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There's a simple answer...

2/13/2013

The Disenfranchisement of Rural America All the Constitutional bullshit in the world won't get rural areas back on the political map. Unintended consequences are a bitch, and if you mess around with the state or national constitution, you're going to screw it up. I guarantee. Rural America will regain its (mostly hypothetical) influence when the price of gas goes down... or they build more railroads, but I'm guessing that lowering the price of gas would be easier. Gas at $4 kills employment in rural areas. A plastic factory in a small town 30 minutes from the interstate is going to get closed by the parent company long before a similar factory right off the exit. That means the unemployment rate in the rural towns goes up. In a more urban, or close-in area, not only does an unemployed person have a better chance of getting a new job, but getting to that new job will be cheaper. The job will probably be closer, so the worker will use less gas, or there's mass transit, subsidized in part by the poor suckers in rural areas who can't use it. Rural employees get paid less money than their more urban brothers, but they aren't cheaper. When gas goes up, so does absenteeism, transportation costs, and wage pressure. When a gallon of gas costs you 30 minutes of work and health insurance the rest of the hour, you aren't driving the 30 miles to the factory in your dually every day. You're looking for more money, somewhere, somehow. If that means taking off work to help pour a foundation at the new Church of God for $300 cash under the table, sign me up. If the guy gets fired, hell, his girlfriend's a nurse or social worker or teacher, she can drive his ass to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, makes out like a bandit when gas prices are high. It's a one-stop shop. Why go to a supermarket or small business when you can go to one place and get everything you need. You may like the jeans at JC Penney's and the cold cuts at Kroger better than the Wal-Mart version, but if you have to drive an extra couple of miles on that $40 quarter tank of diesel, you'll think twice before you buy them. Eventually, the choice comes down to keeping the factory by the interstate exit open, or dealing with the pain in the ass hillbillies. It's an easy decision. Rural guys who can't find jobs can do a couple of things. They can leave, moving to less rural areas, go on unemployment or disability, or get a job on a farm. Farms rely on subsidies. Don't let the fact that farmers think they are salt of the earth, common sense, old-fashioned capitalists. They ain't. Every farmer is getting just as subsidized as the middle manager at the big city mass transit company. Maybe more so, unless the transit manager is related to a city councilman... hold it, they are all related, it's in the job description... OK, maybe not as much as a city transit manager, but maybe as much as a county emergency management director. Farmers need gas too, by the way. The more gas costs the farmer, the more subsidies they want, and the fewer legal workers they hire. The more gas costs, the less likely a legislator voted in by farmers is to reduce government spending on kumquat subsidies. For the children, and our rich farming tradition, of course. And Jesus *sings hymn*. When gas is cheap, so is food and so are employees. Formerly unemployed rural workers are a hell of a lot cheaper to hire and retain then the entitled assholes close in with their noticeable lack of desperation and their extra couple of years seniority. Not to mention rural land is cheaper land, there's a lower cost of living, usually no employment taxes, and fawning local legislative bodies willing to use every trick in the book to get their step-nephew a job so that he can move his ass out of Grammy's house. When gas is cheap farmers don't need as big subsidies because they can make ends meet in other ways... ah who am I kidding... farmers always want subsidies. But meth use goes down when gas is cheap (probably because a gallon of gas in a paper bag lasts a lot longer and used to be lot less expensive than twenty Sudafed). The easiest and safest way to enfranchise rural America is to use policy to lower the price of gasoline. Move subsidy money from funding studies on the mating habits of Nigerian Sweat Moths and Inner-City Poetry Slams to clean refinery technology. America has the oil, we NEED the gas and gasoline is practically a by-product of petroleum refining any more, it's a loss leader. Lower barriers to entry in the chemical industry, help the composite manufacturers reduce the weight of cars (thus reducing emissions), create some freakin' jobs!
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