Beiderwell Thinks

This week: Regionalism.

In this series, SB takes the 5 minutes a week he is not at work, in traffic, playing with his kids, or asleep, to weigh in on an important issue (apologies to any office mates who may oppose the decision to work this in over, say, showering.) A recent New York Times article by the Father-Daughter Combo Todd and Victoria Buchholz posits that young people today are contributing to an inefficient economy by remaining near their hometowns instead of seeking greener pastures like North Dakota (seriously).  This premise, which we are probably supposed to buy because the daughter co-signed, and “if a young person says so too . . .”, is insulting and stupid for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it ignores the biblical truth that America is actually several different countries.  Personal story: as a 3rd year law student, I had an agonizing series of three interviews with a venerable firm in a small, resort town in Virginia.  Over the literally 12 or more hours of roundtable talks, more personal get to know yous, cocktail parties, and dinners that constituted my vetting process, I was asked to seriously respond to one question: as a Californian, even a reformed Californian, could I make it here, where everything was presumably so different?  This was presented as a sort of two-part question—did I really, really, I mean really want to be there, and did they really want me there in turn.  More to the point, did I hunt, and if not, why, and if I wasn’t opposed then, how could everyone really be sure that I would get a kick out of it.  Of course, I simplify—was my wife named Oyster Princess, and if not, why, and if they didn’t have that where she grew up, why not, was it because they didn’t have oysters, and if there were no oysters was she named Princess representing some more regionally appropriate sea creature, etc.  The point is that I am embittered that I will never be a southern gentleman, when the odds once seemed so good.  The second point is that I never had a chance.  Even after we scraped the Obama sticker off of our car.  All of this is to say that perhaps young people don’t move, if indeed they don’t, because to move in the country we live in today is in part to try to be something that you are not, or at least something that others will never accept you as.

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