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The urban-rural divide


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#1 baw1064

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 09:01 PM

One thing that this week's election underscores is the urban-rural divide in the country. For example, two of the D pickups (as the vote totals stand right now) are urbanish districts centered on Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City. Yes, they're more or less urban, but...Utah and Oklahoma? So really urban vs. rural seems a much more significant differentiation than regional.

538's take (see the table broken down by party and categorization, which goes from 100% D in urban districts to 85% R in rural ones): https://fivethirtyei...e-to-democrats/

The obvious questions are 1) what is causing this? 2) can anything produce a more unified consensus?
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#2 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 09:28 PM

View Postbaw1064, on 08 November 2018 - 09:01 PM, said:

The obvious questions are 1) what is causing this? 2) can anything produce a more unified consensus?

People in suburbs work in cities, or if they don't their neighbors do. People who live and work in cities have a LOT of contact with diverse populations -- and Altemeyer on the difference that makes.

The inbred monocultural American rural communities are declining in population, and gerrymandering will only take you so far. Eventually, your town gets so small you can't support a school any more and your children (gasp!) have to go to schools that aren't de facto segregated with all of the students being cousins who go to the same church. And you know what that leads to ...
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#3 pnwguy

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 10:02 PM

I think one of the smartest things the Democratic party could do is put together plans to bring more employment opportunities to rural areas. Agriculture is not going to get above the 2% of jobs mark that it is now. And most kids with any promise are leaving those rural dead-end areas, even if they don't get a college degree. Urban dwellers can continue to look down on those populations, and that just gets us Dumpsterism and other GOP snake-oil salespeople who exploit them.

One thing that those in agriculture have long known is you can't be a slacker and run a farm. The work ethic is high in these areas. Of course, so is bigotry and a lot of ignorance. But the solution isn't to ignore the problem, no more than leaving failed nation-states and dysfunctional cultures to themselves ends up making them havens for terrorists. Right now, the GOP is the ISIS of rural America.

We all like to talk about diversity and seeing everyone have equal opportunity. But a kid from Idaho without high speed Internet and decent teachers and nearby middle-class employment options is going to be as limited in the economy of the future as the gang-banger in East St. Louis. He'll just be selling oxy and meth, instead of crack.
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#4 LFC

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 10:21 PM

View Postpnwguy, on 08 November 2018 - 10:02 PM, said:

I think one of the smartest things the Democratic party could do is put together plans to bring more employment opportunities to rural areas.

The problem is cracking the Republican zombie voting in the first place. Team Red is doing everything in their power to turn their states into shitholes and then keep their residents ignorant, angry, and distracted. There's a point where they have to value education and infrastructure.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

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#5 JackD

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 11:35 PM

More employment opportunities in rural areas. This is an ancient problem that does not seem soluble. "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" is an old song that states the problem well albeit from a slightly different perspective. Seems pretty much limited to enough education and technical skills to work independently and largely on a gig basis. That won't work for the traditional blue collar type who used to rely on the one manufacturing plant in the county or town that's since moved away or gone out of business.
Anyone got any creative and/or practical ideas?

#6 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 06:56 AM

Jobs in rural areas. OK, what kind? Manufacturing requires a network of services, transportation, materials ... Krugman made his Nobel on economic geography, and Reagan actively tore down the former center of manufacturing in the US Midwest. That network is gone, and with Shanghai replacing it it's not going to regenerate itself.

OK, not manufacturing. How about financial services, the thing that the USA was going to use to replace manufacturing. Stop laughing!

Not manufacturing, not financial services. Well, there's the work-from-home call center business. Apparently it's big in the Dakotas. Not what you were looking for?

How about arts and crafts? Some of the reservations have a decent revenue in crafts, and so do some of the small towns around here; NM is relatively big on art and custom metalwork.

Tourism is kind of limited. I really have a hard time imagining central Kansas or Nebraska making their future on that.

Bottom line: there is precious little that people in thinly-populated areas can do as well as, much less better than, people where there are lots of other people and businesses. Both support and customers. Living in a sparse area is just flat more expensive due to the time and distance factors at both ends of the value chain.

Oh, yeah -- modern communications mitigate that to some degree. Some, by no means all, but if you can get decent communications it becomes possible to do those at-home call work, writing (like John Scalzi) and so forth. That's why semi-rural areas in Europe are having a bit of a renaissance. Of course, they have vastly better infrastructure (both transportation and communications) than we do, because it just doesn't pay to build a rail line or install fiber for a town of 50 people and remote farms are right out. When I drive between home and eastern Arizona, there is only one place (Quemado) where I even get a cell signal for about five miles; the rest is dark. The State arranged passenger rail up the Rio Grande valley between Belen and Santa Fe, which works because most of the population lives on that stretch. Socorro isn't on it because BNSF is single-track south of Belen. Don't suggest rail to Lincoln, that's so far from reality that it's not even funny. Likewise anything that could be called fast Internet. The only reason that towns out here have electricity and telephone is because of the New Deal -- it couldn't happen today.

And a big part of why it can't happen today is because the people in rural areas are totally against Big Government programs like that.
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
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"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
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#7 Traveler

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 10:49 AM

DC, that is one excellent appraisal. Normally, I really respect those folks, but they sure backed the wrong economic policy horse. Let 'em stew in their own juices.
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#8 AnBr

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 03:14 PM

Plus it is a disappearing demographic. It is becoming more sparsely populated as urban areas are growing. As noted their xenophobia is what drives them and makes so manipulable by the right-wingnut media and Rethugs. Exposure to diversity makes that a whole lot less scary. There are no real employment solutions there. Automation in agriculture has done its work. Why waste resources chasing after that which is disappearing. It would be like throwing money at flood losses just to have people to keep rebuilding on flood plains.
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#9 LFC

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 04:29 PM

View PostAnBr, on 09 November 2018 - 03:14 PM, said:

Automation in agriculture has done its work.

The same people who are embracing this to allow local farms to run more efficiently can't understand where the manufacturing jobs have gone. Clearly they've all been sent to China or given to illegal immigrants. Oh, yeah. And problems staffing up a plant with people who can pass a drug test has nothing to do with it either.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#10 baw1064

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 04:53 PM

View PostAnBr, on 09 November 2018 - 03:14 PM, said:

Why waste resources chasing after that which is disappearing. It would be like throwing money at flood losses just to have people to keep rebuilding on flood plains.

And it's not like we ever do that!
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#11 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 10:00 PM

Krugman lays it out incomparably better than I can hope to:
https://www.nytimes....ner=rss&emc=rss
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#12 LFC

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 10:38 AM

Sullivan takes on roughly the same topic of the divide though without specifying the urban/rural component of it.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#13 baw1064

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 07:27 PM

 LFC, on 10 November 2018 - 10:38 AM, said:

Sullivan takes on roughly the same topic of the divide though without specifying the urban/rural component of it.

Actually he does mention the rural component in a few places. Thanks for pointing out this column.

One thing that occurs to me is that the success of the ACA markets has been much greater in metro areas than rural ones. So maybe a lot of the reaction depends on where you live. If you're in a rural area, you may have only one plan available, which may not be well-suited to your needs. But pretty much any metro area anywhere in the country has several plans available, and the resulting choice benefits the consumer.
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#14 baw1064

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 07:42 PM

So I did a bit of a deep dive into this urban vs. rural political demographics, and decided to look at Idaho. Why? 1) it's currently the fastest growing US state, and a very red one. 2) a lot of the population growth is supposedly driven by people fleeing high housing costs in Seattle and California, and moving to Boise (the one largish metro area in the state).

So even in an individual red state, the same pattern holds. https://www.idahopre...b09ee90122.html

1) Most of the growth the past few decades has been in Boise (and to a lesser extent in other population centers).
2) The rural, and very red counties haven't grown hardly at all in decades, and are steadily getting older.
3) Boise tends to vote bluish, but isn't big enough or blue enough, to outvote the rest of the state (yet, anyway).
4) Boise is split between Idaho's two congressional districts--putting it all in one would likely make that district not completely safe for Republicans.
5) The people moving to Idaho from other states are bringing their less conservative politics with them.
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#15 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 08:30 PM

View Postbaw1064, on 11 November 2018 - 07:42 PM, said:

So I did a bit of a deep dive into this urban vs. rural political demographics, and decided to look at Idaho. Why? 1) it's currently the fastest growing US state, and a very red one. 2) a lot of the population growth is supposedly driven by people fleeing high housing costs in Seattle and California, and moving to Boise (the one largish metro area in the state).

So even in an individual red state, the same pattern holds. https://www.idahopre...b09ee90122.html

1) Most of the growth the past few decades has been in Boise (and to a lesser extent in other population centers).
2) The rural, and very red counties haven't grown hardly at all in decades, and are steadily getting older.
3) Boise tends to vote bluish, but isn't big enough or blue enough, to outvote the rest of the state (yet, anyway).
4) Boise is split between Idaho's two congressional districts--putting it all in one would likely make that district not completely safe for Republicans.
5) The people moving to Idaho from other states are bringing their less conservative politics with them.

1 and 2 are as to be expected. 3 slightly less so, but not remarkable.
4 could almost be excused on the grounds that Boise alone is nearly half the State's population. Almost.
5 is not shocking in light of 1, but don't overlook the fact that besides political diversity the influx is also bringing people who aren't solidly Mormon, aren't all white, aren't ...

Diversity erodes RWA followership. Don't lose track of that in these times.
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#16 Probabilistic

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 09:27 AM

Traditional approaches haven't worked. A bit of "OOTB thinking" is required. Like, a new Hippie-Hipster Homestead Act designed to induce these people to live in rural areas. You know, gentrification as a solution (GaaS).

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#17 Sinan

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 10:17 AM

Rural America is losing people to urban areas, the phone companies tell me this all the time. One way to keep them in town is to bring fiber to each home. Spending on infrastructure targeted at rural America can put people to work but it has to be sustained not just one shots. The other thing is that industrial farming has really impacted the small producer.
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#18 Traveler

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 03:16 PM

Sinan, good point. But seems to me the MAGAs have more than enough social media. However, that don't require good broadband.


Indy, do you have decent internet on your farm?
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#19 Traveler

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 03:26 PM

Another very important difference. Perhaps even more so.

Quote

There’s a question that splits Americans neatly in two. Every year, on its American Values Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute asks Americans whether they “think American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the better, or has it mostly changed for the worse,” since the 1950s. Fifty percent of Americans say that it’s gotten better in this year’s poll, and 47 percent say that it has gotten worse.

But for white voters, the answer to that question is split by education level. Fifty-eight percent of college-educated whites this year say that America has gotten better since 1950, while 57 percent of non-college-educated whites say that it’s gotten worse. When President Trump says “Make America great again,” the againis instructive. He’s capitalizing on the nostalgia that non-college-educated white voters have for America’s past. “That harkening back to a supposed golden age where things were better has a really, really strong appeal for whites without a college degree,” Jones said.

That nostalgia, however, is for a time when black Americans and other minority groups had significantly fewer civil rights. And a Republican rhetoric that centers a longing for an era of white prosperity, rife with racist violence against black people, is why it’s impossible to understand the diploma divide without accounting for racial resentment. Needless to say, black Americans and other minority groups aren’t as keen on returning to the past.

When researchers control for voter attitudes on race in addition to white voters’ education level, Tesler says, the diploma divide disappears. No other factor, he says, explains the education gap as well—not economic anxiety, ideology, income, or gender.
A good read.
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#20 baw1064

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Posted 12 November 2018 - 04:02 PM

View PostTraveler, on 12 November 2018 - 03:26 PM, said:

" When researchers control for voter attitudes on race in addition to white voters’ education level, Tesler says, the diploma divide disappears. No other factor, he says, explains the education gap as well—not economic anxiety, ideology, income, or gender."

But isn't this just looking at the same issue from the opposite direction? As DC points out in a couple places in this thread, it's very hard to hold insular attitudes when you are living and working with people of widely differing backgrounds. For instance, if you live in a large metro area. Or on a college campus. So the difference could be explained either in terms of education or in terms of racial attitudes. The two correlate, but which is the cause and which the result?
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