They get preferential treatment, yes. They're getting screwed, yes. The ways they are getting screwed are not things they will consent to let the government fix. https://t.co/KeNyKKrMEX
— chatham harrison is tending his garden (@chathamharrison) January 27, 2023
I mean, how are we supposed to fix "rural areas are unproductive, the potentially productive people are all leaving if they can, & the remaining rural people will vote for whoever will promise to make this stop being true"? Some kind of enlightened hukou? Just lie our butts off?
— chatham harrison is tending his garden (@chathamharrison) January 27, 2023
Here’s Krugman’s article (gift link):
… This week my colleague Thomas B. Edsall surveyed research on the rural Republican shift. I was struck by his summary of work by Katherine J. Cramer, who attributes rural resentment to perceptions that rural areas are ignored by policymakers, don’t get their fair share of resources and are disrespected by “city folks.”
As it happens, all three perceptions are largely wrong. I’m sure that my saying this will generate a tidal wave of hate mail, and lecturing rural Americans about policy reality isn’t going to move their votes. Nonetheless, it’s important to get our facts straight.
The truth is that ever since the New Deal rural America has received special treatment from policymakers. It’s not just farm subsidies, which ballooned under Donald Trump to the point where they accounted for around 40 percent of total farm income. Rural America also benefits from special programs that support housing, utilities and business in general.
In terms of resources, major federal programs disproportionately benefit rural areas, in part because such areas have a disproportionate number of seniors receiving Social Security and Medicare. But even means-tested programs — programs that Republicans often disparage as “welfare” — tilt rural. Notably, at this point rural Americans are more likely than urban Americans to be on Medicaid and receive food stamps.
And because rural America is poorer than urban America, it pays much less per person in federal taxes, so in practice major metropolitan areas hugely subsidize the countryside. These subsidies don’t just support incomes; they support economies: Government and the so-called health care and social assistance sector each employ more people in rural America than agriculture, and what do you think pays for those jobs?…
So the ostensible justifications for rural resentment don’t withstand scrutiny — but that doesn’t mean things are fine. A changing economy has increasingly favored metropolitan areas with large college-educated work forces over small towns. The rural working-age population has been declining, leaving seniors behind. Rural men in their prime working years are much more likely than their metropolitan counterparts to not be working. Rural woes are real.
Ironically, however, the policy agenda of the party most rural voters support would make things even worse, slashing the safety-net programs these voters depend on. And Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to point this out…
The clash between ‘virtuous, self-reliant farmers’ and ‘greedy, rootless city folk’ is (probably) as old as the invention of cities. (Economist and farm boy John Kenneth Galbraith had some wonderful quips about the rigors of rural existence driving its more self-aware inheritors away.) But the myth of the Sturdy Independent Sons of the Soil (as understood by the Virginia planters who wrote the Constitution) is foundational to the American story. Cities are where rebellious
slaves tenants, uppity women, and offspring with scandalous ambitions seek the company of filthy immigrants and God-mocking intellectuals; a tendency towards ‘respect for tradition’ and ‘bearing with the troubles God gives you’ has been a self-selection tool for generations. Not sure how this can cured — especially when the Greedy Old Party deliberately uses it as an electoral weapon…
not gonna pretend to be the literacy whisperer but if you work in media you should have better reading skills than this, klippy https://t.co/fkEcB5m9XE
— GOLIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) January 27, 2023
not every rural american is an inbred dumbass hick and rural america has a lot of difficult challenges that are hard to solve, but pretending that they’re all socialists waiting to be activated rather than *actively participants in making their own lives harder* helps no one
— GOLIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) January 27, 2023
and in any case, the screenshots klippy posts do not even make the argument he says they’re making (and krugman’s full column flat out refutes the argument)
— GOLIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) January 27, 2023
… Which doesn’t prevent the Defiant Socialists from getting things precisely backward, of course:
"Incentivizing" rural people to move to cities is rooted in racism and classism. YIMBYs have to reckon with this.
— sid ???? (@lilbabygandhi) January 28, 2023
Letting poor people move to places with economic opportunity is good, actually
— Zugzwang (@BackandCall) January 28, 2023
Compared to most rural communities? This is false. All statistical evidence shows cities are being more efficient and economically beneficial. Also coming from a small town to where I live… couldn’t dream of this standard of living.
— M (@Wit_Incarnate) January 28, 2023
You do realize you're arguing the same point: we should lower the cost of living to make cities more accessible.
— elon musk (e-bike variant) (official) (@kjprice) January 28, 2023
Will expansion of rural broadband connectivity smooth the edges of rustical agita and prove a socially more cohesive boon? Stay tuned.
The future of the GOP depends on a huge army of rural agro-bots fueled by the blood and flesh of immigrants and POC achieving the right to vote.
Yes, I’ve had a drink or two. Why would you ask?
I am pissed that the rural people across my state, TN, and in Nashville, the capital, take every chance they get to put cities in their place. TN recently announced that it will not accept money from the CDC to prevent AIDS. Yes, we are turning down free money to own the libs. Some of the money went to Planned Parenthood here in Memphis and supposedly some went to a place that did gender reassignment surgery on kids (shocker! Not true). One of the places that has a high HIV transmission rate? Memphis.
So yeah, rural areas may be screwed, but they are doing their damndest to take us all down with them. No sympathy.
Open thread FYI.
What are you talking about? They have both sparrows AND curtain rods!
Eat your hearts out in your empty boxes, you filthy libs;)
I am getting old enough to start planning my retirement in a rural areal near the mediterranean (I have been living and working in the EU, and my savings and public pension income will be in EUR).
The same dynamic applies here, if not more so. The countryside is increasingly depopulated, whether you look at Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, or Greece. What is left is supported by agricultural subsidies, national and EU-directed development schemes, hospitals, and bourgie retirees and foreigners settling in the equivalent of the sunbelt.
I suppose it is natural for people to resent those taking advantage of their economic decline. What is weird about American politics is that, while in steeper economic, social, and demographic decline the political movements of the rural areas are more ever greedy, entitled, resentful, and bitter. Few rural Americans dislike New York with the intensity of sentiment that a rural mec in Provence feels for Parisians, but aside from the occasional yellow-vest riot you do not see the same apocalyptic rage and self destructive mentality you get in the manufactured cultural reaction in the US.
As someone with half a life’s career working in rural development, I can vouch for all of this being true. VERY true.
Rural areas are a massive center for the absorption of federal funds:
and most of the funds go towards massively harmful projects like rural highways to promote semi-rural sprawl;
USDA water and sewer grants to build infrastructure for semi-rural sprawl, and then to fix those systems every 15-20-30 years since rural people refuse to pay to keep up their own water and sewer systems;
ag subsidies to promote massively unhealthful commodity crops that not only turn people into pasty, disease-riddled balloons, but also ruin the environment with industrial chemicals that have decimated insect life and birds, destroyed entire ecosystems, and polluted agricultural runoff that has devastated US waters — rivers as well as oceans, bays, and gulfs;
and created a massive class of entitled rednecks by enabling tens of millions of people to opt-in to a pretense “rural lifestyle” that they don’t derive any real benefit or create any productive work from.
Those people then use their constitutionally entitled disproportional rural electoral privilege to elect idiots exactly like themselves to the US Senate,
where they impose their ignorance, selfishness, and totemist worship of pretense-rural signifiers,
like pride in primitively patriarchal religion, pride in ignorance, and pride in resource-extraction-based economy, on the rest of us.
@Xenos: Yeah I’ve read about houses in rural Italy being sold for almost nothing. Enjoy the planning, sounds fun!
Too, stores such as Walmart must be assigned part of the blame for the acceleration of rural hamlet civic decline.
hells littlest angel
Until recently, I was a city dweller all my life. Now I’m out in the sticks, which I like despite its cultural and infrastructural deficiencies. But areas like this couldn’t survive without massive infusions of tax dollars. There are two kinds of jobs here — making deliveries, and lesser-skilled health care work.
Major Major’s father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a long-limbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major’s father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain that the chores would not be done. He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” he counseled one and all, and everyone said, “Amen.” — Joseph Heller, Catch-22
We’ll keep trying to help rural areas because
But we shouldn’t feel guilty about them if they reject our help because of their politics.
The GOP could be a party that hates gays and abortion and loves guns, while still improving the lives of rural Americans by working with Dems on those sorts of issues. But that doesn’t happen, and the GOP pays no price for it.
9: I lived in rural Tennessee both immediately before and immediately after Wal-Mart’s arrival in the county seat in the late 1980s. Oh my goodness was it an improvement on what had been available before. Before, there was very little retail to speak of, and what there was seemed stuck in the 1940s or maybe earlier. It’s no wonder people spoke so positively about Mr. Sam.
Nothing enrages rural conservatives more than telling them they are not the completely self-made heroes of this story and are in any way to blame for their own problems. Why do you think they are not merely ignorant, but deliberately and savagely anti-facts? Because facts say they’re wrong about most of the beliefs they hold most dear. It’s true that Democrats should tell the truth, but don’t expect rural voters to reward it. They will only hate us more.
The self selection process going on where a lot of people are not venturing more than 50 miles from their birthplace. Except to meet at the local Wal-Mart. Because it’s the only place to shop.
Ironically, they could sit at home and have the whole world brought to them. And they won’t look at it.
And if we’re going to have battling mythologies, there is no more American a tale than a bright and ambitious young person leaving their little town behind.
Because they can’t have any dreams in that little town. They would forever be who they were when born.
Case in point. Which party is trying to cut these programs, and which party is trying to save them?
ETA: I see Krugman covered this.
This whole discussion would be much easier if we said out loud what the rural communities want: genocide the cities.
See, they don’t want the culture of cities, but cities force the economics of rural areas to function they way they do. They want to live in the country *and* not have to be subsidized because the cities have raised everyone’s cost of living so much. Sure, the cities have raised their own wages *more* so they come out ahead, but that’s the problem. Folks in the country can’t compete. And they don’t want to compete. But cities force them to compete against their will. Baumols cost disease strikes again, with the twist that many of the low productivity industries can now get automated, and effectively shift to cities. Those factory jobs that used to lift up rural towns are now a bunch of robots overseen by a smaller number of much more highly paid, more highly educated workers in cities. Los Angeles is the largest manufacturing region in the US – it’s close to ports, to freight airports, etc. Cheap land loses to good infrastructure and big universities to partner with. Every SpaceX engine, rocket and capsule was made about 2 miles from LAX.
Capitalists are woke.
@Martin: My sister lives right there in Hawthorne and the industry in her area is astounding.
@Martin: Except for the new multi-billion Ford plant that is being built about fifty miles outside Memphis. Ford is building a tech education center to build a workforce, even with that, I don’t see how it gets a trained workforce.
@Frankensteinbeck: Remember the freakout over “You did not build this”? Complete meltdown.
No, but it will give everyone faster access to the content of their self-chosen
silosonline communities. (Also porn.)
@Baud: Capitalism is woke.
And try to tell Appalachian towns that nothing anyone can do will bring coal mining back.
I think we could reach the young women which would also be funny because doing that would sort of CONFOUND all these pundits :)
We have the same issue here in Canada. I live in a “suburb” of Sarnia, Ontario right on the edge of rural SW Ontario. I worked with people (all men) who farmed in their off work hours. I learned to stop asking how their farms were doing because it turned into one long gripeathon about the weather, the government (every level and department you could think of), liberals, socialists, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, and us urban “moochers”. Long story short, they were doing very well, but not well enough to quit their highly paid Chemical Plant job.
There is a popular bumper sticker/yard sign that says “Farmers Feed Cities” that rural folk point to with pride around here. I made the mistake of observing aloud that farmers needed city folk as much or more than the other way around, they would just never admit it. That did not go well.
There is an anger that is (IMO) impossible to counter, because the anger seems to be against the inexorable tide of history, and seeing their children, and their neighbours’ children leaving the farms for the cities.
I mostly love your comments Martin but this :
just isn’t true. Manufacturing is just booming in the rural rustbelt and wages are way up. Are there automated plants? Yes. But only for the simplest products (this one makes 2 liter pop bottles) and there is ONE in a three county area where I live and that’s been true for a decade- the rest are traditional. They changed manufacuring in many ways, but “automating everything” was not how they did it. Telling them they have no work (not true) and no chance to make what it is a lower middle class wage where they live (also not true- housing and child care costs are lower where they live so lower middle class wages are lower) doesn’t help them at all.
Biden can’t tell the truth about this for political reasons – both the Left and Right will screech- but that is the truth. They DO have opportunity where they live. They are not taking it. Hell, OBAMA invested a ton in them and that was 10 years ago.
I’d also mention that “why they stay” is not all because they’re “tied to the land” or whatever nonsense Edsal is spouting today. They stay because they have extended families and social networks and having an extended family is an ECONOMIC benefit. Child care, passed down housing or shared housing and property, borrow a car in a pinch, get a job through a cousin or because you have a last name that is common in the county and has been a last name there for a hundred and fifty years, and on and on. They don’t want to be strangers somewhere because that’s a really precarious place to be if you make 45k a year- a stranger. A lot of why they stay makes sense for middle and lower income people.
So it is with many Republican factions, especially the olds.
That sounds like all the reasons there was no black migration from the south to northern cities. Oh, wait.
I don’t know what’s wrong with the young men, although I agree something is wrong and I say that not in a judgmental way but because they really are struggling and so much of it seems to be them gettting in their own way. It’s very frustrating to watch. But IMO and experience the young women are more (socially) liberal and also more practical about things like Medicaid that covers their children, Pell grants, public school programs, etc. so I consider them reachable and it bothers me that Dems don’t do a specific push there because I see it as this YEARNING after men because you know tHAT vote is more valuable. THAT vote is like the gold standard vote. Gross.
Next sign: Cities Pay Farmers.
But there was a white working class migration to cities in the Great Lakes region- they came from Appalachian states and regions to the upper midwest for better paying jobs. That’s how they ended up in MI and WI and the northern tier of Ohio and Indiana. What they did was change the electorate and make the northern tier midwest cities more religious (more Protestant because the white immigrants coming for the same jobs were Catholic) and more conservative politically.
There’s really three distinct groups of white people in the Great Lakes rustbelt :)
@Kay: Thank you for saying that. My family has spread across the country, and everyone is on their own. My husband’s family has stayed put for generations, and their family network is a huge advantage for the young parents.
There was a “Hillbilly Highway”- two routes they traveled and if you know about it you can still tell where they came from in this migration because they have different – distinct- last names than the white people who were already there.
Moving is hard and you only do it when you are desperate.
So blame whatever safety net is now in the rural areas for slowing migration away. Tell them they find it too easy to lay back and take government money rather than move and find a real job.
( a la 2020 right wing arguments against pandemic payments)
Oh, it’s huge. Take away childcare costs and add a special family deal on a starter house and two incomes totaling 90k starts to look middle class. They’d be crazy to move. They’ll drown.
I just think liberals should give this more thought than they are because while there was a huge migration of AA’s to cities there is also a huge group of rural AA in southern states who are Democrats.
Just like we ignore AA working class people we also ignore AA rural people, but the fact that they are there complicates this easy slicing up of the country. A lot of moving parts. People going hither and yon but always a big group staying.
@Kay: My very well off part of the family does that with cars. Anyone need a new car? Doesn’t Janet want a new car? So the old car goes to one of her kids or grandkids. Same with brothers, sisters, etc. I have never asked, but I doubt any money changes hands.
At Thanksgiving it was amazing, everyone in the family had changed cars for one reason or another.
@Kay: There also a lot of Hispanics and Natives living in the rural areas of the Southwest.
It’s becoming far more than economics.
Now red states want to hold half their population hostage with their health care. The radiology precaution of “7 to 70” will prevail and any health care can make doctors reluctant to treat anyone they can so easily be ruined for.
Reach the young women in these red states? Yes. I think they are on alert already.
I will say this- better educated or ambitious women in these places are not the problem and immigrants are not the problem and black and/or Latino people are not the problem and as long as the Right and fundamentalist religous leaders tell white working class young men that they ARE the problem their young men will continue to sink.
I don’t think people are a problem to be solved so I wouldn’t accept that the young men are “the problem” either but this looking to others to blame and the resentment and the REALLY grim outlooks these young men hold are just fucking poison. Right wing celebrities are harming young white men. All this bullshit they sell them – seed oils are bad or Bill Gates wants you to take SSRIs, or manly workouts or antiwoke or antivaxx or Right wing stars like the sex trafficker who just got picked up are NOT HELPING.
What they probably need are normal conservative men who aren’t hateful nutjobs since in my view most of the white men are staying fairly conservative (sorry Bernie- they’re not frustrated Socialists) , but Right wingers went insane so they’re not getting that. Look at their role models! HORRIBLE.
Farm subsidies attracted a lot of resentment during the Trump administrstion, especially because of the many billions sent to soybean farmers hurt by his trade war with China.
These billions did not neccesarily go to rural people, though. Some went to investors in LLCs who might be living far from the farms. A breakdown of the addresses of individuals the checks went to showed plenty living in Minneapolis, San Francisco and other cities, or in gated golf communities.
Many of these people never see a tractor much less drive one. Only some of the absentee owners’ money trickles down to rural communities.
I do it too. My youngest son will get the car I have now and I bought the car from another son when he moved to Denmark. 12k miles! He lived in Chicago so rarely drove it and he’s one of the young uns who hated rural Ohio and went to college and never came back. All of my children have left. The one who stayed closest is in Toledo – he’s an industrial electrician and Toledo is a fine place to be if you’re one of them. He’s in the middle of a manufacturing belt that spans 4 states.
@catclub: The Black migrants from the south were not making the equivalent of 45k a year in the south at the time.
What does this mean?
The politics of the rural people referenced in the article can be summed up as:
“Thank you, sir. May I have another?”
It’s not just that they resent poor people of various ethnicities or creeds getting some of the same benefits as they themselves do. It’s that they also work hard to undermine those benefits by shoveling tax breaks to wealthy people who ACTUALLY don’t need them.
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio the joke I heard was that a Daytonian was a (Kentucky native) that ran out of gas on his way to Detroit.
Coming up on 4:30 in the a.m. Can says without fear of contradiction day 4 of chill and rain is well and truly underway. Now with more wind!
They’re still not the managerial/small business owner class here. Stuck. No upward mobility. The managers are still descended from the first landowners OR the later immigrants from Ireland, Eastern Europe, etc, and later, Latinos (small business). They’ve been stuck for several generations now and others have just leapfrogged over them.
I do think they’re tempermentally and ideologically conservative though, so there won’t be any “winning” them. Democrats help them and get no political benefit from doing so and that’s just how it is. But there’s an opening with the young women- maybe if young women were valued more as voters a CERTAIN political Party would look into that :)
One of the reasons they were recruited to work up north was because they were anti-union, and (later) European immigrants were pro-union. They’re just not liberals.
I first ran across Tom Nichols when he was writing about ‘The Lost Boys’ — young domestic terrorists looking for a cause to give their aimless lives meaning. Nichols thought that younger men used to look up to the older men in their families / communities as role models, but some of the toxic side effects of progress meant that too many male adolescents had no fathers / uncles / male teachers / church leaders they could trust. So they were (are) easy prey for charlatans & grifters who promise a SOLUTION, for low easy down payments.
And while it was easy to dismiss Nichols as just another reactionary bitching about Kids These Days (not to mention Uppity Women, also that Hippity-Hop Music)… the man was not so far gone that he couldn’t change. He’s still a conservative, but now he’s a registered Democrat, who doesn’t go easy on his former Repub colleagues.
Much as I hate to admit it, we probably need more Tom Nichols, and certainly fewer Andrew Tates. Sometimes I imagine a world where, for instance, evolved Tough Guys like our own blogmaster run the community’s young men through some kind of service-training initiation where they can be taught to pull up their socks and take some responsibility for their actions. Because you’re right, there’s too many young men just aren’t doing well, for themselves much less their neighbors!
Doing something to help rural areas is really complicated, because what has caused that decline is itself so complicated. I’ve watched several rural areas decline during the past 60 years, and I can see no easy way that decline could have been eliminated. Anecdote: My nephew farms in Iowa; he can’t find good help. The Reagan farm depression of the 1980s destroyed so many family farms that young people have none of the skills modern farm help requires. He also requires his help to have commercial driver’s licenses to truck grain, but drug use is so rampant in Iowa that even likely job candidates can’t pass the required CDL drug test.
Here’s a piece I just did on the changes in the ag sector during the past 60 years or so that illustrates what happened. The Biden administration has hopes the Inflation Reduction Act provisions will help rural areas and so do I. But the issue is so complicated, I have no idea whether any of it will have any major long-term help, even with all the smart people Joe’s got working on the problem…
Does it ever occur to anyone that some of us just don’t want to live in cities? Lots of stereotyping in the comments here.
@Kay: Lots of Appalachians here in southwest Ohio too. We used to have scads of auto and other manufacturing plants, and are close enough for a reasonable drive back home for a long weekend.
@opiejeanne: The precautionary lead apron is applied with a wide margin of error. Thus, the age range.
Because age and appearance does not give any clues to possible pregnancy. Every doctor knows this in some way.
I asked how they’d make the same money with multiple rural distributions instead of one urban one. That reframing was not helpful. I don’t know what breaks that self-reliant mindset.
@Ohio Mom: I will add that there are ambitious Appalachians in my area who assimilated out. They went to college, got professional jobs, and cut their ties.
They may say, my great-grandparents lived in Kentucky but they themselves do not identify as Appalachian. They have no nostalgia.
The community-organizer types here who tried creating an Appalachian version of the Urban League faltered because they didn’t have enough middle and upper middle class people with mountain roots who wanted to claim their background and led a hand up up to their brethren who were still floundering. And boy, do they continue to flounder.
@WereBear: thanks. I tried to google it but couldn’t identify a rational answer.
Them GOP’s and democrats
Each hates the other one
They’s always criticizing
How the country should be run
But neither tell the public
What the others gone and done
As long as no one knows
Where no one stands
The country’s in the very best of hands
Best of hands? My foot. :)
Folks forget that they heyday of the American family farm was probably in the 1950s and 60s when government price supports and subsidy programs were at their most robust. Farmers were paid a good price for their products and that supported employment and healthy communities. Starting in the 80’s, a lot of that was dismantled and focus shifted to encouraging commodity crop production for export markets and supporting low consumer, rather than sustainable producer, prices. That was accelerated with the emergence of massive grocery and warehouse chains (Walmart, e.g.) who could push prices down further.
So rural America, as so many other sectors of our society, is basically a victim of Reagan-era deregulation and corporate capitalism.
I read that as the nutbelt :) at first.
Interesting thread, and a lot of good comments.
Yes. Go for the women to expand the coalition, first. There’s a reason biology has chosen them to carry children — higher adaptability and better survival instincts; also (often) the ability to work together.
I don’t understand why “white male” is the go to image for “working class.” I guess these reporters and writers don’t live in the world the rest of us do?? Which is remarkable, because a lot hail from the dreaded Big City. Or at least suburbs.
Jeebus help us. Not “at this point” – this has been the case since the late 80’s at least. White flight isn’t mentioned in the quotes above, but it was a huge influence on the acceleration of rural poverty post WWII. All the farmland ringing municipalities was gobbled up by real estate developers as farmers retired. They were converted to White bedroom communities and malls. Small businesses were decimated as giant retail chains and big box stores moved out of cities to take advantage of tax abatements. Cost of living skyrocketed for everyone. The first to get hit with a lower standard of living were the families already living in these communities that were already struggling. Less relief dollars and services to go around as the White flighters continued to move further and further out. Rising property taxes meant keeping farms going was harder and harder to do. So locals had to commute further and further to get something better than minimum wage retail jobs. Everyone talks about housing costs but the real killer was rising commuting costs – cars and fuel. You can’t be a one car family if you live in the middle of nowhere and both your parents have to work in the city. Everything the middle class White flighters were told about their new homogenous nirvanas turned out to be a lie. You still had to drive into the city to get a living wage and pay income tax there. Property taxes soared as suburban areas struggled to create out of whole cloth the services that already existed in abundance in municipalities. Nothing to do and no money to do it with. And decades of hate radio fueled their rage and gave them a target to take their frustration out on.
@Kay: Sounds like you’re familiar with Ruby Payne.
Aren’t Black Americans also moving back to the South as they retire? There’s plenty of writing about this reverse migration; what’s your opinion?
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
@Frankensteinbeck: The thing is my mom grew up in PA coal mining country, born in 1944 or 45, and growing up nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted to work in the mines. It was the job of last resort. If the residents of Appalachia ever got those jobs to come back they’d hate them. I can’t figure out why they latched onto that miserable occupation as a culture identity touchstone other than their reflex to own the libs by championing the dirtiest industry out there.
But I guaran-dan-tee the people pining for the mines to come back never actually worked in them. They’d make it about a half day down there and go back to whatever they were doing before, even if that was nothing.
@eclare: Yeah, when we bought ‘new’ cars we sold the old ones to a niece and a nephew for about 15% under market value. Easy transaction for us, good deal for them.
Republican economic policies are a big, stiff boot in their nads, year after year, and their conclusion is that the problem is that the libs are preventing them from using steel-toed boots.
The Paul Krugman column had over 4,300 reader comments. Definitely check some of them out. You can sort by “Reader Picks.” (And then randomly check through Newest/Oldest, as you prefer.)
@Butch: Yes, there are a number of people who I know who have moved to the country just to get some space, and get away from people. I feel the same way a lot of times, but am now too old to consider this option.
I don’t call living in a suburb the same as living in a city, but I am sure a lot of people don’t see any difference.
As someone whose mental health struggles have placed me, jobs wise, in a very different track from the one I was originally educated for, the whole “go to college so you can get a good job” was incredibly alienating. The people who did go to college, but weren’t talented or connected enough to break into journalism or the other fields they studied for, often ended up deeply bitter and blaming affirmative action for their plight, rather than the nepo babies. And the people who didn’t go to college, either because of lack of grades or money, saw it as giving permission to corporations to make non college jobs miserable and pay below living wages. This is what the anger with the Democrats over student loans is about (both the loan havers and those resentful of them).
Patrick Wyman’s writing about the American Gentry, the rural elite with generational wealth, is also important to understanding these problems. It’s the farm owners and car dealers. The good ole boys.
@Kay: I taught in a rural school for 25 years, and IMO you’re spot-on. The real drag was among angry young men (many of whose families were doing quite well financially but did not feel respected) and the young women who could not imagine leaving home and were willing to settle for an angry young man. Most of those marriages will end in less than 10 years as the Yong woman realizes she wants more out of life and the guy stays surly.
There are other subsets (the Twitch watchers who think they’ll become video game superstars from their couch, for exmple), but they’re miniscule compared to that main group.
J R in WV
When the coal (copper ore, gold, iron, gypsum…) is gone, the mines close and the towns disappear pretty soon after that. But you can’t explain that to a young man who wants to work in the mines…
@Butch: Yup. It’s almost as though that tendency is a universal trait not confined to one ideology.
@artem1s: Suburban ain’t rural.
You know, it would help if our society would value the people who grow our food more than the people who give us social media trinkets, for example.
It’s worse than that, I fear. They do have older male relatives- the male relatives are just also bitter and resentful and not good role models.
Look at what happened to Boy Scouts. Conservatives turned it into a culture war battlefield. It’s crazy Right wing here now and also crazy fundie religious. They ruined Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts is fine.
Interestingly to me, perhaps because I was part of it and 3 of my 4 kids were in it, is 4H has not been politicized and ruined. I wonder if it’s because 4H is almost nuttily democratic- they vote on everything. The meetings take like 4 hours because 3rd graders are laboriously and slowly filling out ballots.
FFA, in contrast, is Wingnut Central. Ruined.
@Feathers: Yeah, in my community the scions of the founder of a regional grocery chain just got an excellent basketball coach cashiered because their child wouldn’t be a starter if he returned.
Small example, but that’s the kind of weight you’re talking about, and prevalent and insidious.
@Betsy: All true, but the resonant part for me is the the pretense. Sure, you claim to be, and fancy yourselves sons and daughters of the soil, with your pickups, firearms, and $19000 side by side ATVs, most of you, but you’re not one, nor even close: The web of sustenance my rural town would not exist without is 100% externally driven. Disruption in county, state and federal supports, never mind retail grocers, fuel suppliers, and virtually any decent-standard-of-living employment would absolutely crater this very fragile ecology in weeks, not years. The deep ore mining that was the backbone of this region is gone, never to return, 60 years ago. The minimum security prison closed six months ago. taking 200 jobs out with it; the next-town-over paper mill sold to a Euro conglomerate last year and its survival is dictated by global markets, not regional or even national ones; the sole remaining large scale employer is funded by state grants via the Office For People With Developmental Disabilities.
Last week, Cornell University released a study showing that fully half of New York residents do not earn a living wage, So, then, how do they live, since there have been no reports of Joadian exodus or mass die-off in the New York Times? Simple answer: state subsidy. Tax rebate, SS, Medicare and Medicaid, wealth transfer from the powerhouse of the hated NYC. So goes here, so goes the sate of rural America.
I read Nichols too and he’s fine but conservative men, in general, are not helping. Andrew Sullivan has this almost knee jerk reaction anytime any conservative fear campaign is launched where he blames liberals. This is a mindset and it isn’t limited to 22 year olds with 600 dollars a month truck payments. It’s rampant among their “thought leaders” too. These are their goddamned boys who are drowning. They need to look at how they’re raising them.
@Kay: You are so, so good at this. I’ve been reading your material for years, and even just your quotidian comments on threads are bitingly insightful.
How can we put you in a policy making position? Is there any way you can be an advisor to somebody whose decisions move mountains?
@Butch: The issue is that “choices” and “preferences” are largely shaped by subsidies. So someone who “chooses” to live a rural “lifestyle” is most often massively subsidized by those who don’t.
And that choice comes with environmental costs, economic costs, social costs imposed on others.
It’s not like choosing a favorite color.
@Betsy: I’m in the Kay fan club too.
Ohio’s loss will be Michigan’s gain. And that could be a blogpost right there: the attractional appeal of Michigan, which is trending blue, vs. the repellant culture of Oh – High – Yo.
I see the parents and although I don’t agree with the parents politically (most of them aren’t crazy political or even voters) and they’re just heartbroken over these boys. I come to it as a parent.
@dave319: Just so! Very interesting.
Have you ever heard of the Boers? They were a similarly fundamentalist Protestant group that simply LOVED their own suffering. Their guns, their dawgs, their wimmen, their hard scrabble farmsteads, their sense of persecution-as-destiny, their pinched and flinty religion, their ethnic hate.
A LOT of this comes from Calvinism.
@apocalipstick: feeling this. One of the scions here didn’t get the grade she wanted at the local community college so she got daddy to have our best history professor fired.
The college president is a brown-nosing little shill masquerading as a liberal artsy person when he feels like being “worldly,” but he has to please the local rich ignorant landed morons, and he’s been looking for an excuse to get rid of our loudmouth liberal excellent history professor for years.
Complete cowardice. This is how rural areas lose good people and stay fucked.
Haven’t read the links, but this is perfect for all the blind elephant inspectors to give their hot takes. Here’s mine:
It’s a systemic problem. Yes, it’s the old – as – time story of people leaving for the opportunity in the big city, but we need food and small businesses and small industry and the innovation that can happen in small farms and small towns. Our choices in government (trade and tax policies, etc.) affect what happens.
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
I have a cousin who grew up in Shaker Heights (tony suburb of Cleveland) but has now spent more than half his life living in the State College, PA area. He teaches at Penn State (not tenure track but not full on adjust either – he gets these rolling 5 year contacts with full benefits so he does alright). He has a PhD in economics, but you tell him his small town rural area is subsidized by cities and he’s resistant to believing it. And this is a guy whose educated enough to find out the truth for himself. People in rural areas think the fact that they have good well paved roads, electricity, etc. is just the natural order of things, not that people in urban areas paying most of higher electric utility rates, gas taxes etc. is the only reason they aren’t still lighting their homes with lamp oil and driving on dirt roads.
My cousin does vote the right way though he is somewhat Republican sympathetic. He does have a good perspective on small town rural attitudes because he discovered while in grad school that he really liked working on cars and started moonlighting as an auto mechanic a couple days a week.
One challenge democrats face in rural areas is that every working person (like his fellow mechanics) has a deadbeat family member – a brother, cousin etc. on public assistance of some kind. They resent that person because they have to show up and work while that person lives on handouts, and in their minds the Democrats are solely blamed for those handouts. And there are, in their minds, millions of other deadbeats in the cities just like the cousin or whoever and they’re paying for it all because they’re working and paying taxes.
I tell you what…if Dems can ever find an effective counter-narrative that resonates with these guys – if we can somehow not be first and foremost the party that supports the deadbeat cousin, I feel like maybe we have a shot at making gains amongst these guys. Maybe I’m being naive but it couldn’t hurt.
@Kay: I hope you’re right that the young women could be reached. Most of them here are trained to decorate themselves and pose nicely for photos, etc.
What’s INSIDE their heads never seems to matter like what is on the outside of them.
@different-church-lady: Nope. Which people who grow our food? The farm laborers? Or the people owning the land who are basically running a grift based on subsidies and land based tax exemptions? Sarah Taber writes about this. We demand “respect” for farmers, but they are destroying the land and not producing the crops we need. Meanwhile, people not born into farm families, who would love to do the job and would be excellent at it, are excluded due to the feudal nature of the American farm system.
@Kay: It’s on the Blue side of the ledger as well. So many studies on how having daughters makes men more liberal. Haven’t heard anything about how having sons pulls women back into being foot soldiers for the patriarchy, even though I’ve seen in so many times in my own life.
@Betsy: There is a lot of material on the Boers in James Michener’s The Covenant. It’s a novel about South Africa, and as he typically does, Michener starts out in prehistoric times. The Boers show up about a quarter way through the book, and Michener takes the story right on up to the 1970s.
@Doug: yes. A lot of rural areas did not have any retail before Walmart or dollar store for them to kill and what they had was not good and not cheap. Some good stores did go under, but also there are reasons people really needed cheaper goods.
Many, many people stayed behind, You can still see the old Black Belt in demographic maps. And there’s been a certain amount of reverse Great Migration to the metro areas within it.
@sab: Heck, it’s why we live in the northern hinterlands of the Boston area instead of closer in to the city, which would be advantageous for me in many ways. Real estate’s cheaper out here, but mostly we moved here to be closer to my wife’s extended family, and that network has all sorts of advantages.
This may be an assumption, but somehow I think you don’t spend a lot of time out here in the rural areas talking to people.
As RAM notes in his article, Earl Butz of the Nixon administration really started us on that road.
@What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?: I once pointed out to someone whining about Social Security that the reason we pay for Social Security isn’t about your retirement portfolio, it’s so that your mother-in-law doesn’t have to come live with you. I could actually see that sink in.
On the cousins – there was a study looking at Mormons and Orthodox Jews who provided welfare through religious systems rather than the government. What they found was that even in these conservative, strong family ties and values communities, about 5% of the adult population could not support themselves and relied on the charitable support systems of their co-religionists. Workhouses and such were run by the churches. Tell them that there has always been a social welfare system, it just used to come out of the tithes, rather than taxes. Even in the lord of the manor days, the money was coming out of taxes. Asking if they’d like these cousins to move in tomorrow may also help.
@Geminid: People talk about the decline of history education, but I think that also misses how much of it there was in Michener type “dad books.” Also all of the lives of great men movies. So much dismissal of them as middle-brow, but what’s replaced them is far worse.
I’m sure I’m late to this thread. But I’ve lived in many rural areas over the years and have half my big extended family living in rural OR, PA, and MI.
What a lot of analysts don’t completely understand is that rural areas are very class stratified. Even more so than in urban areas, the rural elites really control all the levers of power. Everything from the school boards to county commissioners to local statehouse representatives. And these rural elites DO NOT WANT CHANGE. Especially any change that brings in new people. They tend to be aging big landowners, wealthy retirees, the occasional professional living out on the fringe, etc. What they don’t really need or want are things like new affordable housing subdivisions, new industry that they won’t profit from or control, more tax dollars going to education (their kids are long gone) etc.
And the rural underclass who might actually want all those things? The lack power and tend to be apathetic. The smart younger ones mostly left leaving the most apathetic younger ones behind.
So while there are lots of policies that might benefit the rural underclass, single moms, struggling families, etc. They tend not to benefit the rural elites and might well threaten their position and power. That is why you see so much resistance to progressive policies in many rural areas. It means change and that is opposed by those on the top who run such places.
@Kay: Boys are told from very early on that there was this magical time where Men Ruled and were Kings of Their Castles etc., but all that is being threatened Feminists, Socialism, LGBTQ Rights and CRT. The names and details have changed but it’s still the dominant narrative that boys have been hearing from all over our society for decades and one that is really easy to get sucked into believing in this and adopting a sense of entitlement, resentment and victim fantasy. I grew up hearing it from Rush Limbaugh, Morton Downey Jr. etc. Nowadays they have Joe Rogan, the Alt-Right and 4chan. I got lucky that a couple Feminist girlfriends and friends shook me out of it. But it’s a very hard mentality to abandon when there are so many people, orgs and a whole political party willing to feed you copious amounts of this drug. It’s always been tied to rural, Christian, Hetero, and most importantly WHITE-ness. Had I not been an atheist living in Los Angeles, who knows if I ever would have. But I don’t know that there’s any policy arguments that can get boys away from it. I think exposure to Feminism (before they get brainwashed to see it as evil) and guided by someone who believes it is a positive thing, is about the best remedy, but how on Earth we would ever be able to make that happen through govt/policy/schools seems damn-near impossible to me. I think a lot of the anti-CRT and anti-GenderTheory animus right now is a result of the fact that those things can actually threaten the mythology that conservatives need to keep boys dedicated to Patriarchy and believing that that is the only way they can succeed or have value.
What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?
@Feathers: Most of the RWNJs I know thoroughly approve on SS retirement benefits and Medicare. That deadbeat brother in law is probably living on SS disability benefits if he’s on more than food stamps and maybe they more than half suspect he’s scamming the system. So they have issues with unemployment benefits and maybe disability but not retirement benefits because they know those are coming to they themselves and they WORKED and PAID FOR those benefits.
Lots of great comments here on this thread. Thanks everyone.
I was lucky, I guess. I never got fed any of that crap by anyone who I looked up to or trusted.
But that’s the point, right? Many of them hate government social welfare systems specifically because it’s replacing the church.
@Omnes Omnibus: I got it mostly from friends (boys) and movies/tv, not explicitly from my family. But it was/is everywhere.
@UncleEbeneezer: Playing the violin and riding a school bus in middle school quickly teaches one that one’s age cohort is full of dipshits.
J R in WV
Where I grew up there was a saying, all you needed to learn enough to make it in life was Readin’ Ritin’ and Route 52 to Ohio. SW West Virginia and East KY,
It is still a heavily traveled route around holidays, people coming south to visit relatives and an old home place, or to hit the wooded forests, others headed north to visit cousins who families mover north years (or generations) ago.
I had an Aunt and Uncle and cousins move away to Ohio in the late 50s — they came back to her mother’s tiny farm every summer and the kids would stay at grandma’s for some weeks. All gone now, used tobacco, went young.
@J R in WV:
My middle son had a “migrated family” GF for a while. They would go to West Virginia and camp on her grandparents land so she could spend a week with relatives. It didn’t work out between them but her family was just tragic. So many premature deaths, incarceration, etc.
J R in WV
What does this mean?
I don’t know for sure but I would venture a guess that it refers to the age range within which female patients are guarded from stray radiation lest it damage their reproductive abilities. Wearing a lead apron at the dental x-ray for instance.
@Kent: Even later to this thread, but just from looking at the (not just rural – it’s officially a frontier) county where I live, I think you’re on to something with your analysis here.
I keep telling women this is much bigger than abortion and is about religious extremists pushing themselves into and controlling womens lives, and while women did get it to certain extent in the last election I don’t feel as if the threat to agency, autonomy and liberty is getting through. This is not fringe on the Right. Mace and Rubio are not fringe. They want to track and refer women to fundamentalist religious groups. They want womens health and lives to be controlled by Right wing religious tribunals.
J R in WV
That can be hard if you can’t/don’t click with the stayed home folks.
My cousins from Ohio were able to stay indoors, there were three bedrooms downstairs in the farmhouse, and a full house attic with a couple of really old double beds and trunks full of flour sack quilts if a cool spell set in. We loved being upstairs, even though it was hot in the evening, in the forested hills it cools off at night pretty reliably .
You mentioned two highway numbers together with the hillbilly migration… Route 52 is the one I’m most familiar with in that context, what are some other federal highways you’re familiar with in that migration story?
This is an effort to turn all of you into “tradwives” and if you think it is limited to “abortion” you are kidding yourself. I mean, Jesus Christ, they already have a TERM for the goal here. They want you locked down, locked in and with fewer options.
Can you fucking IMAGINE the screeching from media and conservatives if any liberal proposed this for real health care for women instead of what Rubio and Mace want, which is a referral to deceptive religious nuts dressed in scrubs to trick women? I could hear the caterwauling from rural Ohio. It would be 24/7 on CNN and the NYTimes would have 50 fucking “thinkpieces” explaining how liberals overreach.
But it’s womens liberty and autonomy and agency so it is being covered by a feminist writer with a blog. The big media orgs won’t pay anyone to cover it. Too unimportant.
@J R in WV: I don’t know which highways they used, but the boy who narrates John Grisham’s The Painted House ends up migrating with his family from a Mississippi cotton farm to Michigan. The narrative ends the day his family leaves his grandparents’ farm. A good novel.
@Kay: “White straight male” is still seen by most pundits as the “norm”, and thus more desirable to have the vote and support of. It used to be true but isn’t anymore, but they’re still wedded to that idea. I think it’s really that simple. You know the idea that the table of old guys in the diner could solve the world’s problems if only someone would listen to them? It’s that idea only larger. IMHO
@RAM: My parents farmed like yours, on an 80 acre farm along the Fox, just north of Sheridan, IL. I’m so glad you posted your article, because I was sitting here thinking of all the changes in farming and the area where I grew up.
That farm is now owned or leased by Fox Valley Winery. They grow grapes there.
The TV Series Yellowstone is a caricature of what I’m talking about but also quite accurate in the power dynamics. The Kevin Costner character who is the big landowning patriarch and who is standing up against all the libs from the cities who want to come change things in his idyllic little peace of heaven that he carved out of the wilderness with his bare hands? That is the model for a lot of rural elites. They are universally older white men who believe they carved out their wealth and position by their own bare hands and don’t want to see any of it changed. They are the ones who control rural politics with an iron fist in much of the country.
That is why we can’t have nice things in rural areas. Because Kevin Costner (the TV character) doesn’t want his view messed up and doesn’t want any riffraff moving in. Or God forbid, anyone like Mexicans.
And talk about memories. Rural IL small town of my dad’s family had people who’d bring up how the town started downhill “when they put in the Hard” meaning paved the roads. Not necessarily without merit, although you have to go past maybe four or so little places to get to the county seat. (And having the Hard sure helped with the rum running they managed during prohibition, so mixed blessing). But, having watched the town within my life turn down a serious grant to get them sewers and violently object to the Amish moving in (their buggies will ruin the roads! ), Amish who are currently running the only grocery store nearby . . . I will admit to being somewhat baffled as to how any interior or exterior force is going to stop the withering.
As someone who moved from the suburbs (really metro SoCal) to a rural area, everything seems spot on. For all that they value independence, as individuals the locals rally to help each other. They just don’t extend that desire to help outside their community, and don’t realize that much of the aid they scorn is just another expression of that desire to help on a governmental scale, and not even charity because they do pay some smaller portion in their own taxes. Even though their share of the state money is far larger than their contribution or population warrant, they feel slighted because they cannot have all the things that folks in the big city have multiples of, like colleges and hospitals. Never mind that there are more sick and injured for one hospital, but not really enough for two. Barring catastrophic events.
Young people leave here to go to college, and at least half do not return, at least in their prime working years. Newcomers are mostly like us, retirees. Pretty soon we will have to return to the big city again, this time to find the medical care that we need more and more. Probably should have moved a few years back, but it came to a head when my husband was diagnosed with dementia and could no longer drive. So we are getting ready to move back to the city, and all the services that exist there. We prefer the life here, but.
Rural life here is ranching primarily, and hay production seems to come in second. Both are water dependent, and water is what we no longer have in abundance. It is especially jarring to read an old account that describes the valley we live in as “swampy”. It has been desert since I was a youngster on vacation with my folks. This years torrential rains have visibly raise the levels on the reservoirs and natural ponds. The last long drought (before this one) did cause some of the farmers to stop growing alfalfa and put in a hay that doesn’t take quite so much water, but some still plant one of the most water intensive crops there is. In a desert. That is a form of blindness that seems to afflict a lot of people here. They cannot and will not stop using up a finite resource at the same time they cry about their kids not being able to live here anymore.
But it is the government’s fault – mostly the state, but the federal government too. They don’t let them do what they want to do. No matter how most of the people feel about things, they want to do something that makes them money and to hell with the consequences. Now we have consequences in longer droughts, more fires and the occasional flood. The last rains damaged a cemetery that has been used for over a hundred years. The people charged with fixing it are hoping for FEMA funds or some other federal money. Of course they are, there is not enough of their own funds to fix a mess like they have now.
They need the rest of the country, and they know they need the rest of the country, but they do not like it one bit. They keep saying that city people don’t understand, but they don’t understand either. Every few years there is a movement to split the state – various schemes, all variations of urban (Democratic) areas separated from rural (Republican) areas. Dog help them if they ever succeed.
@Kay: Thank you, Kay. I’m warned. I don’t control a media outlet, or I’d be flogging this.
@Kay: My aunt from West Virginia said that in her youth (1930s to 1950s), the three Rs there were reading, ‘riting, and the road to Akron.
@Butch: Yes, it does to me. The difference is that you aren’t trying to roll back progress, or keep “those people” from getting help. I grew up in a town with a population less than 1,000, and work with a lot of people who live in small towns, so I know what you mean.
@Kent: So glad I didn’t waste my time on this show. That’s exactly what I expected. We had the same problem with 1883 when we were forced to watch it while visiting my in-laws in Texas. We just rolled our eyes the whole damn time. We really only like Westerns that stay away from that shit (like The English) or openly mock/subvert it (like Godless).
The Pale Scot
Rooted in union solidarity since forgotten and the pride of physical skills needed when it was done manually once upon a time
Richard Burton on mining
“Miners believed themselves to be the aristocrats of the working class”
@Kay: I was in 4H, it was great! Glad it’s still out there
I think the reason they ruined Boy Scouts is because rural men are terrified their son will “turn gay” if he’s exposed to anything that’s not “manly”. Having a tough, “manly” son is important to a lot of men in these places. It’s part of what the drag queen panic is about, that and Trans acceptance.
@JaneE: Thanks for this.
I’m reminded of the Dust Bowl, and the widespread flooding the country suffered in the last century. Dayton, Ohio had lots of dams and waterworks put in after their experience in 1913. This stuff isn’t new, in much of the country, and only national support can address it.
We’re all in this together.
@What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?: TRUTH. I have a co-worker who resents help for single mothers because she says when she was one no one helped her and she ended up ok, so why shouldn’t they help themselves too? This attitude is common here.
@Soprano2: The big question is always WHY a person prefers the rural life and how they view Cities (and people in them). If they just like living near family, mountains, lakes, etc., it’s all good. But far too often the answer is loaded with white-washed nostalgia for and not-so-subtle dog-whistles about cities being riddled with crime and weirdos and nobody speaking English etc. When we visit TX or even rural parts of CA and I mention living in Los Angeles it’s about a 50-50 chance that the local says something problematic in their very next sentence.
@Gvg: There is so much naive romantacizing of the time before WalMart. My mother was thrilled when Ramey’s opened a real grocery store in the slightly bigger town 5 miles away, because it meant she didn’t have to drive over 20 miles to grocery shop. The only store in our town was a feed store with some groceries at highway robbery prices. It wasn’t great.
@Frankensteinbeck: RE: telling Appalachian coal towns no one is bringing back the coal mines, yeah Hillary tried talking about that and got absolutely hammered by the people in said coal towns and, states AND, the media. How dare she tell the truth about the future, and talk about plans to try to bring in other businesses or manufacturing to replace the closing mines….
The Pale Scot
If this is Cali, it amuses me to no end that the hoped for red portions believe they’d have access to LA’s water supply.
Thread is mostly dead, but wanted to say that all of the top 5 in my high school class went to college and got the hell out of that small town. They are all my friends. I’m in Springfield, so I’m the closest. The others are in Little Rock, St. Louis, Virginia and KC, KS. All are women, too, and all got degrees.
@jonas: Yep…all the towns in KY depended on the govt.-price-supported tobacco market, which brought billions in income into the state. Small towns flourished until the advent of Walmart/Kmart in the ’80’s, and the cutting of price supports in the name of ?? balance the budget? Who knows… my father-in-law pulled down a multiple thousand/year income from his two downtown stores until the early Nineties. It was all downhill from there, and when Moscow Mitch ended the tobacco price supports in ’04, growing tobacco pretty much ceased on all the farms around here. Many of the small towns shrank and the downtowns died. We still have one of his stores, which survives as a tax writeoff mainly ….
@What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us?: Yep…thousands of black lung patients will testify to that…
@Matt McIrvin: Yes. The Church Lady who was my co-worker for 25 years was always pushing the idea that welfare was better done by the church…the idea being the supplicant could be vetted and approved, or not, by HER and her fellow church members, rather than supported by the gubmint which would not try to proselytize them or discriminate on the basis of whatever commandment they had broken lately… Talibangelicals are always pushing for privatization of welfare, until you mention that their SS/Medicare would disappear too lol
@J R in WV: US 25 and 27
@evodevo: I keep linking back to this old Brad DeLong post, describing a conversation he had with a Clinton Administration official about “the Republicans we have in Texas”:
The quaint thing about it is just that back then, the attitude hadn’t spread everywhere yet.
@Soprano2: Does mom understand she’s subsidizing the box store labor now?
Those so-called ‘cheaper prices’ are not cheaper, someone is paying and it’s not the Walton family.
I’ll gladly return to pre-Walmart days. My local economy, and labor force, would be a whole lot better off.
@Soprano2: Springfield MO?
@NotMax: Symptom, not the disease.
@catclub: I have heard this so much from rural acquaintances and family members.
Most farmers grow soybeans and field corn and grain for non-human consumption or for export. It does not end up on urban liberal tables.
Most of the produce that people buy in grocery stores, the fruits and vegetables that people eat, comes from California or, out of season, from south America.
They have a fundamental misunderstanding of who and where their major market is. And who makes it possible to pay their mortgages, plow the roads and make up the funding shortfall to build their schools.
Most businesses this dumb about their markets go out of business.
There is an unsustainable belief in rural America about whose bread is being buttered by whom.
Urban America doesn’t especially need rural America. But rural America absolutely needs the cities.
Living rural is a lifestyle now, subsidized by the tax base of cities, subsidies without which it would revert quickly to a pre-modern era.
I have an aged yet still living aunt who remembers her eldest sister telling her about when they got electricity at their rural farmhouse and the convenience of electric light. They still had an outdoor privy for some years after. My Mother remembered using it as a little girl.
AND….the rural dominanted GOP supermajority wants to cut the Nashville City Council in half, wants to end special taxes which fund the Nashville Convention Center, wants to deny Nashville the ability to control STR(airbnb etc) wants to criminalize drag shows and the list goes on.
What the Grand Olde Posterior refuses to deal with are problems at Children Services where for months, kids have slept on the floor of office buildings or hospitals and refuse to help overburdened case workers. The list goes on….