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A Somewhat Strange Piece from Timothy Egan: Live From the Roasterie CXLVI: April 22, 2014

Timothy Egan: How to Heal the Heartland: "There are two big stories shaping the Great Plains...

...one of steroidal growth and disruption in the energy boom, the other of the slow death of small-town life.... The oil and natural gas bonanza has made housing in places like Minot, N.D., as competitive as rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan.... But... right down the midsection... lonely bars and empty diners, of crowded cemeteries and Main Streets where a dogs sleep away the afternoon. In Phelps, Frontier, Gosper or Gage counties, all in Nebraska, there are fewer people now than there were 110 years ago.... The impulse is either to write off the dying counties as flyover country and a buffalo commons, or to further turn them into a vast oil- and gas-producing zone. But there are other ways to a livable (and that overused word 'sustainable') tomorrow... water and immigration. The water is the Ogallala Aquifer... it’s disappearing, because of heavy irrigation.... We can’t make water. But we can slow down the rate at which we use it. The solution would involve sacrifice.... The other resource is people. Without immigrants, many of them illegal, huge parts of the prairie would be left with nothing but the old and dying.... Seventy of Iowa’s 99 counties are losing people, but you won’t hear anything about that on cable’s news wasteland. So, which is worse: a heartland in trouble, or a system where the big issues--water, land, and new blood--are not even part of a democracy’s most important contest?

Neither CNN nor MSNBC does not have a great MiniViewer in Nebraska's Phelps, Frontier, Gosper, or Gage counties. FOXNews does--but I think, and I may be wrong, that FOXNews's subscribers in Phelps, Frontier, Gosper, and Gage counties really do not want to be told that the future of their land and civilization rests on environmental conservation and immigrants from Mexico. The planes are good places to produce oil and gas, some other natural resource minerals, And staple commodity crops. All of those industries require many many fewer workers then they required a century ago. Depopulation--so that people can move to places where there are other and more things to do--makes a lot of economic and, I dare say, sociological sense.

Cable news does not discuss the big issues of the prairie--water, land, and new blood--because large majorities of the voters currently on the prairie do not want to have a discussion about those issues. So I do not understand who Timothy Egan is talking to. He seems to think that it is in some way the fault of people off the prairie--that they should make the prairie-dwellers smarten up, bringing environmentalism and diversity to them at the point of a... whatever...

But that is not the way it works. If he wants to go on a speaking tour of western Kansas and western Nebraska, more power to him. But what is the point of writing in the New York Times?

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