Links and Comments: Trump vs California; Rural America vs the big cities

Here’s another. Paul Krugman, Sept. 20th: Trump Declares War on California. Subtitled: “It’s a liberal state, so it must be punished.”

I’m on a number of right-wing mailing lists, and I try to at least skim what they’re going on about in any given week; this often gives me advance warning about the next wave of manufactured outrage. Lately I’ve been seeing dire warnings that if Democrats win next year they’ll try to turn America into (cue scary background music) California, which the writers portray as a socialist hellhole.

Examples about auto emission regulations, and making San Francisco’s homeless population some kind of environmental hazzard. Yes, the latter is a problem.

But in many other dimensions California does very well. It has a booming economy, which has been creating jobs at a much faster pace than the nation as a whole.

The nation’s second-highest life-expectancy; drops in the uninsured via accepting Obamacare; and crime near historical lows. The point:

[I]t’s a reality the right refuses to accept, because it wasn’t what was supposed to happen.

You see, modern California — once a hotbed of conservatism — has become a very liberal, very Democratic state, in part thanks to rapidly rising Hispanic and Asian populations. And since the early years of this decade, when Democrats won first the governorship, then a supermajority in the State Legislature, liberals have been in a position to pursue their agenda, raising taxes on high incomes and increasing social spending.

The striking thing about the right’s new focus on homelessness, however, is that it’s hard to detect any concern about the plight of the homeless themselves. Instead, it’s all about the discomfort and alleged threat the homeless create for the affluent.

Bottom line:

[I]t’s yet another illustration of the intellectual imperviousness of the modern right, which never, ever lets awkward facts disturb its preconceptions.


One more, also from about a month ago. An op-ed by Sarah Smarsh, writing from Wichita, Kan. Something Special Is Happening in Rural America. Subtitled: “There is a ‘brain gain’ afoot that suggests a national homecoming to less bustling spaces.”

I find this interesting because most prognosticators feel that the only hope for the expanding population, and the reduction of humanity’s impact on the planet’s environment, is greater density in big cities, and that small rural populations will gradually evaporate. But let’s see what she says.

First, the issue of unaffordability [inequality]:

The nation’s most populous cities, the bicoastal pillars of aspiration — New York City and Los Angeles — are experiencing population declines, most likely driven by unaffordability.

But the bottom line perhaps is:

Last year, Gallup found that while roughly 80 percent of us live in urban areas, rural life was the most wished for.

People are happier in small towns, perhaps.

The writer concludes,

We need policymakers who understand this (and care about it). Good news: Progressive Democratic presidential candidates have unveiled a spate of rural policy plans more robust than any in recent political memory. They suggest actions for which rural advocates have argued — investing in rural people and economies to lead a Green New Deal, cutting out oppressive middlemen in moving food from producers to eaters and much more.

What I see here is the attraction of most people to relatively small, tightly knit communities. And that this reflects humanity’s evolutionary heritage, in which most people, until less than 10,000 years ago, lived in small tribes of a few dozen or a few hundred. The modern cosmopolis is strange. But small communities tend to be insular and tribal, hostile to people who follow different traditions and rituals. And so there’s a tension between this innate preference in most people, and the growing population of the planet, in humanity’s future.

This entry was posted in Culture, Evolution, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.