Weekend Roundup: Winning Rural Kansas

Licking Valley Courier flattened in storm • South Carolina to be hurt most by rising gasoline prices • Rural men least likely to seek mental health care


reports in The State newspaper:

The rural poor also usually have to drive farther than city dwellers to reach jobs, shopping and school, which increases the impact of gas prices, said Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner.

Spending a higher percentage of their income on gas means residents of the rural South generally have less to spend on eating out, purchasing electronics or buying a new home. That ripple effect hurts the broader economy.

• The ability of the East Coast press to misunderstand the size of the rural vote is always part of the coverage of a presidential election.

In an article titled “Who Will Win Rural Kansas?” a Washington Post writer notes that in 2008 44 percent of Kansas’ general election voters “hailed from rural areas.” We doubt that, since 35 percent of the state’s population is rural.

The reporter, Felicia Sonmez, also writes that 50 percent of the vote in the GOP caucuses in Iowa came from rural residents. In fact, it was 41 percent. She is getting her numbers from the exit polls, which consistently overstate the number of people living in rural communities. We count votes from rural counties.

Still, 35 percent is quite large. The Kansas caucuses will be today, Saturday. 

The New York Times, here, has a better representation of the rural and urban vote in Kansas. 

• Indian Country Today reports of a “firestorm” in Indian Country over $13,500 hunts of white buffalo at a Texas ranch.

James Swan, a Cheyenne River Sioux tribe member and President of the United Urban Warrior Society, described the role white buffalo play in the spiritual life of Native Americans:

“In our Lakota ways our creation story starts with the white buffalo. Over the centuries the white buffalo, to us, is a very sacred part of our culture and part of our spirituality. Our people didn’t have a written language. Everything was passed down through stories over the centuries and white buffalo was a center part of everything we do.”

The Texas Hunt Lodge has been advertising the white buffalo hunt for three years without incident. After the uproar, however, the lodge stopped offering the hunt.

• Men from rural areas are more resistant than men from urban communities to seek professional help for mental health problems, according to a new study out of Iowa State University. 

The study found that rural men were twice as likely as those in the cities to “conform to traditional masculine norms…which led to concerns about (mental health) treatment.”

• Dave Andrews, the former executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, writes in the National Catholic Reporter that federal “antitrust efforts have gone in dustbin of history.”

Brother Dave is referring to the meetings and hearings held by the Obama administration about possible violations of antitrust laws in the ag business. He writes:

The Obama administration lifted up hopes and dashed them to the dustbin of history. While they quote Teddy Roosevelt, they failed to follow through, a terrible and historic defeat at the hands of the corporate meat industry. Despite our appreciation of Roosevelt’s trust-busting, those of us seeking a just food system will have to work harder now that this government’s effort to occupy the food system has collapsed.

The hand-waving and booming threats of this administration on challenging inequality in the marketplace sound rather hollow to me. The example of these antitrust efforts gives me no hope in this government’s capacity to effectively lead the charge.

• Good analysis here of the Rural Jobs Accelerator competition. 

• Save The Post Office has done the math and the savings promised by the Postal Service in closing 223 sorting facilities aren’t showing up.

The Postal Service says it can save a net $2.1 billion a year by closing the sorting facilities. But in the facility-by-facility studies, Save the Post Office finds that the savings are closer to $720 million.

•Chuck Hassebrook has dropped out of the contest for the open Senate seat in Nebraska. 

Hassebrook, the former head of the Center for Rural Affairs, jumped in the race to replace Sen. Ben Nelson, who is retiring. But when former governor and senator Bob Kerrey got into the race, Hassebrook quickly decided to leave. This week he left the race, endorsing Kerrey.

Hassebrook said he planned to return to the CFRA, according to the Omaha World-Herald.