My iPad ran out of juice when the forum on rural America started, so I’m going off my memory here. Apologies in advance if this seems somewhat incomplete.
Jay Nordlinger was the moderator again, with Kevin Williamson, Reihan Salam, Victor Davis Hanson, and David French on the panel. I’ll address the issues they raised as they float up from the murk and mire in my brain.
Kevin Williamson raised the point that I found most interesting — in large part because I’ve made the same argument repeatedly here — which is that part of America’s rural problem is lack of geographic mobility; or, more accurately, the fact that many unemployed people remain that way because they refuse to leave their homes for better economic opportunities.
Before I get to what Williamson said, I’m going to back up to the argument I’ve made here since 2008. My friend of mine, through a series of spectacularly unwise investments in real estate, by 2009 ended up almost in an area that had formerly been a real estate boom town.
This friend could have relocated to a region where there was work to be had. After all, up until the 1960s, that was the American way, starting with those people who left their home countries for America in the first place.
Rather than following American tradition, though, my friend opted to stay put because she could get by on public and private charity. That is, because she was ready to embrace a rather marginal existence, she opted to drop out of the marketplace.
I was therefore delighted to have Williamson remind me of an article he wrote some years ago in which he said that there are towns in America that should just be abandoned. The citizens in these towns may have been unemployed for generations (something more true for the men than the women), are often substance abusers, and have no work ethic or skills.