Without An Asking Price

(D)uring most of the history of our state, our rural landscapes and our rural communities have been in bondage to an economic colonialism that has exploited and misused both land and people.  This exploitation has tended to become more severe with the growth of industrial technology.  It has been most severe and obvious in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky, but it has been felt and has produced dire effects everywhere.  With few exceptions our country people, generation after generation, have been providers of cheap fuels and raw materials to be used or manufactured in other places and to the profit of other people.  They have added no value to what they have produced, and they have gone onto the markets without protection.  They have sold their labor, their mineral rights, their crops, their livestock, and their trees with the understanding that the offered price was the price they must take….(R)ural Kentuckians have generally been a people without an asking price.  We have developed the psychology of a subject people, willing to take whatever we have been offered and to believe whatever we have been told by our self-designated “superiors.”

Wendell Berry
From “Conserving Forest Economies” (1994)