The latest from the Rural Towns Project
27 September 2020
What I’m reading and thinking about this week.
Lots I could share but I’m focusing on two articles that I spent the most time thinking about. I’m still processing and not able to articulate my thoughts very well yet. But the debate too often seems to me to be between big government and big business. Between wealthy and poor. Between regulation and free market. What gets lost is the middle class and the middle ground - and the rural American West that seems to be stuck in that shrinking middle ground.
This is a fascinating article. So much to think about. It’s also sobering. For example, the “K” shaped economic recovery seems to be already happening. There is a wealth gap that is widening. And the middle class is struggling to be part of the upward line on that “K”. You can click on a link in that article to explore the data. But if you click on Idaho, or Utah, for example, and want to explore cities or counties…or towns, you won’t find anything outside of the major metro areas. What about the rest of those states? How are those rural businesses and rural communities doing? Are politicians and researchers and others even thinking about them?
That eroding middle is at least partially why we are seeing some interesting partnerships in the fights over land and access in the rural American West as highlighted in this article. It’s from a few years ago but I just came across it again. I don’t have any data on public opinion but based on my own experience and background, the people I grew up with are just as wary of any one person restricting access to huge swaths of land as they are the federal government controlling huge swaths of land in the American West. Lots of small farmers and small business owners (and people who hunt and fish and just enjoy the outdoors) are caught in the middle.