Life in the country

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

This person asserts we should leave the big cities and go where life is easy:

The “horribly stacked life” card is, in my experience, most often played by people trying to get by in the overly competitive environments of large cities. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere trying to work and live in a major city, do yourself a favor and move to a less-populated area.

My response:

If you go to rural Kentucky, you will see how wrong you are. Likewise, if you go to rural West Virginia, you will see that you are wrong.

Visit the farms in rural Arkansas, spend a few days, engage some farmhands in conversation. If you talk to at least 4 such people, then at least 1 of them will be addicted to meth. You can often detect this simply by looking at them. Often their teeth give them away.

Spend some time in rural Missouri. Go to small diners and try to engage the waitresses in conversation. If you stay a few weeks you will get to know them. You will hear stories about husbands and boyfriends who are unemployed, or who can only get sporadic work. Whole families surviving on what one woman can earn as a waitress at a small diner.

I’ve done a bit of traveling, and I’ve seen people struggling with hard times all over the USA.

And in the examples above, I’m talking about areas that are mostly white. If you really want to feel like Dante, and descend into Hell, go visit the mostly black counties in Mississippi.

For many decades now, the interior states of the USA have become increasingly poor. Wealth has been concentrating into the coasts. Farming has been mostly automated. Mining has been mostly automated. The number of coal jobs in the USA peaked in the 1940s and has declined (with some ups and downs) rather steadily over the last 7 decades.

As to automation in farming, remember that the novel “The Grapes of Wrath”, by John Steinbeck, was published in 1939. The opening scene of that novel shows us a man trying to get home to his farm (after he spent some time in prison) and finding that his family has lost the farm due to the tractors, which both reduced demand for labor on the farms, and also allowed economies of scale that caused a great consolidation of the land into bigger and bigger corporate farms.

And remember too, in 1961, Ralph Abernathy (the right-hand man of Martin Luther King) gave a speech in which he warned people “The civil rights movement is in a race with the tractors.” He meant that the tractors were rapidly replacing black labor on the farms, but the blacks had been kept out of most other professions, so it was urgent that the Civil Rights movement open up the rest of the economy to black people, before black people lost the last remaining farm jobs.

Most historians of agriculture in the USA will point to the 1920s as the era when farms hit their economic peak. The rural areas of the USA have been facing decline for 9 decades now.

I’ve tried to stick to the facts in my response. But I also want to be clear to the original writer: your advice is terrible.

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