Saving Rural America
By: Tom Chatham
Rural America is dying a slow and miserable death but only the local inhabitants seem to notice. It was happening slowly but now it is happening faster. The crown jewels of the rural areas, the graduating children, are leaving and taking their potential with them. As rural businesses shut down and opportunities dwindle, younger people are leaving to seek out greener pastures. That is a travesty for small towns and the traditions they have maintained for generations.
There are two main reasons why the youth of America are leaving small towns. One is the economy and the other is the social environment. There are no good jobs and there is nothing to do outside of work. Growing youth need to be kept busy with something and lacking that they will seek out excitement. When the community they grow up in fails to provide them with the opportunities they need they eventually leave and never come back. This is leading to ever smaller towns that are beginning to disappear as the older generation dies off.
If rural communities want to reverse this trend they will have to solve those two problems. They will need to promote locally owned businesses to provide the jobs needed to keep people from moving to cities and they will need to provide a certain amount of entertainment to keep the youth happy.
Multinational companies have stripped the economic base out of small towns as the profits from these businesses get sent to wall street instead of being held locally providing capital for growth and innovation. Smaller local operations employing 5 to 10 people can capitalize on local resources to provide good paying jobs to entice the youth so they can stay local and start a family there. Replacing a few multinational companies with dozens of local operations will make the local area more resilient during economic downturns and insure local access to products produced there.
This type of return to a local economy will happen eventually anyway if economic conditions deteriorate to the point of cutting off goods and services to rural areas. Out of necessity these areas will reconstitute an economic base to provide necessities to the population unless government gets in the way. Multinational companies will pull out and go to where the money is in the world leaving the impoverished towns in their wake after having stripped them economically.
At that point the only question is whether the town is still big enough to rebuild a local economy or if the aging population will simply see the end of the community. With no youth to help rebuild the economy it will likely signal the end.
It has been said that the most important thing a farmer raises are a set of children with a good work ethic and a set of moral values. These two things are something that the current youth is desperately missing in America. As more people migrate to larger cities to find the life they seek, their urban children are left to their own devices as both of their parents work full time to provide a home where children no longer need to have a job and are entertained by the moral codes prevalent in the urban areas. This is creating a generation of entitlement minded youths that provide little value to their communities.
With fewer of these youths growing up in rural areas, the values that helped build this country are becoming obsolete. A new paradigm is building that will ultimately tear this country apart as the old world with its traditions and the new world with its entitlements fight for control. As the song says, you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, is a lesson today’s youth will have to learn through bitter experience.
As rural areas go, so goes the nation. The destruction of our rural heritage will signal the coming of a new paradigm that is not sustainable and will provide no hope for future generations. Unfortunately, that is what certain groups are hoping for. The destruction of the nuclear family will provide a future of chaos and confusion and allow a select few to maintain power over the many. Unless there is a shift back to rural communities and local production soon, the future of this country will be very different from the past, and not for the better.