Monday, April 4, 2011

Something interesting (to me anyway)

There's a survey on Facebook where you have to note every state that you've been in (feet on the ground--flyover and drive-throughs don't count).  A friend of mine, the high-speed rail proponent, has been feet on the ground in three states--New York, Massachusetts, and Florida.  I'm betting he wasn't even in upstate New York either, but in The City.  So if that's all you've seen of the United States, I'm thinking that would limit your perspective somewhat as to the needs and attitudes of other parts of the country. 

I've LIVED in four times as many states as he's visited and have visited twice again as many as that.  So I feel I've seen a fair chunk of America (there are still places I want to go or places I want to see again, though).  I like to think (maybe it's hubris on my part though) that it's given me some perspective.  I've often wondered, especially when I was living in Pennsylvania, how the hell a federal system could work since each state (as well as portions of a state) have such differing attitudes, customs, and even terminology for common items.

My experience leads me to think that an overweening system is doomed to fail--you can't control everything and everyone.  What will fly in one state will be soundly rejected in another.  In some states there is more of a libertarian frame of mind, in others, people want to be taken care of by the government (federal, state, local, they don't care).  Most federal politicians don't see or haven't really been to anyplace other than their home state and Washington DC.  When they travel, it tends to be outside of the US, so they never see parts of the country that the rest of us do.  Then as they start to make DC their home, they lose touch with the ideals of their place of origin and are brought into the hive mind that is the United States capital and they lose any other perspective they might have once had.

I'd like to see some of the major politicians fill out the little survey, just for kicks, and just to see if I'm right.


Joe Allen said...

I've always traveled a fair bit and I've noticed in the last few years that there seems to be less and less regional difference. Every highway exit seems to have the same homogeneous cluster of franchise restaurants and discount stores - even regional accents don't seem as strong as they used to.

Traveling to the West, or the Deep South used to seem like visiting a foreign country now, not so much.

Mr.B said...

"Every highway exit seems to have the same homogeneous cluster of franchise restaurants and discount stores"

If you only get off at the exit, and don't go beyond that area, then you haven't really experienced the area. You gotta go a few miles beyond that in order to learn about people.

Hint: if people don't live within a half-mile of the exit, it ain't a town, it's just an exit.

Joe Allen said...

I agree! Unfortunately, the giant retail ghettos at the major interchanges often run the smaller, local color shops out of business.

I'd rather have 10 bad meals at local joints than 1 mediocre meal at McFranchise's, although it never turns out that way. The beneficial effect of such a competitive environment: if the local place has survived, you can bet good money it'll be excellent.

Anonymous said...


I've just moved to the very east coast after more than 30 years of thinking of Denver as "back east" - including, but certainly not exclusively, California. Think more of West Slope Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho.

The major stores may be mostly the same (sometimes different names: Edy's vs Dreyer's for example), but I sure feel like I've moved to a foreign country.

But I don't think I disagree with you...