The Monday Morning Teaser

After about a month on the road, I’m back home and producing the Sift on its usual schedule.

None of the major news stories this week — the Fox/Dominion settlement, the bizarre series of people getting shot for making common mistakes, the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the lower-court ruling banning mifepristone — seemed to me to need an in-depth analysis beyond what’s available in your usual news sources, so this week’s featured post is a more general reflection on driving through the empty places of America.

I grew up in the rural Midwest, so I understand the economic story of why the area was settled in the first place: The Homestead Act, then an economy grew up around the small family farms, and then industry came.

But then industry moved to Mexico or China, and farms don’t require that many people any more. So what’s the future of this place? Why won’t it all turn into endless fields where robot combines are powered by windmill electricity?

Living in a place that you love, but which has no obvious path into the future, might make you paranoid or depressed or resentful. And it more or less has. Maybe there’s a reason the Trump base in rural America seems so insane to the rest of the country.

Anyway, those reflections should appear by 10 EDT or so. The weekly summary will cover the stories I listed above, before closing with the most charming podcast I listened to on the drive. That should post around noon.

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  • Professor Tom  On April 24, 2023 at 8:45 am

    You seem to exclude the possibility we as America bring back production and expand farming in natural security interest after its now clear to everybody that Communist China and Russia plans on ruling the world destroying our western civilization,

    Professor Tom

    • weeklysift  On April 24, 2023 at 9:22 am

      And what if that production and those farms don’t need many people to run them?

      • Professor Tom  On April 24, 2023 at 9:40 am

        Why so negative thinking – it seems current trend more people wish to leave the big cities and live more in harmony with nature.

        Industries brought back will require less people and so will farming as automation is necessary to compete with communist slave labor but it will be enough to create renewal that then young people can flock to working from home instead of going to Bali like they do now.

        There they can start small hobby organic farming and small hobby businesses away from crime and pollution in our big cities.

        Designers can design artists create and sell online.

        For me at 71 five winter months in Africa Mombasa two summer months in Finland plus 5 in Manhattan is mix for me but younger can visit cities if needed not living there.

        Professor Tom

        As a published historian The Doomsday Glacier – could it happen again on Amazon – could just as well have been researched and published traveling to 150 countries but sitting in Bardstown KY as Manhattan – why could not writers reside in Ohio or Montana just as well ?

        Professor Tom

    • Bill  On April 24, 2023 at 10:37 am

      Prof……not convinced that what you suggest can deal with the sheer volume and demographic mix of the people currently residing in the Midwest. Indeed, as you point out, automation would prevail to compete with the cheap labor on offer elsewhere. A substantially smaller and more skilled workforce is then required and it seems neither the industries requiring that kind of workforce nor the government has much appetite to systemically cultivate one.

      • Tom  On April 24, 2023 at 10:45 am

        If a town create 500 jobs another 1000 around build up without government needed to be involved as old factory towns used to we shall see

  • susanmbrewer  On April 24, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    There’s certainly some appeal in this idea, but I doubt it scales anywhere near as much as the writer suggests. My husband grew up in a village in a largely rural part of Wisconsin — the area wasn’t thriving all that much then, except in comparison to now. Over the past 20 or so years, a bit of this proposed rejuvenation has happened, mostly in a single small town in the area. It has helped…a little. It’s good to see and I hope it will continue and expand because it does indeed help. But it’s far from a cure-all, and replicating it in virtually all these small towns isn’t realistic.

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