Pillaging Rural America

Maybe we all look wealthy or have given lawmakers the impression that we can make do with much less but the new trend emerging in Washington is threatening the economy and standard of living in rural Kansas and rural America.

Just this week – and it’s only Tuesday – I’ve learned of two proposals drafted by Washington politicians that would change life for rural Americans.

As part of the GOP deficit reduction/budget plan, Republicans have proposed moving millions out of a fund used to support rural telephone and Internet providers. These rural carriers are essential to bringing services to rural homes and businesses and without the federal financial support – which is actually funded by a tax on rural customers’ long-distance phone bills and not Washington – many carriers have already admitted they would not be able to continue service as usual. Further expansion of broadband or fiber-to-the-home would be out of the question. Which is ironic given the this proposal comes on the heels of Washington’s new push to bring broadband Internet to every home in America.

And just this morning, the United States Postal Service released its newest list of post offices that could be closed in the coming months. It should come as no surprise that the offices listed for Kansas are all located in rural towns that service a large, mostly farming, population. My county alone had two offices on the list. Mail delivery is essential to families and businesses and eliminating a post office would take away a convenience people have come to depend on. Many agriculture organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, support the idea of consolidating mail delivery routes and streamlining services but object to the idea of offices being closed without the public’s input.

Farmers and others that chose to populate rural America maintain their residency knowing they will likely never have access to many of the services and comforts found in urban communities. But it appears that now Washington is preying on the few conveniences that we have come to appreciate.

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