Friday, December 05, 2003

From the Dakotas to the Texas Panhandle, the rural Great Plains has been losing people for 70 years, a slow demographic collapse. Without even the level of farmers and merchants that used to give these areas their pulse, many counties are also losing their very reason to exist, falling behind the rest of the nation in nearly every category as they desperately try to reinvent themselves.

And now a broad swath of the nation's midsection seems to have lost something else, as well: its optimism. Polls show a quiet crisis in confidence, the one thing that had seemed a part of rural American DNA. More than ever, people feel powerless to control their lives and pessimistic about the future, according to the annual University of Nebraska poll of rural attitudes.

[NYT via ABE]

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