12/09/2016

They Are Not Like the Others

The 2016 Minnesota redneck vote tells a lot of people more than what they needed or wanted to know about the culture in an area. When someone is thinking about starting a business, today the old “location, location, location” rule can have a completely different meaning. A location that has drive-by visibility and access is less important in a society that is driven by convenience (internet access), customer service (tolerance and people skills), loyalty (product lifestyle identification), and originality.

Voting red is a loud and clear indication that a community is neither tolerant, loyal, or creative. Goodhue County, in southeastern Minnesota, has a lot of the qualities that could be incredibly inviting to a 21st Century business. Red Wing, for example, is a transportation hub of sorts, at the intersection of US 61, US63, MN 58, and several well-maintained county roads plus there is an actual functioning Amtrak station. The city is hot-wired with fiber optic internet service almost everywhere in the city limits with IP service up to 1Gbps speeds. There is even public transportation in the city and it is a fairly inclusive service with three routes and regular service from 6AM to 6PM Monday through Friday, and 7AM to 5PM Saturday and Sunday. Housing is reasonably priced and there is no shortage of vacant industrial space. All that is good news. The bad news is that Goodhue County voted strongly for Trump and a Republican House candidate reasonable people assumed should have been unelectable. The Goodhue County Commissioners have tossed up random obstacles to prevent a “zip rail” system to Rochester and high speed rail along the Mississippi River cities. A surprising number of creative people are not drivers or even car owners, choosing to spend their commuting time doing something useful with their time. Easy and quick access to the Cities from the River Cities would be a biog draw to a lot of potential job-creating residents. The City and county officials appear to think Trump or some other con man will be able to return the country and world to the 1950’s, including that period’s social system and hierarchy (income inequality, racial isolation, and white supremacy). While there is a comedic appeal to the “back to the 50’s” drivel, change only goes backwards during catastrophes. Making “America great again,” as in somehow reviving a world where the US is the only major economic playground and white men are the only important players, is not an option.

Creative people are often odd ducks, like Steve Woziniak, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Terry Gilliam, Robert Rodriguez, Amy Pohler, John Stewart, and pretty much any other artist, geek, or inventor you’ve ever heard of. Many (or most) of those people have experienced all of the bullying, intolerance, racism, stupidity, and backwards thinking they’re likely to be willing to put up with by the time their skills become productive. The statement Red Wing and Goodhue County are making with the election and opposition to technological and social change is “we don’t want your kind here.”

Creative people are attracted to other creative people and environments that encourage variety and tolerance. Mostly, that is a selfish preference because they will only thrive and survive in that kind of society. Intolerance, on the other hand, is an unattractive trait that repels creative people and inhibits everyone else. Diversity, that politically-correct concept the alt-right and blue collar middle-aged white men hate most of all, is a creativity driver. Creativity is not a conservative characteristic, either, assuming by “creative” you mean “moderate, careful, restrained, keeping with traditional, opposing change.” It’s pretty obvious that with that list of qualities, conservatives are disinclined to look for new solutions.

Currently, human knowledge is doubling every 12 months and that rate is accelerating. With knowledge comes change and change-drivers are always young, educated, and creative. Any community actively doing things to repel that demographic is doomed. Most of Middle America has been in severe decline for 30 years or more. The smartest kids leave, the dumb ones stay and reproduce more dumb kids with fewer outliers of intelligence every generation. That is not a formula for economic or social success in any vision of the future.

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