Trump Cannot Easily Fix Rural America: Here's Why

This article was first published by me on Talkmarkets:

Donald Trump campaigned on being able to give hope to rural America. But his task is monumental. I grew up in rural America, in the oil patch. As fields diminish production, the rural industry impacts the areas for years. Oil was a lucrative business for small towns in central California, but in Coalinga, California, the fields are facing depletion.

The petroleum industry was declining in Coalinga when oil prices were high. Now they are in decline as prices have declined. Coalinga had options, and prisons and a mental health hospital keep the town going. However, in other towns, such as those involved in logging, towns in Northern California, Oregon and Washington, there were few options for replacing the logging industry that moved offshore.

Google Map Screenshot Shows County Unemployment Above National Average in Red

And of course, that is the problem with much of rural America, the main industry is irreplaceable. As we see in the screenshot of a Google Map, above average unemployment has engulfed the rural South. And in Pennsylvania, and Michigan we see just a few areas that traditionally go Democratic but have lost rural employment at above average rates. Hillary's people should have taken a good hard look at this unemployment map!

Tim Duy is an independent economist. He has written a sobering blog post regarding these rural areas in America. Tim said this: 

"Trump is speaking to all of these workers, not just the trade-impacted workers. And you can complain that they don’t matter, they aren’t high-skilled workers, that the economy is shifting away to urban areas, that they should just move. In the rural Oregon case, you can add in that the big (and labor-intensive) trees were almost gone anyway, that technology was taking over at the logging site and at the mill, that falling transportation costs meant you didn’t need to mill locally.
None of that works because all you are doing is telling people they have no value relative to the lives they knew.
We don’t have answers for these communities. Rural and semi-rural economic development is hard. Those regions have received only negative shocks for decades; the positive shocks have accrued to the urban regions. Of course, Trump doesn’t have any answers either. But he at least pretends to care."
Duy goes on to say that Trump can't fix the problems of economic shocks occurring in rural America, but that the only other answer is a bigger safety net. Those independent rural Americans and their parents and their children know that work is the only moral answer, not a safety net. 
The rural folks want the industries restarted. In one rural Oregon town, Sweet Home, department stores have been replaced by pawn shops. There is hope that logging can be replaced by other industry related to the area.
An old article from Reuters sums this all up. The rural towns find it hard to diversify. Their shocks hurt for years. Diversification is only available only to some of the rural populations hit by high unemployment and the ending of that one industry that held the town together. 
I believe Donald Trump cares about this issue. Or, at least he has pretended to care. But the ideas are not yet there to fix the problem of rural decline. Some rural areas have moved to marijuana production. The City of Coalinga has converted a local small prison into a marijuana production facility run by Damian Marley, the son of Bob Marley. 
But Donald Trump has shown little sympathy for a legal marijuana trade, and these moves could all one day be shut down. Maybe his love for rural America will trump his dislike for the marijuana industry. Time will tell. 


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