Confronting Urban vs. Rural Prejudices

Not wanting to derail a different topic, I pulled out these two comments to start a new one.

Just because some talking head says something about their own group, or disparages some other group, that does not make it so. I am a rural liberal. Yes, it’s shocking, but we exist. I have a BS in Psychology and work for the juvenile court system. I am pro-Biden and anti-Trump. I don’t know that my neighbors think of cities as “hellscapes”. Rural people go there all the time to attend concerts, shop, visit the zoo, etc. They see value in cities, they just don’t choose to live there.

I am curious what makes a rural community be seen as “poorly run”. I grew up in a small rural town (population: 3000) with a liberal arts college attended by a lot of students from St. Louis and Chicago. It wasn’t a particularly redneck place. I currently live in the country 15 miles away from a small city (population:40k) which is about 5 hours south of Chicago. Unemployment here is low. There’s a hospital, a community college, and a Catholic university. Other towns in the area also have colleges and hospitals. A locally owned grocery chain runs 80+ stores in four states. A local manufacturer builds custom work truck beds that are sold all over the US. I am a member of a rural electric cooperative, which means I am one of the communal owners of my own power company. (Kinda communist, eh?) I am also a member of a rural telephone cooperative, which means I am a communal owner of my own 100% fiberoptic telephone and internet provider. None of the big power or telecommunications companies like to invest much in building or maintaining systems in the country because their profit margins are not high enough, so rural people often build their own. The food that is eaten in cities primarily comes from rural areas. I own about 10 acres of farmland that produces corn and soybeans that is mostly used for animal feed. I also own about 10 acres of forest where deer, rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, and other critters live. I don’t hunt or cut logs. I am supporting wildlife, sequestering carbon, and producing oxygen.

What subsidies do I or my neighbors “take, take, take”? If anyone has their own viewpoints on what I think are prejudices based on stereotypes, I am curious to hear them. I may agree with some things that are brought up, and disagree with others. Who thinks cities/rural areas are hellscapes/paradises? Who thinks they are all just places people live, although some live closer together or further apart than others?

I’m often confused by what people mean by rural. Very often it seems as though the suburbs are counted as rural areas and I’m hard pressed to think of places like Plano, Texas (pop. 259,000) as rural.

Wonder how city folk would feel if the rural people stopped growing their food. I live in a city but am actively looking to move to acreage because I am tired of the restrictions inherent in having neighbors in your back pocket all the time. I find the downchecks of rural life to be less onerous than the downchecks of city life and that’s fine, not everyone shares my viewpoint. Trying to turn it into a slapfight to continually set citizen against citizen strikes me as the kind of tactic a corporate oligarch would emply and exploit and I don’t trust those fucks any further than I can throw them. I don’t think I’ll be less of a pinko progressive no matter how far into the boonies I go.

No, that’s why we rely on data.

It is a fact that urban areas pay more into federal and state taxes than they get in return, and rural areas pay far less into federal and state taxes than they get in return.

Rather than go into great detail with cites and all on this round, I’ll just invite you to take a look at this for now, and see what questions you have.

And as you say, not only do rural people get subsidies out of cities, they also get services and entertainment out of them.

Right, which is why I pay a tax on my internet service to subsidize yours.

I’ve gone down this road before, and I really should have bookmarked the cites, as I don’t really have time right now to go hunting them down. But, you take subsidies for the services that you cannot pay for yourself. Your hospital is not supported by your community, your college is not either. The streets that you drive on are subsidized by the state and maybe the federal government.

You have a major city in your state, that helps to pay for all the things that your community cannot afford to pay for itself.

You are an exception. If you look at a map of rural counties, they went overwhelmingly for Trump.

I also know people that live in the city that are very pro-Trump anti-Biden.

That would be my perspective.

That’s a good question. The place that I grew up was rural, but now is suburbia. Where I sit right now running my business was a field less than 20 years ago.

Who are they going to sell it to? If they are not getting subsidies to not grow food, won’t they just go bankrupt?

I agree, and as someone who lives in a more urban environment, I have no problem with how people in rural areas live. I don’t have a problem using the economic powerhouse of our cities to help to subsidize the lifestyles of those who prefer less onerous downchecks.

The only thing I have a problem with, is after all that, is that those in the rural areas then have an outsized control over what those in cities do. They are the ones initiating the slapfight when they insist on how cities are to be run.

Nonetheless there does not appear to be any rural county that had no Biden votes. The highest numbers for Individual-ONE were in the Llano Estacado region (from north Texas up into western Nebraska, once known as “no man’s land” or the Dustbowl) where percentages can run into the 90s. But there are still some blue votes there, just as deep blue counties still have some red votes.

I looked at some numbers and concluded that, in the 34 solid states that were regarded as uncontested, at least thirty two million voters (more than a fifth overall) voted against the grain in their state, knowing that their vote would be little more than an opinion in the outcome (technically speaking, a fart in a haboob).

The wealth of the urban/suburban areas is dependent on the resources of the rural areas, and a large fraction of rural areas would do poorly without the redistribution of product that cities provide. As SmartAleq says, the division between us appears to primarily serve the needs of the (urban-based) corporatocracy.

The urban-rural “divide” is fundamentally a myth which the right has rhetorically manufactured, and cultivated to the point where it has now become a self-fufilled fiction. It has no material basis. It’s the result of media propaganda, exploited most of all by the Republican Party to win elections, very successfully.

In order for it to work, really only the “rural” part have to accept and embrace the conceit of this myth. As long as they believe it, it will work for the right. It doesn’t really matter what the “urban” part thinks.

There is no material justifcation for this “divide.” A Walmart worker in Pico-Rivera has all the same interests, and lives in the same conditions, as a Walmart worker in Benton Arkansas. So, the key for the Republicans, is to make them believe that there is difference, and then exploit that make-believe.

First off, money is a construct. It is much more possible for a rural person who grows food to make themselves basically self sufficient and the only money they would technically need would be for taxes–MMT points out that this is the only actual federal use of taxes, to create a demand for the sovereign currency that cannot be fulfilled in any other way. Everybody needs to eat so finding someone to sell your foodstuffs to is easier than it is for a deep urban person to figure out how to grow enough food so’s not to need the local supermarket. And if you’re getting subsidies, you aren’t really growing food, you’re growing ethanol, stock feed and high fructose corn syrup. Yes, that’s a simplification but there’s a lot of truth to it.

Sustainable small farms are making a big comeback and are, acre for acre, much more productive of actual FOOD (and more profitable) than the giant monoculture factory farms that are completely reliant on outside inputs and GMO seed to produce at all. That is no way to run agriculture and yet here we are. The more people who go back to growing in intensive self sufficient small farms the better off the planet will be.

And inner city types will continue to fall all over themselves paying a premium for small farmed produce and grass fed meat–urban and rural are symbiotic and the more we remember that and keep in mind that policies that work for city dwellers can be and often are disastrous for the country folk AND VICE VERSA we’ll all be much better off.

I’m not sure if you do, unless you live in Illinois. I looked through the Brookings article, and it does not specify who the federal money is being dispursed to. The only company/agency mentioned in passing was TracFone. Is the federal money being used to entice for-profit telecommunications companies to install or upgrade services in rural areas?

I don’t know that my local cooperative gets ongoing federal support. They did get a one-time $4.9 million grant that starts next year from the State of Illinois to cover a little less than half the costs of installing fiberoptic broadband in several rural communities outside the cooperative’s service area.

Internet in the country? Check out Hermiston, Oregon, which crunched the numbers and figured out that putting a strong wifi cloud over 700 square miles was the least expensive option for the area. So some dude out plowing his field can and does have better internet access than a whole lot of city folk. It’s purely a matter of how a region decides to go about things and the individual subscriber model that works in a city is not the only way to do things. Shit, I’ve heard estimates that it would take only a billion dollars or so to put the entire continental US under a wifi cloud that would allow stranded motorists a million miles from nowhere still make phone calls for help. The only reason it hasn’t happened is that the telecom giants throw so much money out there to protect their monopoly that any movement toward something more egalitarian is smothered in the cradle. Corporatism is the death of innovation.

People who voted for Trump in part because of the unrest in cities this year were generally people who do not actually live there. If you do not fall into the category of people I have described you shouldn’t take my observation personally.

Rural America gets to live the kind of life that urban America does because urban America pays for their roads, and their schools, and their hospitals, and their police, fire, and EMT services, for their mail delivery, for their phones, and their electricity. Rural America gave their votes to Reagan and the republicans and they lost their farms so now they are all sharecroppers for Big Agriculture. Urban America has problems because we waste so much money on the ingrates in rural America who stand in the way of progress and back incompetent corrupt politicians.

So if you are a liberal in rural America then don’t do the same thing the rest of your rural comrades are doing and blame urban America. Blame your friends and neighbors.

Has the exploitation and exacerbation of the perceived differences between ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ always been as bad as in the last four years ? Has it ever been this bad ?

Just as many thing conspired to create the segmentation of the TV news media (better data > more targeted customers > more targeted and cost-effective advertising > increased ad revenues), finding the crack and knowing where to put the pry bar achieves similar pecuniary objectives for marketers and politicos.

But … IMHO … the pry bar – at least in the last four years – was put at the edge of urbania and pried toward ruralia.

I heard a lot more propaganda about the way city folk were going to decimate the lifestyles of rural folk (reminiscent of the Civil War), and the notion that city folk were openly hostile to Every Single Value that rural folk held dear … than I ever heard in the reverse.

In other words … the last four years were the worst battles in the culture war that I can remember.

Wisest statement I ever heard came from my mother a couple years ago:

The older I get, the more I realize how much we’re all being manipulated.

I’m no Pollyanna, but I want to quote George Carlin here:

“People are wonderful. I love individuals. I hate groups of people. I hate a group of people with a ‘common purpose’. 'Cause pretty soon they have little hats. And armbands. And fight songs. And a list of people they’re going to visit at 3am. So, I dislike and despise groups of people but I love individuals. Every person you look at; you can see the universe in their eyes, if you’re really looking.”

Koombaya :wink:

Having lived almost my entire life in suburbs - only 2 years in rural upstate New York and a few months in cities themselves - which side generally understands the other side better?

Do urbanites understand the rural plight better or do ruralites understand city problems better?

The people who think they are hotbeds of anarchy and rioting sure do.

I don’t think rural areas tend to be run more or less competently than cities. But it is easier to run them efficiently when you are being subsidized. In addition to the aforementioned ag subsidies, you have an aging population that gets Social Security injections which represents a transfer of wealth from urban to rural areas. They spend that money locally adding to the economy and taxes. In addition, poverty is higher in rural areas so they also receive a transfer of wealth via welfare.

Which isn’t to say that people can’t live where they want or that poor people should not be helped out. But lots of people who look around at their own small community which appears to be doing quite well, thanks, without having sky high taxes like they do in the corrupt, incompetent, and spendthrift city should look at why they can afford to be so well-run.

Sure, there are more pro-Trump people than anti-Trump people in rural areas, and those proportions are reversed in urban areas. I see people here flying Trump banners off the back of their combines while harvesting their fields and driving around in “Trump Trains”. However, my wife’s uncle, who is a corn, bean, and cattle farmer in his early 70’s, loves Bernie Sanders. (He farms the tillable ground on my property.) My wife’s grandmother, who is 97, calls Trump “Little Hitler”. She was in her late teens/early twenties in the WWII era. She remembers Hitler and Nazism. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “all rednecks are alike”. Don’t let politicians or media talking heads use tribalism in order to set people against each other unnecessarily. Ally with your rural liberal brethren! :grin:

Getting paid to not plant crops: That may happen sometimes or somewhere, but I haven’t seen it where I live for at least twenty years. Every field gets planted every year, unless there is some sort of extended weather problem that prevents planting, and farmers buy crop insurance for that.

I don’t farm. I don’t know all the economics of farming. Small-scale family farms do seem to be a low profit-margin and high-risk enterprise. If the small farms were able to get more honest value for their products, rather than the middlemen and big corporations reaping the profits (see what I did there), the small farms wouldn’t need as much aid from federal programs. The movements pushing sustainable farming might help increase small farm profits and reduce the need for federal aid, too. If we abandon small farms entirely, we would still need to grow food, and would have to rely solely on corporate industrial agriculture. Many people might prefer the practices on small farms rather than corporate farms. When looking for information about how much federal farm aid actually goes to small farms, and how much goes to industrial agriculture, I came across this article: Alarmingly, COVID-19 Relief Funds Prop Up Factory Farming | ASPCA
It might need to be taken with a grain of salt, because the ASPCA could be biased, but the Cory Booker & Ro Khanna “Farm System Reform Act” it mentions does sound interesting. I need to read more about that.

Farmers can use various smart gadgets in their tractors that compare satellite maps, GPS coordinates, and data from previous years to know which parts of their fields produce more grain or have more problems with weeds/insects, and the on-board systems use that information to more precisely control the application of agrichemicals in real time as the tractor drives back and forth across the field. For example, they supposedly have less waste by applying the optimal amount of fertilizer to different parts of the field as is actually needed, and have improved crop yields.

The cost of living is lower in rural areas. The Social Security and Medicare benefits stretch further in rural areas. Is it more cost effective for them to stay where they are, or less? Would big cities really want more poor and elderly (and likely Republican) citizens? :smile:

I think anyone who hasn’t done both is going to be pretty clueless about the one you’ve never tried before. But overall I think urbanites are more clueless about rural life for the same reason why blacks know more about whites than vice versa, and why women know more about men likewise–the smaller and more marginalized group HAS to know more about the larger group because those groups dominate the conversation, the available entertainment, etc. They just take up more room overall.

I live in Portland OR and the majority of people who breathlessly inform me that my city is “on fire” tend to be other city denizens who simply can’t accept that unless you’re right around about five or six city blocks you’d never know anything is going on.

On the other hand, when rural people tell me they can’t stand the crowds, traffic, trash, crime and homeless camps in Portland my only response is “yeah, same here.” It’s not unrest and rioting that makes Portland a hellscape, it’s the fucking cops. Either they’re killing people, trying to kill people or refusing to do a fucking thing about the crime that is literally their primary job then whining about it. I think the fact that rural people are all supportive of cops is because they’ve never had to deal with ours–if their cops acted like our cops do they’d fucking hate them too. So that is one area where the rural people are pretty out of touch with what city life is like.

I’ve never been to Portland. I would probably like it. I’ve been to Seattle a couple of times, and thought it was nice.

I wonder if rural cops don’t have a big enough tribe to form their own subculture. In a small city, a lot of the residents know most of the cops by name, and socialize with them at community events, in bars, etc. It may lead to less “us versus them” mentality.

I’m not sure agriculture is terribly relevant to this discussion. Only a small percentage of people in rural areas are employed in agriculture. Like 10%, if it’s even that high.