Friday, November 18, 2011

Ghost town America growing

We have had a number of discussions about the plight of small town America. However, in a few areas the small towns are not dying out. They are either maintaining their numbers, or actually growing. What is unsettling to some of the residents though is that the group that is expanding is Hispanic immigrants.

Hispanics Reviving Faded Towns on the Plains
Steve Hebert, New York Times, 14 November 2011

ULYSSES, Kan. - Change can be unsettling in a small town. But not long ago in this quiet farming community, with its familiar skyline of grain elevators and church steeples, the owner of a new restaurant decided to acknowledge the community's diversity by adding some less traditional items to her menu. Cheeseburgers. French fries. Chicken-fried steak.

"American food," the restaurant owner, Luz Gonzalez, calls it. And she signaled her move by giving her Mexican restaurant a distinctly American name: "The Down-Town Restaurant."

In the case of Ulysses, the town featured in the article, half of its 6,160 person population is Hispanic.

The big change in the area is that they are pushing out of the larger towns, and expanding into the smaller communities.  This is not too surprising.  Many of the Hispanic immegrants come from small towns themselves and are more comfortable in that environment.  North Carolina, which is a State full of small towns with relatively few cities, has experienced exactly the same phenomina.  I suspect the big difference is that North Carolina started with so much larger of an overall population that it the cultural shift is not as large.

The U.S. population would be aging and dwindling if it were not for immigration.  Since the immigrants are younger, it is natural that they are going to slowly replace the earlier population groups.  After all, how many native Dutch (German) speakers are there in the Bronx?

There is of course hostility in some quarters, but as time goes on people do tend to get used to each other.  As the Mayor of Ulysses noted:

"At first every community, including Ulysses, was very unwelcoming, but a lot of that was because we wanted to hold on so tight to what we were," he said. "In the last five years, we've really seen that they're here, they're staying, they're part of the community. We've kind of gotten used to each other."


PioneerPreppy said...

I have had pleasurable contact with almost every Hispanic I have had to socialize or co-livearound, whether it is work or some other endeavor. The exception seems to always be either a Porta Riccan with a chip on his shoulder or a Deep South American socialist.

When they begin importing their politics things will get bad until then it's a party.

russell1200 said...

I have worked in Puerto Rico a couple of times and found them to be very nice as well.

But any groups that stays within the United States long enough eventually gets at least a group of people who develop a sense of entitlement.

Most people willing to immigrate to another country to work are going to be dedicated and hard working. It does not always apply to the second or third generation.

When I was working in Puerto Rico, most of the Puerto Ricans that we were an amazingly hard working bunch. It was the same thing you see with Hispanics coming to the U.S. but in reverse. If you are spending your own dime (we were independent contractors) to go work away from home, you are not there to play around. You are also going to be there because you have an opportunity that you don’t have at home. You are there to work and make money. Since you are very much aware that you are a guest (and outnumbered) most people are going to have enough sense to be polite.

I have never met anyone from South America who was a socialist. Obviously they exist; I just have never met them. Many of the socialists/communists I have met have a certain bitterness to their personality combined with a certain self-righteous smugness that tends to lead to unpleasant personalities. Not that modern conservatives don't often have their own version of smugness. IMO if both sides had a better understanding of both their own arguments (often contradictory and incomplete) and a better understanding of why the other viewpoint exists, they would be a lot more worried and a lot less smug.