Saturday, April 12, 2008

Not Everything is Coming Up Roses in Rural America

By now, everyone who has had their TV on has heard some of the "back & forth" between Hillary and Obama about how she thinks that he was demeaning in his description of rural voters. It made me think about the time in 1996 when the country was back to work and interest rates were on their way down. Then, someone asked me why was it that middle class voters weren't feeling secure? "Afterall, they are back to work," said my friend.

My answer then was that even though people were back to work, they hadn't paid off their credit cards or replenished their savings back into the bank, so they were still behind. In some cases, what "back to work" meant was that they were employed, not that they were employed in as good of jobs as they had when they were laid off during the Bush and Reagan years.

Now, those good jobs are still gone. It's a long time.

I think about where we are now -- 12 years later, good jobs gone, unemployment rising, shaky stock market, unbelievably high gasoline prices, kids in rural areas signing up to go to war with the hope that their gamble allows them to come home safe and go to college. And I think about some of my friends ... aging prematurely, working too hard ... working just to make ends meet .

It's true that "bitter" is kind of a tough word, so maybe better words to have used would have been "tired" or "worn out" ... "dreams gone". Thinking realistically, a lot of rural folks have lost their dream in these last 25-30 years ... suffering through the "farm crisis of the 1980's" and communities losing plant after plant of good union jobs moving overseas. And now, we've also got another mortgage lending crisis on our hands, too, so -- no, everything isn't coming up roses in rural America and from our view point, it's a good thing when political leaders start recognizing it.

Read "Clinton" and also "Obama" to see for yourself how the story continues.

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