Saturday, August 18, 2007


This article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the recent boom in corn country from a very human perspective. In light of increased income, what do the "folks" in farm country do?

Modesty seems to be the theme. That is, huge homes, expensive cars, and the luxuries of the urban scene apparently aren't attractive. "This cultural distaste for showiness" is something I grew up with, and I think it quite proper. And it is socially enforced on the rural landscape. As the article mentions, "fences exist only for livestock." That is, one cannot wall himself off into a community of "haves," but he is rather continually reminded of the have nots who populate his daily life. Does this foster a sense of empathy and social responsibility? It may. But, of course, it may not. I tend to think that it does, but my evidence is purely anecdotal. In any event, the sense of community that grows on the plains may be fostered by the simple fact that the population won't support drawing the lines in a more deleterious fashion.

Of course, from my experience, modesty in the agricultural setting is fostered by the uncertainty associated with the risks that are an inherent part of ag production. Too many have seen it all slip away (from themselves or from others). The pessimistic sense that this brings about is counter balanced by the optimism that times like now foster. But even those in a time where optimism should dominate are wary. The farmer sees risks when times are good and hope when times are bad, and remains at all times modest. But the work, of course, is there every day.

Well, enough of that. Back to work.


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