Friday, January 7, 2011

Should Rural Communities be Subsidized?

This article describes a shortage of medical professionals in rural areas.  As someone who grew up in a rural Minnesota in a town of less than 10,000 people I really wonder whether this brain drain should be such a big concern as it is.  I am specifically referring to areas that are similar to my home town. That is, areas that are primarily resort/tourist areas with no substantial agricultural uses.  What continues to drive the existence of these areas is government support.

My home town can accurately be described as a "government town" because it has many government offices in addition to a state college; both of which provide a majority of the "good jobs" in the area.  I always found it ironic that local political representatives that claimed to be conservatives could support their own policies, in addition to the interests of their constituents as these beliefs will always be in opposition to one another.

My home town also happens to be in the poorest county in the state of Minnesota.  This is partly due to the presence of a Native American reservation, but it also has very little industry and reason for being.  What is so valuable about areas such as these that they must be subsidized by the state through programs such as LGA (local government aid) and the like?  I was raised in such an area, but as someone who no longer lives there, I am not sure what valuable cultural or political touchstones these backwaters are so wonderful at perpetuating.

The lakes, forests and protected areas are some of the best things about living in a subzero-temp rural community.  And so, because the presence of people and commerce in these areas have the ability to denigrate these qualities, why should we encourage the services that allow people to live there full-time?

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