New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has given up on helping rural whites, judging from his Tuesday column, “Getting Real About Rural America.” The text box: “Nobody knows how to reverse the heartland’s decline.” It’s so bad in the heartland that not even social welfare programs can help, so why bother?
Then he again slid in the knife against Trump-following rural nativists.
And politically, rural America is increasingly a world apart. For example, overall U.S. public opinion is increasingly positive toward immigrants. But rural Americans — many of whom rarely encounter immigrants in their daily lives — have a vastly more negative view.
Not surprisingly, rural America is also pretty much the only place where Donald Trump remains popular; despite the damage his trade wars have done to the farm economy, his net approval is vastly higher in rural areas than it is in the rest of the country.
To strengthen his attack on rural Americans, Krugman hints that social welfare programs often do no good, an interesting perspective from a liberal economist.
But as I said, experience abroad isn’t encouraging. West Germany invested $1.7 trillion in an attempt to revive the former East Germany — more than $100,000 per capita — yet the region is still lagging, with many young people leaving.
Nor, realistically, can we expect aid to produce a political turnaround. Despite all that aid, in 2017 more than a quarter of East German men cast their ballots for the extreme-right, white nationalist Alternative for Germany.
Krugman, advocate of cutting welfare? Who knew?
I’m sure that some rural readers will be angered by everything I’ve just said, seeing it as typical big-city condescension. But that’s neither my intention nor the point. I’m simply trying to get real…..