Friday, October 4, 2013

"Rural" attitudes toward the government shutdown

James Stewart for the the New York Times reports in today's business section under the headline, "In Rural Iowa, Spending, Not Shutdown, Raises Worry."  Stewart tells of time spent this week talking to voters in Iowa's Fourth Congressional District, which he describes as "a sprawling, mostly agricultural region that runs from Sioux City [population 82,684], on the Nebraska border, to Mason City, close to Minnesota."  It is an apparently notoriously conservative district, as evidenced by the fact its congressman is Steve King, a staunch critic of Obama and the Affordable Care Act.  Here's an excerpt from Stewart's story that helps explain why so many Iowans aren't troubled by the government shutdown: 
Iowa has been enjoying unusual prosperity in recent years, with low unemployment, high commodity prices and strong exports of agricultural products and machinery. “When your stomach is full and things are going well, it’s easy to say we have to get these guys under control,” said Stan Speer, president of American State Bank in Sioux Center [population 7,048]. “If we had another agricultural crisis like we had in the 1980s, it would be a whole different story.” He said that loan demand had been strong at his bank, but a continued shutdown would begin to affect construction projects that depend on federal programs. “With winter coming, any delay could have a big impact,” he said. “Then, people may start feeling differently.”
On the other hand, Stewart also reports on the effects for some who are feeling the effects of the government shutdown, and they happen to be in the more rural reaches of the state:
Even in rural Charles City [population 7,652], far from the paralysis in Washington, some people are feeling the effects. Timothy Fox, executive director of the Charles City Development Corporation, said he was troubled that his son’s trip to Effigy Mounds National Monument had been canceled. Government, he said, is “like electricity — you don’t notice it until you don’t have it.”
The NYTimes ran this story about 10 days ago, in the run up to the shutdown, featuring voter attitudes in Northwest Arkansas, which is also quite conservative.  (They have elected a Republican to Congress for some five decades, even as most of Arkansas has voted Democratic until recent elections).  Manny Fernandez's  story, "In Corner of Arkansas, Frustration but No Panic Over Possible Shutdown," dateline Bentonville, Arkansas, population 38,284, features mostly urban/metropolitan voters in the city best known as home to Wal-Mart's "home office."  Although the area is still popularly thought of as hillbilly territory (read more here and here), it is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States.  Also in Benton County, however, are areas like Decatur, Gravette, and Siloam Springs, populations 1,699, 2,325, and 15,039 respectively. Here's a quote from Gravette resident, Johnny Alfrey, age 67, about the looming shutdown:
Wolf’s been called so much. I don’t think they’ll shut it down. But they won’t get anything solved, that’s what I think.
Later in the story comes this from and about Mr. Alfey and his friend, Robert Walker, 66: 
“People’s too worried about putting food on their table and gas in their tank,” Mr. Walker said of why people had not been concerned about a possible shutdown. Both men worked at the same factory before retiring. Mr. Alfrey considers himself a Republican and Mr. Walker an independent. 
“I was a die-hard Republican up to about 12 years ago, and now I’m for neither one of them,” said Mr. Walker, who lives in Siloam Springs. “Neither one of them agree on anything. It’s not Republicans against Democrats. It’s the government against the people.”
There you have it:  a little home-spun wisdom from rural (but metropolitan) Arkansas.

Meanwhile, this story tells of a few states' requests to the Dept. of the Interior to use state funding to keep national parks open--including Arizona's request regarding the Grand Canyon National Park and South Dakota's request regarding Mount Rushmore National Monument.  These national parks are symbols of their respective states and attract vast sums of tourism revenue, including to the states' rural reaches.  The DoI rebuffed both states' requests.  

1 comment:

Taylor Call said...

I remember when they barricaded some of the national monuments so that the public could not access them. Even ones that were usually open 24 hours. Rand Paul tweeted: "@BarackObama sent 7 security guards to #WWIIMemorial this AM to keep out our vets. Sadly, that is 2 more than were present in Benghazi."

I have a problem with the government "shutting down" what is public property, especially the sites that can be visited for free. As for the national parks, they are supposed to be owned by the people, but I guess we learned that it is actually the government that owns them. This kind of political maneuver is part of what is eroding the public's trust in our own government. No party should ever punish the public to try and gain political advantage, especially by doing something this silly.

See article here: