Green Acres vs. Trail of Tears

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A while back, Tim Cavanaugh blogged about the triumphant–i.e., uninteresting–return of '90s wunderkind Jedediah Purdy in the Atlantic. Purdy's piece was part of the ponderous and pontifical very special section in the latest ish on the "real state of the Union."

Purdy weighed in on the lack of trust in today's America; another '90s wunderkind, Michael Lind, tackles the pressing problem of too many poor and immigrant people living on the coasts of Woody Guthrie's homeland. They clog the roads, you see, bring down wages, and really can't afford to live where they live.

Lind's brilliant solution? Taking a page from the Andrew Jackson playbook, he suggests beneficent relocation:

Imagine a federal program that would help poor and working-class Americans to move not from crowded cities to suburbs in the same general area but from crowded states to low-density states where homes are cheaper and the general cost of living is lower. … The people who moved would not be the only ones to benefit financially. If the coastal areas did not replace those lost workers with migrants from elsewhere in the country or the world, wages there might rise as the labor market grew tight; and financial barriers to home ownership would decline even in big coastal cities.

Here's a better solution: Why not force Lind and his above-average wage-earning pals to move to Kansas, thereby creating more opportunity for upward mobility and home ownership for the urban poor?

NEXT: Words of War

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  1. Can there be an island of pundits and commentators? And a state full of nothing but social workers? Oh, and a county dedicated to diversity trainers?

    1. I’m thinking a starship. We’ll tell them that we’re filling it with the best and brightest of America and use that lie to dupe all the diversity coordinators onboard.

  2. One is reminded of that M*A*S*H episode, where, upon hearing he may be sent to Leavenworth, Charles Emerson Winchester says: “My God, that’s in Kansas!” in his best tones of Bostonian blue-blood horror.

  3. Yeah! Move ’em out to kansas so they don’t have to soil their hands with the poor, just “help them from afar”. Friggin’ do-gooders piss me off. Send them to a low density population state where the homes are cheaper and cost of living is lower? No shit. There’s no JOBS there. That’s why the cost of living and home ownership are lower. so ship them out where they can starve out of the do-gooders sight.

    That’s freakin’ GREAT!

    Idiots.

  4. It also doesn’t appear to be noticed by these idiots that a lot of times this is what happens from the free market anyway. Manufacturing companies in search of cheap labor, cheap land and low taxes often set up ‘greenfield’ plants, which once in place often attract new workers to the area. People also often choose to commute from high-dollar areas to neighboring rural areas so they can get more house for the money (I’m one of those myself). The net effect is some stabilization of housing prices and labor rates, although some differences always remain due to the tangible and intagible benefits of being close to centers of production or centers of commerce.

  5. Assuming one is going to subsidize people, there doesn’t seem to be a good argument for not subsidizing them as cheaply as possible.

    But I’m just a Kansan–what do I know?

  6. Be careful about your assumptions. A place like the metropolitan area of Kansas City really is not that different in terms of economic mechanics and disparities than the coasts. The difference is that the dollars involved are a little lower both on what is paid and what things cost.

    Nick, to think that things are somehow better here shows a great deal of ignorance. It is easy to simply poke a little fun at the underpopulated parts of the plains. Try a little harder next time.

    – A Kansan.

  7. He probably just thinks that this would switch more red states to blue.

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