Monday, September 24, 2007

3 issues starting with "Probably those boots"

Reading the Engel article reminded me of one my favorite moments when I lived in Madison in the mid 1990s. This was before September 11, and airport security was much more lax than it is today. At the Dane County Regional Airport, I walked through security and the metal detector went off. The guard didn't even get up. He looked at me, said "Probably those boots" and waived me through. I was wearing steel-toed workboots, and a guard working at a regional airport in a rural state probably had many pairs of workboots set off the metal detector every week. Engel talks about how locals settle disputes out of court when other locals are involved. I also have the anecdotal impression that how people in rural areas choose to enforce laws is based at least partially on whether they believe that the laws have value to the local community. This would mean that federal laws are given the weight the local communities feel they deserve. The idea that I might have been smuggling a weapon on a plane as well as wearing farm boots did not seem to cross the guard's mind at that time. It may have been that it was (at least in his mind) out of the realm of possibility for locals.

During Morning Edition on NPR this morning, they were discussing Dell's announcement that they have created a PC to market specifically in rural China as part of their overall strategy to increase sales in China past their current 10% market share. Lenovo (a Chinese company which includes the former PC division of IBM) has announced their own low cost computer for the rural market that will use a person's TV as a monitor. Back to the anecdotal: when I was last in Wisconsin, the July 4th barbecue (all the brats cooked in beer that you can eat) included a teacher who was excited about the new iMac she had bought, but frustrated because it came without a modem and her area only had dialup access. She found that her old modem was not USB and could not be used with the new machine. As a rural customer, she was frustrated that she would have to pay extra to buy an additional modem just to get lower quality Internet service than everyone at the party. Clearly, the computer industry is not as focused on the needs of rural America as they are on the needs of rural China.

Finally, on the subject of abortion, the great state of Missouri has passed a law that requires locations that perform 5 or more abortions per year to register as ambulatory surgical centers, which requires them to meet a higher set of safety standards. NPR's Morning Edition discussed the impact of this law and the lawsuit to enjoin it. If not enjoined, the law could force the closure of all but one of Missouri's available clinics which perform abortions. One clinic claims that it would cost over a million dollars to bring the clinic into compliance with the new law. For those who are interested in the fair and balanced approach, Operation Rescue has a different take on the new law.

1 comment:

Lisa R. Pruitt said...

Your observation that we may have become more attuned as a nation to the needs of rural China than to our nation's own rural populace is a telling and important one.