Worse: when rural residents find it difficult to move to (or remain in) prosperous areas, policy makers can make some unfortunate assumptions: 1) the ones left behind aren't motivated enough to matter in the scheme of things. 2) the places that lack economic complexity, aren't worthy of serious consideration. How do we know those assumptions are true? No one can afford to randomly assume that citizens don't desire to take part in knowledge based challenges, just because of the ways these challenges are currently expected to occur in workplaces and marketplaces.
No society can expect to maintain knowledge based wealth, when large numbers are expected to live their lives without the economic compensation that would reward their own reasoning abilities. Yet today's knowledge use rights are mostly sealed within the confines of general equilibrium expectations. And political constituencies which normally highlight the importance of free markets and property rights, remain largely silent, regarding the support of knowledge production rights. This silence becomes all the more deafening, as knowledge takes center stage in a 21st century economy.
Regarding the rural areas which contributed to Trump's win, I was a bit disappointed with a recent post from Tyler Cowen, who responded to Tim Duy. First, from Duy's thoughtful post, which deserves to be read in its entirety:
We don't have answers for these communities. Rural and semi-rural economic development is hard. Those regions have received only negative shocks for decades; the positive shocks have accrued to the urban regions. But he at least pretends to care.What I could not understand is why Tyler Cowen, who is an economist, provided what he believed to be a useful political and cultural response (instead of an economic response) to this plight. Even though an earlier election of Mitt Romney might have meant more "common sense" than can be expected from a Trump presidency, what, specifically did that have to do with the economic situation of rural residents?
And why did Cowen think that less cultural emphasis on alcohol and drugs, could lead to crucial differences in the lives of the disenfranchised? Even though this may well be true, it does not detract from the fact both alcohol and drugs are also used as escape, from a society which has too few means for individuals to participate on economic terms. No economic terms? Few social terms, either. In such circumstance, if drugs and alcohol aren't used as escape, something else is likely to take their place.
Put simply, I had hoped for some economic reasoning from Tyler Cowen in his response to Duy, given the fact at root this situation is distinctly an economic problem. Granted, not everyone is capable of solid reasoning faculties to a degree their efforts can be compensated on a regular, ongoing basis. But most people are capable of reasoning to an extent, that many of their efforts on behalf of others, could count as an economic plus. This, instead of allowing people to languish in categories where they are "written off" as a constant negative on society. After all, the loss isn't actually "written off". Society invariably has to pay, somehow.
Why not compensate reason wherever it is possible to do so, instead of constantly denying citizens the opportunity to participate in the use of knowledge. Whenever the use of reason becomes a central part of economic frameworks, it provides means to move society forward. Meanwhile, as more people are being denied the use of their reasoning faculties, the less reasoning that societies are able to apply to the good of all, regardless of who happens to hold political offices in Washington.