The epic challenge of keeping small Midwestern towns alive
The enormous success that is modern agriculture means that we need far fewer people than ever before to produce much greater amounts of food. While that's a very good thing for society, it has consequences: One of those is the depopulation of rural areas. Those places without a lot of people are essentially "leaking" their populations, largely to bigger cities nearby, because that's where the jobs are. The epic question for states like Iowa and its neighbors is how we can concentrate our resources so that we don't end up with desolation in those places "in-between". Given the right mixture of access to technology, transportation, and a good business environment, there are excellent cases to be made for economic growth in many small towns. They can offer outstanding quality of life with an exceptionally low cost of living, for starters. But some decisions have to be made along the way about how to let the market make the allocation decisions without starving communities of the resources they need to provide the basic services (like roads and clean water and fire protection) that are non-negotiable requirements of modern living.
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