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America's forgotten towns

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Heather Long, Washington Post, January 2, 2018: America's forgotten towns: Can they be saved or should people just leave?

    This WP article by Heather Long caught my eye because we have extensively discussed/debated solutions to America's declining small towns in this website. And like our discussions, Long doesn't seem to present easy solutions, but rather addresses some of the ideas being bandied about by politicians and economists.

    Long makes one observation that appears to conflict with what I have pushed in the past: the need for migration from declining cities to more prosperous cities. What Long notes is that people are not migrating and the biggest reason, especially for young people, is because of "fear of the unknown". In the America that I grew up in, migration was a fact of life, and we just took it for granted that after leaving school we would be leaving the nest forever as we pursued our job prospects in cities unknown to us. Somewhere along the way that mentality has changed.

    Long cites solutions from economists like Joseph Stiglitz who is advocating transforming these towns from manufacturing towns to green or "high tech hoodie". He sounds a little bit like Hillary Clinton. However, the ultimate solution to force people to leave, she says, may lie in Trump's policies. "Scaling back welfare, especially Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance and housing subsidies might force people to finally move."

    The article is interesting reading. I am no longer offering solutions. People only believe what they want to believe, and hey I just noticed that Trump has had a big jump in his approval rating from the low 30s to 40 percent. There you go.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Especially in small towns who may have hospital services, then due to Trump's destruction of the social services including healthcare, these hospitals or medical services will leave these small towns. Furthermore there is no real job market or industry who want "uneducated" people unless the town is an farming town. Already as was shown on Vice is that "malls" are failing in those towns and are now used by skateboarders only (as well the rats) But yeah Trump will save these small towns; he alone can fix it!!
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    There are dozens of these towns spread throughout Oregon. They're former logging towns that thrived when logging was booming, but now only house the handful of remaining residents who either can't leave or refuse to leave.

    The "fear of the unknown" factor is interesting. I never really took that into account, especially since I willingly and excitedly left everything I ever knew in Illinois five and a half years ago and migrated out to Portland in search of a new life. I've also met so many other people who have done the same that I kind of took it as a fact that those who are able to move will do so.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    Probably $5000 to relocate and subsist until subsisting income s generated.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    While I love the concept of a small town.... some should die. I used to live in a nice small city 20 miles east of a very large city. A short drive to work,restaurants and shopping. When a mostly vacant small town no longer has the employment to sustain it. Time to move on. A smart investor could rehabilitated some properties if it could serve as a B & B community. Making lemonade.
  • Independent
    Washington
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:

    There are dozens of these towns spread throughout Oregon. They're former logging towns that thrived when logging was booming, but now only house the handful of remaining residents who either can't leave or refuse to leave.

    This is true in Washington state as well. I spent a few years growing in a logging community that had its hayday in the early 1900s where there were 20,000+ residents. Many stores, bars, hotels, theaters, etc. When my family moved to the community, there were less than 2,000 residents, just enough to support a 1 building school k-12. Each grade had 15-25 students. All the buildings and business from the hayday were gone, most disappeared in fires through the decades. The major employer is the school which because of state wage laws for school employees (Paid the same throughout the state), employees earned wages that allowed them to live like kings in a very economically depressed community. Hell, working at the school as a janitor or bus driver is a high paying, stable, job. Average income in the community is under 20,000 per year. Someone working at the school is likely to be making over 50,000. Teachers making significantly more.

    I went back to visit after 30 years, and it was like time-warping back. Very little had changed in 30 years. Same people, just older. The noticable differences were mainly adoption of newer technology, like having Direct TV, newer cars, remodel homes. The population was nearly the same it was 30 years ago.

    Those in my class that have had successful careers all moved away to find jobs and\or to get a high education. Those who stayed behind are those who live near poverty line.