

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