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It's the cities, stupid
November 16, 2004 9:30 AM   Subscribe

The Urban Archipelago. "It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America. We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compassion--New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and on and on. And we live on islands in red states too--a fact obscured by that state-by-state map."
posted by gentle (54 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What's the stretches of mostly rural blue throughout the South and the Lower Miss. Valley? Something akin to an Asian Land Bridge of the electorate?
posted by raysmj at 9:45 AM on November 16, 2004


This was the cover story of Seattle's Stranger this week. So what is this site? Did the Stranger buy a URL and put their story on it in addition to putting it on their own site? Or did someone just hijack the entire piece and build their own site? Weirdness.
posted by GaelFC at 9:46 AM on November 16, 2004


The Stranger is a funny rag. But this recent fad of snotty "I'm turning my back on rural America forever" essays is sort of a cop-out from educating the ignorant, isn't it?
posted by inksyndicate at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2004


Poor Atlanta... it's so not a real city.
posted by wfrgms at 9:51 AM on November 16, 2004


Vermont is one of the only states that is predominantly rural as well, and it's totally blue. And this guy's on here telling rural voters to, quote, fuck off, unquote. There is a good bit of rural v. urban going on, but unfortunately for our many newfound Electoral Fundamentalists, the answer does not lie in oversimplification.
posted by raysmj at 9:52 AM on November 16, 2004


I don't understand what the map measures. Why is Chicago soooo high?
posted by xammerboy at 9:57 AM on November 16, 2004


I'm with inksyndicate.

I don't think the "We're sane liberals and everyone else is nuts" line will win hearts and minds in Peoria.

In fact, that approach could have been tailored by Karl Rove : rural America already feels that the coasts and liberaldom holds it in contempt and, regardless of the truth of the matter, such attitudes as the "Urban Archipelago" expresses can only make things worse.
posted by troutfishing at 9:59 AM on November 16, 2004


Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight - m4m
Reply to: anon-47785163@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Nov 03 19:11:50 2004

I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
posted by four panels at 10:05 AM on November 16, 2004


Enough with the fucking red state/blue state canard already. Sheesh.
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:06 AM on November 16, 2004


when your foodstamps are gone and you are pissing all over yourself on the corner of a street without disability or a fucking pension i will smile in your face. i will lean really close to you and mouth the words "i told you so."
posted by four panels at 10:07 AM on November 16, 2004


And we are the real Americans. They--rural, red-state voters, the denizens of the exurbs--are not real Americans. They are rubes, fools, and hate-mongers.

Right - we're the understanding, open-minded ones who accept other points of view! Sheesh.
posted by freebird at 10:17 AM on November 16, 2004


Yawn. Two steps forward, one step back. This piece starts with the realization that the "red state" is a myth, and then starts into the same old blatant bigotry and tribalism as we've seen before. Lets clear out some of the more obvious bullshit:

When it comes to the environment, our new policy is this: Let the heartland live with the consequences of handing the national government to the rape-and-pillage party. The only time urbanists should concern themselves with the environment is when we are impacted--directly, not spiritually (the depressing awareness that there is no unspoiled wilderness out there doesn't count). Air pollution, for instance: We should be aggressive. If coal is to be burned, it has to be burned as cleanly as possible so as not to foul the air we all have to breathe. But if West Virginia wants to elect politicians who allow mining companies to lop off the tops off mountains and dump the waste into valleys and streams, thus causing floods that destroy the homes of the yokels who vote for those politicians, it no longer matters to us. Fuck the mountains in West Virginia--send us the power generated by cleanly burned coal, you rubes, and be sure to wear lifejackets to bed.

All of the major urban centers are strongly dependent on rural water supplies. This is critically true in LA which simply could not exist in its current form without a large chunk of the Rio Colorado. This makes watershed health a critical priority for people in urban areas.

We officially no longer give a shit when family farms fail. Fewer family farms equal fewer rural voters. We will, however, continue to support small faggy organic farms, as we are willing to pay more for free-range chicken and beef from non-cannibal cows.

We don't support small farms, except when we do support small farms.

So how do we live and what are we for? Look around you, urbanite, at the multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities, and tribes that are smashed together in every urban center (yes, even Seattle): We're for that. We're for pluralism of thought, race, and identity.

Which is a validation of a claim that I've been making off and on over the last 6 months. These urban tribalists don't see people out here if they are black or hispanic. If they are gay or lesbian. If they are pagan or buddhist.

Then, a brief moment of almost sanity:

These, of course, are broad strokes. We all know that not everyone who lives in the suburbs is a raving neo-Christian idiot.

Then off on a justification for "holy war" against an admitted straw man.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:23 AM on November 16, 2004




I've been asking my brother-in-law to take me shooting for a while now. He voted for Bush. Whatever. I'll put up with that if he'll take me to the shooting range for some target practice - and, maybe he'll let me unload a few clips from some heavier ordinance.

Along the way to the range, I'll tell him that the smart Dems are starting to chill on the gun thing. ;/
posted by troutfishing at 10:43 AM on November 16, 2004


I think these articles are a manifestation of frustrated urbanites. Yes, it's a "cop-out from educating the electorate," but these people are pissed because they spent the last year desperately trying to educate people, and were outnumbered nonetheless. So they lash out with a quick, "You know what, fuck you people, you made your bed now lie in it." Lord knows, I felt that way after the election.

The sad part is, as KirkJobSluder explained, it's all connected, and we're all lying in it.
posted by fungible at 10:45 AM on November 16, 2004


If we got rid of the electoral college we would no longer have this red state/blue state nonsense.

There are rePublicans in the Northeast and there are Dems in the South and the plains.

The real struggle is socio-economic regardless of how many wedges of religion, race and etc. the power brokers attempt to drive between us.

Too bad so many are so easily fooled.
posted by nofundy at 10:46 AM on November 16, 2004


sort of a cop-out from educating the ignorant

Some people just don't wanna lern nuth'n, so why bother try'n?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:52 AM on November 16, 2004


OK; I'll admit that the strident insults of rural Republicans are a little offputting, but what if we ignore those and look at the fundamental electoral strategy proposed here? Concentrate on growing urban centers and you grow the Democratic base. Eliminate farm subsidies (an inevitability in the current international trade climate, though it might take a while) and you shrink the Republican base. Count on changing demographics: the historic outflow of young people from rural areas to urban centers; and work on making those urban transplants part of the Democratic base. Small towns just aren't the future of the American economy. This seems like a viable long-term strategy for a permanent Democratic majority.

As I see it, the major issue is in addressing the exurbs, which skew Republican. I think rising gas prices might fix that problem, though...

Right - we're the understanding, open-minded ones who accept other points of view!

I am sick and tired of this idea that being "open-minded" means that one has to accept bigotry as a valid viewpoint. "You're bigoted against my Christian hatred of gays!" What utter nonsense. I can be open-minded and still tell the difference between right and wrong.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:27 AM on November 16, 2004


I don't want my party to be an "urban" party. I grew up in a small town and feel so much more sympathy for those surrounded by the yee-haw bush crowd. I like this solution better. Infiltrate the "red states" to balance them out. Support the progressives that are already there.
posted by whatnot at 11:32 AM on November 16, 2004


I don't think the "We're sane liberals and everyone else is nuts" line will win hearts and minds in Peoria.

Actually, based on election results, it turns out that Kerry does, in fact, play in Peoria.
posted by deanc at 11:35 AM on November 16, 2004


I am sick and tired of this idea that being "open-minded" means that one has to accept bigotry as a valid viewpoint. "You're bigoted against my Christian hatred of gays!" What utter nonsense. I can be open-minded and still tell the difference between right and wrong.

Of course. But do you really believe that everyone who voted for Bush is a pyscho bigot? I know it's tempting, but I know several people who I think break that sterotype. I disagree with them, but they have some reasoned arguments that need to be addressed in a rational dialogue - dismissing them as bigots or warpigs only makes the left look reactionary and fanatical.

My point is that as long as we characterize everyone who voted for Bush as stupid, ignorant and/or evil, they're probably going to keep doing it. And it makes it pretty hard to claim we're the fair minded ones.
posted by freebird at 11:40 AM on November 16, 2004


While this article is full of invective, I think there are a few points worth considering. nofundy, the socio-economics of it are sort of buried under all the nastiness in the article, but they do mention it, and I agree with you that the problem is basically socio-economic in that cities and rural areas are very different social and economic environments.

Cities and rural areas do need different kinds of services and funding and utilization of resources. If a largely rural state defeats a transportation funding bill that is designed to primarily benefit an urban area in that state, then the city is in fact "losing" to the country. The needs of the more densely-populated areas may not be well-represented or well-served in relation to the rest of the state, creating a socio-economic problem.

I think the call for more localized spending and services, targeting appropriate attention to local needs, is valid and worth working toward. I agree that cities should attempt to "reel in" the growth of suburbs and exurbs by working hard to provide housing and other incentives for people to move back into or towards the cities and work and raise their families in them. Cities can be highly efficient and be good places to live, if handled properly, and I don't see anything wrong with working out a shift of financial resources from the state and national level down to the local level, to deal with the very different demands of urban and rural environments.

Cities could actually do well to bring the suburban population back into the urban zone with higher density, and reclaim the suburban land for local agriculture that directly serves the city.

Yeah I know this sort of thing might be blue-sky (pardon the pun), but as a set of long-term goals it would make sense, I think. Cities will of course still need food and other resources from rural areas, so there will always be money flowing outward from the population centers.

I think it would make sense to readjust the way we handle the different problems of city and country and adjust the cash flow appropriately.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2004


"The real struggle is socioeconomic regardless of how many wedges of religion, race and etc. the power brokers attempt to drive between us.

Too bad so many are so easily fooled."

Too bad so many who aren't fooled aren't angry at the right people. It's easier to make a less populated area red by getting out those few votes needed to overcome the moderates and the democrats. (That is if you believe the Democrats represent the Left.)

I can't believe that people who live in urban centers have mutated into some new creature. I've been poor in the streets and poor in the fields and my stomach always growled with the same anger. Shouldn't the poor have reached great enough numbers by now to sway an election?

The hell with it. It's easier to quit wondering why and to just cheer my team and yell at the other team.
posted by ?! at 11:44 AM on November 16, 2004


zoogleplex: On the other hand. I do think that where social services are concerned, that urban and rural counties do have a lot to say to each other. I got poh pohed a while ago by an urbanist when I suggested that inner-city and rural ESL teachers might have a lot to learn from each other, for suggesting that the experiences of rural religious minorities might actually be interesting and useful to people in the cities, for suggesting that the experiences of rural gays and lesbians (who are unwittingly being made invisible by their own urban allies) might be worth listening to.

Not only are urban-rural issues seen as mutually antagonistic, but there I'm also getting a sense that rural counties have nothing to say worth listening to.

freebird: I think there is a mistake in thinking that conservatives constituted 51% of the popular vote when they are only about 37%. My feeling is that a decisive factor in this election are people like Christopher Hitchins who appears to be convinced that Islamic facism is a great enough threat that the war in Iraq was justified, even if the war is conducted by the wrong man. I don't think the electorate is as deeply divided as people here on MeFi. The Democrats lost the election because the people who held their nose and voted for Bush, outnumbered the people who held their nose and voted for Kerry.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:15 PM on November 16, 2004


I can't get to urbanarchipelago.com but I found the article at The Stranger's site.

That is, like many of the articles that have appeared in The Stranger, one of the stupidest things I've ever read. The Democrats should continue to cater to the urban liberals, because that obviously worked so well in 2004. As they point out, Kerry won every city with a population over 500,000 -- but what they somehow overlook the fact that he lost the Presidency. Gore did even better in 2000 -- but still lost (despite the Stranger's curious revisionism). The idea that the Democrats' "urban base" can be grown beyond what it was in 2000, coming off eight years of the highly popular Clinton, is pretty dubious. And it misses the point that the highly urban states like New York, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, and California already go for the donkey candidate. Due to the electoral college, building up the urban base in states where the urban base already dominates is pointless.

"We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values." As if urbanites have ever done anything but?

"It's too cold up there and in our heart-of-hearts we hate hockey." Gonna do a great job of wooing Detroit, a.k.a. Hockeytown, with an attitude like that.

"[T]he multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities, and tribes that are smashed together in every urban center (yes, even Seattle)" -- no, not "even Seattle," the second-whitest major city on the West Coast. 70% white. Only Portland is whiter (80%). LA and San Francisco are less than 50% white -- and New York City is like 35% white. Yeah, it's nice having "people of color" around for "local character" -- especially those polite, non-threatening Asians -- as long as you're still a solid majority, eh? I mean, I live in the area (albeit across the lake in the hated Bellevue) and love it, but I wouldn't claim that having lots of different kinds of Scandinavians constitutes a "multiplicity of ethnicities."

"And speaking of science: SCIENCE!" On the other hand, gratiutious Thomas Dolby references are never bad.

"We are for density" -- in other words, you are for never having a moment's peace and quiet, of always having someone else's knee pressed up against your back, and of only the wealthy being able to afford a decent amount of elbow room. Bleah. As an added bonus, it makes it much easier to kill lots of people at once, if you are, say, a terrorist. Blowing up suburban tract houses one at a time is a pretty slow way to kill Americans.

So... meh. As journalism, it's a failure; as op-ed, it's stupid.
posted by kindall at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2004


KJS, good point. Exchange of ideas, methods and information is essentially free, and certainly would be mutually beneficial. There's no reason why people can't talk to each other and share ideas.

I'm talking more about how public funds are taken up and redistributed, which on the face of it seems to favor a rural point of view at the moment, to the detriment of cities (in backlash to the trend of the Civil Rights Era, where it went the other way).

I think there's some merit to the concept of cities funding and governing themselves more directly with respect to "city-centric" issues - which yes, would divert money that currently is redistributed by the government out into the country. Cities need more attention paid to transportation infrastructure, mass transit, fire/police/EMS coverage, some type of healthcare, child services, waste management, drug addiction, and lots of other problems, just because of population density.

"Not only are urban-rural issues seen as mutually antagonistic, but there I'm also getting a sense that rural counties have nothing to say worth listening to."

Well, I think that goes both ways, and in some ways rightly so. To illustrate, I just had a conversation with one of my best friends, who still lives in the ultra-rural town in Maine (one of the dark red counties, you can see it on that map) where I went to high school, regarding this article. He complained that "the city folk" down in Southern Maine (which has largely turned into a suburb of Boston and the Rt. 128 Tech Corridor) put to referendum a law that would make hunting bear via "baiting, hounding and trapping" illegal. Many rural Mainers were apparently pretty upset about that, as he (an avid hunter) tells me there is currently a bear overpopulation problem in Maine, which will require some measure to reduce. (I don't know the specifics of the situation, I'm sure it's more complicated than I represent, but I'm just writing this to illustrate. Articles related here, here, google search.) Now, from living out there I can tell you that hunting bear is really difficult - they are shy and can smell you a long way off, and in Maine are very wary of humans (unless, like in New Jersey, their habitat is being encroached and they're hungry of course). Laying out bait is one way of effectively hunting bear, and increases the likelihood that an overpopulation problem can be managed by a sanctioned hunt.

So on one side, you've got the "city folk" who believe (with some justification) that bear-baiting is cruel to the animals, and on the other side you've got "country folk" who enjoy the sport and (again from my experience) are largely also concerned with intelligent management of the bear population, and not so bloodthirsty as many would think. There's also the position of whether the bears are too numerous and present a danger (they are appearing in suburbs as they expand), and the position of preserving wildlife, which overlap the lines of the previous opinions. There's an issue in terms of "tourist hunter" revenues coming into the state on top of that.

And of course, neither side listens to the other much. I can tell you that stubborn New England hunters don't want city people telling them how to hunt and manage their game! Also, if you don't let the hunters thin the population, you need to pay the Rangers to do it, as opposed to collecting revenue from hunting licenses. And believe me, they'll use bait and dogs and traps, because it's effective and they will be under State directive to kill X number of bears by such-and-so date.

The ballot measure was defeated narrowly, so it continues to be legal to hunt bear with bait, dogs and traps in Maine.

I'd point out that reeling the suburbs back into the cities, increasing the urban density in Southern Maine, would pretty much solve this problem. Plenty of room for bears, plenty of bear for a properly managed herd and hunt, and nobody's dumpsters being invaded (which is unhealthy for the bears anyway). So, in the crudest sense (and with respect to those city-dwellers who feel strongly about wildlife preservation, of which I am one), it turns into a case of, "bear population is a 'country' problem, so let the country people manage it as they see fit, and let's worry about our own 'city' problem of cheap handguns getting into the hands of criminals, which is not a country problem."

That's highly oversimplified, but might be an important way to shift priorities for mutual benefit.

No derailment intended so let's not argue about the ethics of bear hunting and habitat management - I just wrote about this because of the conversation that I had about this very article which brought up an immediate illustration of some of the difference and, as KJS points out, antagonism and unwillingness to communicate.

A lot of what's going on in America is backlash from rural people rejecting urban people telling them how to live and spend their money and manage their affairs; probably soon it will be backlash the other way. How about we take a good look at the issues, prioritize them as rural vs. urban, and apply local expertise and funding to local problems?

Here's an example that comes to mind: Faith-Based Charities. Now, if you live in a small, relatively homogenous town in a rural area where church and religious life are very central to the community, having local churches handle problems like poverty, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, drug abuse, etc. might actually be very effective and even appropriate. While I personally don't like the idea of giving Federal money to churches for this sort of thing, the reality is that in a small religious community, the churches are probably the best organization to give the funds - they are the "backbone of the community," the members all know each other and know the problems of the town, and there's only so much local money to help those in need. There may be issues of religious intolerance that apply - for instance a fundamentalist church is probably not going to donate hospice care to a gay AIDS patient - but that can (apologies if this seems harsh, again it's just an example) be seen as a local problem if that happens. Yeah, the ACLU wouldn't like it, but rural America clearly resents the ACLU (seen largely as "city folk") telling them what to do.

In cities, these problems really can't be handled effectively by the church community, which though it contributes most valuably to dealing with this sort of thing, is not so large a part of city life. So, government social services are needed to deal with these difficulties, and should be properly funded within the city.

I'm personally a bit uncomfortable with the scenario above, because of my personal opinions on the effectiveness of religious organizations in dealing with such things and my first-hand knowledge of some more intolerant aspects of small-town populations... but I can see how the different situations really require different application of social service management, and how in this instance trying to impose a city-style Department of Social Services on a small town from the state level would be not only ineffective and possibly wasteful of money, but as an encroachment on local life and values, hated by the local community. And, as such, a possible point for constructive compromise.

I'm sure there's plenty of other items to consider, like education, unemployment, Maybe it's time we reorganize our priorities more carefully - look at what are pressing local problems as opposed to pressing national problems, and deal with them locally - in effect, micromanaging the nation at a community level as opposed to imposing broad directives at State and Federal levels. Cities can pass their own laws and funding bonds to deal with their own problems, as can rural communities, and in some cases one should not dictate to the other what to do.

kindall: "We are for density" -- in other words, you are for never having a moment's peace and quiet, of always having someone else's knee pressed up against your back, and of only the wealthy being able to afford a decent amount of elbow room."

That hasn't been my city life experience in any city I've lived in. You may not believe this, but lots of people like to live in cities with people around them. Not everywhere in the city is hyper-dense low-income project housing, that's very much a small percentage. I live in a neighborhood in LA that's sort of "New York brownstone-y" and with plenty of elbow room. It ain't 40 acres and a mule, but I can walk to grocery, liquor, hardware, electronics, and many other stores, and to my bank. There are many other people who live more densely and are fine with it. There are many rewards and efficiencies to city life, so please don't dismiss being "for density" and "for diversity" so quickly (though you do have a point about Seattle still being mostly white, heh!)
posted by zoogleplex at 1:50 PM on November 16, 2004


The Democrats lost the election because the people who held their nose and voted for Bush, outnumbered the people who held their nose and voted for Kerry.

Sure - I'm just saying it's a mistake to assume everyone in the former camp are bigoted evil idiots.
posted by freebird at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2004


You may not believe this, but lots of people like to live in cities with people around them.

Sure. But the people who wrote this particular editorial think that that's the only way that people want to live, or should want to live, or that it's okay to dismiss people who don't want to live that way because they obviously don't think properly.
posted by kindall at 2:01 PM on November 16, 2004


from Wikipedia

History of conservatism:

Early medieval Europe was almost entirely rural with no population centers and there existed very little trade and commerce; the economy was almost entirely feudal, based in land; money for the most part did not exist, nor did population centers. The rise of the medieval town in the 11th and 12th centuries and the accompanying rise of trade, commerce, and a money economy began the schism between urban and rural life. As towns grew with the rising population boom of the high middle ages and trade increased, the needs and values and outlooks of those in the country versus those in the urban areas diverged. The land-based feudal lords were the conservative elements of the society, while the town merchants and freemen were the liberal elements bringing far-reaching changes, which eventually (at different times in different parts of Europe) displaced feudalism entirely.

This led to the divide between conservatism, initially the defense of a traditional land-based economy and an aristocratic power structure, and liberalism, initially the values and perspectives of the urban merchant class.
posted by stbalbach at 2:17 PM on November 16, 2004


Kindall, indeed, the snark in the article is overpowering. I disagree with that application of snark, I think it's needlessly divisive and insulting (although entertaining, which may be its purpose). Of course, it's the writer's opinion and expression.

However, underneath all that city-biased snark is the thought that since cities and the country are, in fact, quite different, one should not dictate the total government of the other.

I do vibe a bit with the thought of how rural populations are cutting their own economic throats by voting for the Republicans, who I consider to be "rural friendly" only in the sense of playing hard to the religious vote. I don't see much evidence of the Administration actually doing anything to help either rural or urban America at this point, but that's only my point of view of course. And I see merit in the thought of the Democrats working the "socio-economic divide" from the urban side as a political strategy.

Even so. What I think it really points out is that a re-prioritization of national issues seems necessary, shifting some issues down to a more local level and others up to the top, using some intelligent analysis to work out what's really important. I think there's probably some places we could ease the friction between the two populations, just by each side backing off on a few key things and not trying to impose their total will on each other.

You don't like city life? Stay rural! But, you won't make as much money, and you won't get a lot of culture and shopping etc.. Don't like the country life? Stay in the city! But don't expect a house with a 3-car garage on 4 acres and two SUVs. Truth is... you can't have everything, and the suburbs aren't working out so well overall. Probably a good idea to choose one over the other, and for each one to work out ways to make their location more attractive to those who lean toward it.

On preview: stbalbach, good bit there. The divide still pertains, and for largely the same reasons, although rural America is not feudal in nature.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:34 PM on November 16, 2004


I think a lot of the signal in this essay gets lost in the noise.
I think the basic premise is that the cities are subsidizing the rural areas in a number of ways, to the detriment of urbanites own values. Additionally, the Republicans demonize liberals for getting involved, when by and large we are merely mitigating the damage that Republican policies would cause.

From a strategic standpoint, I think they have very good ideas. Liberals would not have to work for the rural vote if they could acomplish two things:
1 - Make sure voters identified the GOP as the party of polluters, corporate bosses, and greedy bankers who are all from the urban areas anyway.
2 - Stem the hemmoraghing of money to the rural areas, and use it to improve life in the cities. Leave the rural areas to fend for themselves.

The effects of these policies, would be to drive voters away from the GOP and towards the cities. Dems would pick up some votes in the cities and lose a few in rural areas.Third parties would gain some votes, too. Overall the balance of power would shift away from the right. In addition, the Democrats could recapture their old image of being a protector of everyday folk from the greedy corporations.

The democrats wielded a lot of power until the generation that had first hand knowledge of the damage of robber baron policies died. If they want to regain power, they must let the red states have that experience again. Let the red states that have forgotton history be condemned to repeat it.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:48 PM on November 16, 2004


The arroganti at work....Go stuff your superiority complex where the sun don't shine.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:17 PM on November 16, 2004


Hmm, how about you move from wonderfully diverse and urban Park Slope, Brooklyn out to a more rural location, Paris? You'll sound a lot more authentic calling city folks arroganti if you don't live, you know, in an affluent part of New York City.

(Pace salsa commercial: "NEW YORK CITY??!?")

While you're at it, buy a pickup truck, shotgun and confederate flag. Tho, you might have to convert to get your neighbors to really accept you... :D

/trollsnark
posted by zoogleplex at 3:39 PM on November 16, 2004


> The real struggle is socio-economic regardless of how many wedges of religion,
> race and etc. the power brokers attempt to drive between us.
>
> Too bad so many are so easily fooled.
> posted by nofundy at 1:46 PM EST on November 16

nofundy says a nation can stand any amount of corruption as long as the wages of sin are plowed back into the economy. fuller holds nose.


> 2 - Stem the hemmoraghing of money to the rural areas, and use it to
> improve life in the cities. Leave the rural areas to fend for themselves.

Oh, I do SO agree. Put a STOP to that government-mandated flow of money from the people who have it to the people who don't. Nobody really knows what would happen but I promise to abide the outcome, whatever it is.
posted by jfuller at 4:24 PM on November 16, 2004


zoogleplex: You don't like city life? Stay rural! But, you won't make as much money, and you won't get a lot of culture and shopping etc..

I think the other side to this is that the costs of living can be drastically reduced in ways that don't sacrifice overall quality of living. There is an entire constelation of magazines that cater to the "back to the earth" homesteader willing to put in the work to create a homestead with minimal or no debt. The down-payment on many urban homes will get you the whole nine yards in some counties around here.

This was one reason why my grandparents moved from Chicago to Pike Co., IN. Even with the recession, grandpa is in the black with enough money to spare to buy a formerly leased Lincoln with cash every two years.

bashos_frog: Stem the hemmoraghing of money to the rural areas, and use it to improve life in the cities. Leave the rural areas to fend for themselves.

I'm not convinced that I take this argument at face value. For example, I suspect that a fair chunk of that money in the SW involves government-subsidized water projects that are the only thing keeping LA on the map. The money for these projects are spent in CO, NM and NV but benefit CA. New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska are states with large Native American populations which are the poorest communties in North America. Three of the states on the list are "darker" in ethnicity than the author's home city of Seattle.

Certainly, there is some pork to be trimmed. However, too much of this argument just sounds like something that the left has considered morally repugnant: class warfare. Punish the most impovrished populations in the country for not living in the right zip code. I suspect that when this is phrased as the conservative dogma that people who have money should get to keep their money, that you would be horrified.

The argument is loaded with fallacies as well. A large chunk of the traffic on the federal highway system will end up as goods and services at urban markets. Which highlights an important difference between the way rural and urban voters talk about transportation. Urban voters talk about moving their own body from home to work and back again. Rural voters tend to talk about moving value between markets.

This argument seems especially stupid to me:
This ridiculous disparity extends even to Homeland Security funds, which ought to be targeted toward the most vulnerable areas--coastlines, big city landmarks, porous borders. But landlocked Wyoming with exactly zero important strategic targets, ....

Umm, hello? In the last 10 years, terrorists have also targeted The Federal Building in Oklahoma City, hardly a coastline, big city landmark, or a porous border. If we count Benjamin Smith as a terrorist (and I don't see why not), then we add as targets a Korean Methodist Church and streetcorners in suburban Chicago. Over the last 2 years, terrorists have focused on relatively ubiquitous hotels overseas. Wyoming also has an International Airport, making it as much a part of the porous border as NY.

The basic point is, waving your hands about how one region is "subsidizing" another region by pointing to differences in per-capita expenditures is a cheap and misleading tactic without looking at how that money was spent, and who benefits from spending it. Economies stopped being self-contained within 100 square mile areas a long time ago. If you want cheap produce and agricultural products, then you have to pay for the transportation systems needed to get it to market. If you don't want for terrorists to enter the country or (worse) jack a plane from Casper, WY. You have to pay for security upgrades to airports.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:45 PM on November 16, 2004


You gentlemen (and the occasional mefi boy-zone lady) love to quote Jefferson regarding the Wall of Separation. Well, I love to quote Long Tom too:

Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781

Y'all just hang on to the money. When there's nothing down at the grocery store you can eat it (or, better yet, each other.) (N.b. I myself am not one of those chosen virtuous ones, I was but I got contaminated by snarkiness, primarily here.)
posted by jfuller at 4:46 PM on November 16, 2004


Yo-- the reason the Democrats lost was because their candidate was a stiff, New England mega-millionaire who was divorced, married late in life to a Portegeuse Widow Billionaire, and liked "extreme" sports when at his vacation homes in Nantucket and the part of Idaho where poor people aren't allowed. He also didn't have a single idea or policy proposal which he could effectively communicate to the rural and poor people who should have voted for him.

The Democrats apparently thought he was "Presidential" whatever that means, and that would be enough because the facts were on their side. Well this is TV-land, idiots, facts need not apply. They knew they had a lame candidate, so they should have gotten down and super dirty against Bush if they wanted to win, but they didn't do that either.

All this handwringing about red and blue states and why the Democrats lost (a very close election to an unpopular incumbent) is pointless to me, because it's obvious that the majorty of non-liberals and non-conservatives (basically 50% of the public) vote based on the character of the candidate, and how they can connect with them. Kerry and his campaign sucked so bad, how come no one writes a story about that?
posted by cell divide at 5:04 PM on November 16, 2004


But the people who wrote this particular editorial think that that's the only way that people want to live, or should want to live, or that it's okay to dismiss people who don't want to live that way because they obviously don't think properly.

what if they think it's the only sustainable way to live, especially with an exploding global population?

i don't know if i agree with that or not, but i am convinced that our squandering of natural resources will come back to hurt us one day.

i'm saying that the dismissal of rural life might not be about what people want, but what might be necessary in the future.

on preview: Kerry and his campaign sucked so bad, how come no one writes a story about that?

because it won't sell as many magazines as bold generalizations about the state of america and what this election means. Kerry is already forgotten.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:08 PM on November 16, 2004


"Oh, I do SO agree. Put a STOP to that government-mandated flow of money from the people who have it to the people who don't."

Taking that as sarcasm: um, aren't we supposed to be free-market capitalists here in the US? Shouldn't the market take care of the money flow from city to country? I mean, we still need to eat, so we'll have to buy our food from them...

/joking, sarcasm in response

Look, this article isn't a call for American Unity For All - quite the opposite. And if the majority of the population is in cities and metro areas, and they're getting screwed by a rural-skewed electoral system, they're allowed to push back. Cities should offer to leave the rurals alone to do whatever they want, work off whatever philosophy they want - but the price is cities keep the cultural and economic wealth to themselves. That would probably suit lots of rural people just fine... for a while.

And remember, all the banks that hold the rural people's savings and retirement accounts and mortgages are in cities now.

As far as transferring money from the haves to the have-nots, that would still happen within city limits; the taxes on rich city folk which currently get spread out to both poor city folk and poor country folk would only go to poor city folk - just supporting the local community, the same way passing a plate at the rural church supports community needy (at least in theory).

Again, I don't agree with everything about these thoughts, and it's probably needlessly divisive, but bashos-frog's summary of what the article is saying is spot on. And I think the core division there is worth examining.

on preview: jfuller, while I joked about it up top of this post, in a practical sense, money would still flow outwards to the country, because of course we need to eat and we need resources like wood and gravel and portland cement and all the various minerals. (The water issue in LA is a whole 'nother animal...) In this instance the authors are talking about redirecting funds that currently go to farm subsidies and some other types of Federal "rural welfare" support, not cutting off market-based cash flow. Of course, without farm subsidies, the big agricultural corporations would buy up most of the heartland and would be pretty much the only employers in the area, and would (under current Administration policies) probably be able to completely underpay people to work the fields, resulting in even greater dislocation in farm states. Note that this is happening anyway. This is what I mean by people who voted for Bush on religious grounds cutting their own economic throats.

Good point about the highway transportation of goods, KJS. America moves largely by truck, to be sure. This needs to be addressed somehow. Did you know that Indianapolis is the largest city in America that is not on a navigable waterway? I learned that watching football last weekend. Could be a factor...

To your point about the Oklahoma Federal Building: yes, that was a terrorist bombing... by an American white Christian who lived here in America. We don't need to attack other countries or do other things out in the world to defend from internal terrorism. That sort of thing could be handled without DHS, as it always was beforehand.

"Economies stopped being self-contained within 100 square mile areas a long time ago. If you want cheap produce and agricultural products, then you have to pay for the transportation systems needed to get it to market."

Very true. Here in CA that's not so difficult, we could actually be almost totally independent agriculturally (apart from the water issue, again), but it could be a problem elsewhere in the country. Perhaps it would be a good idea for cities to focus on ways to bring their food supply economics back within the 100-mile radius.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:16 PM on November 16, 2004


zoogleplex: To your point about the Oklahoma Federal Building: yes, that was a terrorist bombing... by an American white Christian who lived here in America. We don't need to attack other countries or do other things out in the world to defend from internal terrorism. That sort of thing could be handled without DHS, as it always was beforehand.

I guess the way that I see it is that you just missed my point in a big way. The argument regarding homeland security funds is based on the fallacy that the next terrorist attack will target in New York City, or some other major landmark. One of the major problems of terrorism is that terrorism is the strategy of working your way around gaps in your target's security. One of the reasons why the Oklahoma City bombing worked, is because after the first World Trade Center attack, the FBI building in Washington D.C., an obvious target because of the FBI's role in the Branch Davidian snafu, was highly secured and well fortified. Since 911 we have seen a shift in terrorism from airplane hijackings to car bombings of hotels that were considered to be soft targets in areas where we had not applied our attention. As a result, there is no reason to assume that large coastal cities are either an exclusive target or point of entry.

Whether we need a department of homeland security is not really relevant to this discussion. The homeland security inherited customs, and immigration. Since international flights fly into and out of Casper WY, there is a need for both of these services there.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:15 PM on November 16, 2004


Umm, hello? In the last 10 years, terrorists have also targeted The Federal Building in Oklahoma City, hardly a coastline, big city landmark, or a porous border.

Have you any idea how many federal buildings there are in New York City? There were at least 2 dozen within a 10 minute walk of my apartment.

While you make good points about security gaps, you ignore another factor - namely that terrorists look to get the most bang for their buck. Spending half a million to take out the WTC is better than spending $5000 to take out the Podunk Hotel.

You also must realize that if you wanted to protect NYC and OKC equally, you'd need to devote a lot more per capita spending to NYC.

Consider: more targets, more access points, more people, more places to hide, more easy to blend in, etc.

Wyoming gets more money because of political pull. It has nothing, zero, nada, zilch to do with real security.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:44 PM on November 16, 2004


What bashos said--it's absurd to think that all places are equally at risk. And it's immensely corrupt, and immoral to game the funding of HS the way it has been.
posted by amberglow at 7:24 PM on November 16, 2004


bashos_frog: Wyoming gets more money because of political pull. It has nothing, zero, nada, zilch to do with real security.

Real security can't be measured by per capita spending. There are lots of reasons why Wyoming got $19 million, and NY got $100 million. Part of that could be that perhaps Natrona International was severly deficient in security, while DHS inhereted a robust network of customs, coast guard, immigration and secret service agents in NYC, the Ontario border and Buffalo (sorry, it's not all about NYC.) Part of it could be that many holes in NY state security had already been covered by previous improvement efforts. Part of it could be that other agencies were already working to cover the worst of the gaps. Who knows, you can't tell by looking at the per capita numbers.

I think you also misunderstand DHS. DHS is not primarily charged with protecting targets, but with border security. As such, population is not that relevant. You would expect to pay more for the BORDERS that are at highest risk of entry, not the POPULATION that is at highest risk of attack. If you find that Bin Ladan can get through airport security in Casper, WY wearing a monkey suit and carrying a chain saw, then that is a leak you need to plug.

Now certainly, it is quite possible that the $19 million dollars that were spent in Wyoming by DHS was just political pork. However, you can't make the claim that it was pork by pointing to per capita income. Per capita income is a bullshit measure on this subject if your concern is "real security."

As an example, the problems of securing NYC as a point of entry are trivial compared to the Mexico border. If you come in through the airports, you go through customs. If you come in through the docks, you go through customs. On the Mexico border, you have hundreds of miles of relatively ungarded terrain crossed by a few dozen highways carrying more freight than the Port of New York. As you said So, wouldn't you say that in the case of New Mexico and Arizona, that you would need to pay more on a per capita by state basis to reach the same level of security?

amberglow: What bashos said--it's absurd to think that all places are equally at risk.

Straw man. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

No one in this discussion has made the claim that all places are equally at risk. The claim I am making is that the defining characteristic of terrorism over the last 100 years is that terrorists change their tactics to get around the security of their opposition. They identify the gaps and strike through those gaps.

The aeroplanes that hit NYC and DC came out of other cities. There is no way you can protect American cities from a similar attack without securing every single airport where there are large passenger jet aircraft.

And it's immensely corrupt, and immoral to game the funding of HS the way it has been.

You can't make claim that it has been gamed by looking at per capita spending. I expect there to be some states with higher per capita HS spending than NY because they have weaker borders than NY.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:53 PM on November 16, 2004


I'll be blunt. I think that we are being fucking idiots if we assume that terrorists are going to let nostalgia drive their next attack. We are talking about tactical opportunists. The next attack could just as easily be a suicide bomb on the El, or a truck bomb driven into the basement of one of a thousand fully packed luxury hotels in a city like Miami, Atlanta or Cincinati. 911 is so fixed in our minds, that we forget how terrorists have also successfully hit tourist hotels, military barracks, rail systems, luxury cruise ships and warships.

The one thing that will be predictable about the next one. We will retrace the steps they took, smack ourselves in the head and say, "dang, we should have seen that coming."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:10 PM on November 16, 2004


I'd like to see that county map with where the area of the county was scaled to population. That would be the ultimate red vs. blue map.
posted by betaray at 9:54 PM on November 16, 2004


As an example, the problems of securing NYC as a point of entry are trivial compared to the Mexico border.

And that explains why the only Germans to set foot on American soil during WWII headed for Long Island.

Your right about per capita spending not being the best benchmark*, but please...

New York has 10 cities larger than Cheyenne.
New York has 1,850 miles of coastline.
New York has a 445 mile international border with Canada.
New York has the commercial nerve center of the nation.
New York has 10 airports, Wyoming has 2**
More people live in Buffalo and Rochester than in all of Wyoming.

By almost any measure the relative amounts are crazy, and WYoming gets the least money of any state. Other states have even more pork.

*Unless you're talking about lives saved per dollar.
**This is the only area where the allocation amounts might make sense
posted by bashos_frog at 2:09 AM on November 17, 2004


And California, on that Mexican border, is getting fairly low per capita spending as well. (And as long as ther are per capita taxes, there should be some sense of proportion to per capita spending.)
posted by bashos_frog at 2:12 AM on November 17, 2004


betaray:
here
posted by bashos_frog at 2:15 AM on November 17, 2004


bashos_frog: New York has 10 cities larger than Cheyenne.

Not all that relevant from a DHS perspective.

New York has 1,850 miles of coastline.
New York has a 445 mile international border with Canada.
New York has the commercial nerve center of the nation.
New York has 10 airports, Wyoming has 2**


These are good arguments that we are talking about pork. I don't doubt that a large chunk of that 19 million is pork. But using the argument that DHS funding should be based on population rather than the severity of the problems is bullshit.

More people live in Buffalo and Rochester than in all of Wyoming.

And this is not especially relevant.

And California, on that Mexican border, is getting fairly low per capita spending as well. (And as long as ther are per capita taxes, there should be some sense of proportion to per capita spending.)

Well, that depends on what you are spending those taxes on. If we are talking about social services, then yes, there should be some proportion (*). On the other hand, some costs such as transportation and border security scale with distance rather than population.

Many of these costs for transportation and border security have benefits for people living in more developed areas. Kentucky may get more per capita in road improvements, but but, if you want a overland Canada-Mexico corridor with connections to Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo, there is not much choice but to go through Kentucky.

(*) On the other hand, I don't expect for California, home of some of the top taxpayers in the US, to have economic parity in per capita social services cashflow with Arizona, with a growing snowbird population and the economically depressed Navajo and Hopi nations. At least not in my lifetime.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:22 AM on November 17, 2004


OK we're getting into some minutiae about only one facet of the entire problem. The DHS cash outlay is a complex problem, and I think everyone commenting on it makes excellent points. Seems like the money could be better spent and pork eliminated, and also KJS's points about how security is more sensibly based on strategic entry/exit/transfer points than on population by state are solid. NYC already had an infrastructure for security, whereas Wyoming probably needed to set one up from scratch. I wonder about the necessity for an International Airport in Casper though, and how many international flights land there - my guess would be they are almost all relatively small aircraft coming in from two or three airports in Canada. Not that this is insignificant, but surely some arrangements could be made with Canadian authorities to specifically improve security on those flights.

In any event, it's only one part of the problem.

Here's a question: What are some things that "country folk" get resentful about "city folk" telling them how to deal with, and vice versa?

My example of the bear hunting above is one. What are some others?
posted by zoogleplex at 10:15 AM on November 17, 2004


KirkJob: How many flights go directly to Casper, WY? I think we can rule out the possiblity of Osama flying directly to there, when he'd have to pass through LAX, NYC or Atlanta first, with possible stops in Denver or Chicago along the way.
posted by raysmj at 1:34 PM on November 17, 2004


I appreciated the Stranger piece as a cri de couer. Of course, their target was wrong. There aren't enough Evangelicals or rural voters to elect a President, not by far.

Kerry lost because a small, but crucial, piece of the college-educated, metropolitan, upper middle class consciously dissented from the left-wing orthodoxy which most people in their demographic thoughtlessly embrace. George Bush reminds of us the lazy rich kids we didn't like in high school, too, but, guess what, we can see beyond that to what's really important.

We heretics tend to keep our head down if we have to work in Seattle or New York or Los Angeles, so you don't really see us, but we're here. Look at how much better Bush did in New Jersey and Connecticut -- where Karl Rove didn't spend a dime and there are damn few Evangelical megachurches.

And we were the margin of victory in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and we'll be the margin of victory in those states and more in 2008 if people don't get straight how to address our concerns.
posted by MattD at 2:01 PM on November 17, 2004


zoogleplex: I think it is less one telling the other what to do, and more ignorance of what is going on. For example, there are 50-80% non-white rural communities throughout the South and Southwest. Rural communities all over are dealing with ESL students as part of a migrant workforce. There is a fair amount of drug trade going on in rural communities as well. There are gay men and women in rural communities. And yet, these issues are almost always framed in the media as prototypically urban.

raysmj: How many flights go directly to Casper, WY? I think we can rule out the possiblity of Osama flying directly to there, when he'd have to pass through LAX, NYC or Atlanta first, with possible stops in Denver or Chicago along the way.

Good question. I can't find a good definition of what exactly is meant by "international airport." I'm working on the assumption that it means NCIA does get some flights that require customs certification.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:15 PM on November 17, 2004


It probably refers to some sort of import-export business. I know this is true of many smaller airports.
posted by raysmj at 5:26 PM on November 17, 2004


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