Thursday, May 5, 2022

Flyover Country is Not Just an American Problem

This 5/3/22 Watts Up With That? column is a stirring tribute to the people in Canadian flyover country who are, if anything, even more disempowered and held in contempt than ours:

The other week, I visited my mom in Saskatchewan, in a little town up in what is called the province’s northeast but really isn’t. It is the parkland border between farms and forests, no farther north than Edmonton. The region is sparsely populated; if you drew a circle around Momstown with, say, a 40 mile radius, that circle would include maybe ten thousand people. 

Out of that circle comes, every year, thousands of head of cattle, enough for, give or take, a million steaks and five times that many hamburgers. Enough grain comes out of that circle to feed a decent sized city. Enough lumber comes out to build hundreds of houses. I’m being lazy with these numbers because I did enough basic research to know that they are, statistically speaking, easy understatements.

At coffee row on a Wednesday morning, 40 heads popped up and swivelled to see who came in; gazes lingered because it was a new guy. The place was a small sea of plaid and hoodies and plaid hoodies and curved-peak hats, a place that would vacate into the street in ten seconds flat if someone outside needed help.

I sit down to order breakfast. The menu is short of granola and yogurt. I go with the flow; I’m not about to make any waves in bacon and egg country. (The next morning’s server, a burly guy with bald head and not-cute tattoos, told me what he said to a customer recently that had hollered at him impatiently from across the restaurant and I won’t be doing that.)

I noticed that I was the only one eating; everyone else was there only apparently for the bottomless coffee cups that prize quantity over quality. The menu board helped explain why; the breakfast special that was $8 on the printed menu from maybe a year ago is now $12 on the sandwich board sitting squatly and unavoidably by the entrance. Around the corner at a grocery store, a 4 litre jug of milk is $8.50. Inflation may be 8 per cent in the government’s eyes, a number that is helpful only in the sense that it actually quantifies the obscenely large gap between the bureaucrat’s theoretical and the working person’s reality.

My brother lives in the same small town; he was stranded at home waiting for a new alternator for his truck. Parts that used to be in stock are now “on order” and the simplest thing can grind one’s mobility or an industrial process to a halt immediately. There is no public transportation, there are no taxis, and supply chains become more fragile the further one gets from large centres.

True, it is a small community, but anyone that cares to venture more than a few hours from a major urban centre will know these places are the backbone of the country, and the output of goods per person is a staggeringly high number. Sit down with a farmer one day and learn how many loaves of bread come from 3,000 planted acres at 50 bushels per acre and you will be stunned (fine, I’ll save you the math and even go health conscious: that farm would produce about 13,500,000 loaves worth of whole-wheat bread per year).

It is worth clicking over and reading in full.  This is a powerful reminder that, like in American flyover country, a lot of what makes privileged whites able to enjoy their overpriced sugared coffees, and artisan breads, are people whose lives do not matter.  We are the wrong race, one that is automatically dismissed no matter how poor we are, or whatever obstacles we faced growing up because privileged whites cannot imagine how someone who looks like the person they see in the morning mirror could be anything but an oppressor.

Hat tip: Small Dead Animals.

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