God knows I’ve done enough picking on Bob Greene to fill me up for…ever, I guess. So I’ll keep this brief, and just ask: Does someone at the New York Times feel sorry for this guy, or what?
Take today’s op-ed piece, on how Great Plains Podunks are offering free land, tax incentives and other cash and prizes for people willing to move there. Reading the first few grafs, I had a feeling what was coming, and I wasn’t disappointed:
Yet there does seem to be a danger that, by all but begging outsiders to come, the rural communities will send a false and counterproductive message: that small-town life is so undesirable that the only way to keep people is to chain them down (or bribe them). It might be better to explain to the world exactly why a placid way of life is preferable to urban cacophony and chaos — and inform the outsiders that this kind of living is so valuable, they’re going to have to pay a little extra for the privilege of moving in. Make what’s inside the tent seem irresistible — a lesson that should have been learned on the midways of every county fair there ever was.
In some of these towns, a commute to work is four minutes; crime is all but nonexistent; at night you half-believe you can look toward the soundless sky and see the outskirts of heaven. And isolation, in our age of 500 channels, of easy Internet access and e-mail, does not mean the same thing it did to generations past.
Waahhlll, yesssss, a commute to work is four minutes. The only problem is, there is comparatively little “work” there to speak of, which is why people, particularly young ones who don’t see a future in farm-implement sales, are lifting their graduation gowns and bolting for the big cities as soon as they can. Call them crazy, but it isn’t all about having a Starbucks on the corner; most people are more comforted by a regular paycheck than a starry night.
I guess it’s too much to ask where Bob Greene is living these days. Having left behind the “small town” of Bexley, Ohio, which coincidentally is fully surrounded by the somewhat less small town of Columbus, Ohio, last I heard he was still living in Chicago.