Small Oklahoma town thwarts OPEC

4565921057_c433829383_mCushing, Oklahoma, is a town of about 7,000 close to where we live.  What makes it notable is that several oil pipelines cross there.  Which has led to the construction of massive oil storage facilities where production companies can park their oil until it’s needed.

The big OPEC producers, led by Saudi Arabia, have made a deal with non-OPEC producers, such as Russia, to cut back production in an attempt to drive up prices.  But because Cushing has built up such a big supply, prices are staying low despite the cutback.

Bloomberg has a story about the global economic impact of this small town.

Now if Cushing and thus the world’s oil supply can only avoid damage from the earthquakes they’ve been having.  On November 6, Cushing had a 5.3 magnitude quake that did some serious damage to the downtown, though the pipelines and storage tanks were spared. [Read more…]

What Trump gets right

The empty factories have their windows broken and weeds are taking over the parking lots, but they remain as monuments of the prosperity that rust-belt cities used to enjoy.  Small towns in the heartland have downtowns with shop windows boarded up.  Their young people either move away the first chance they get, looking for work, or they stay with many of them getting hooked on crystal meth or heroin.  A large number of the displaced workers in both the cities and the towns have given up on marriage and have stopped going to church, such is their despair.

What has happened to many of our cities and our small town culture–which used to be the Norman Rockwell vision of America–is tragic.  Here we see where economics and culture come together, destroying each other.

Who’s to blame?  Wal-Mart or Amazon for destroying America’s small retailers?  Corporations closing factories here and opening them overseas in lands of cheap labor?  Can or should anything be done about it?  Maybe these are just casualties of the market’s “creative destruction.”  But we are writing off a good part of America.

Donald Trump is pretty much the only one in either party who shows any concern whatsoever about the plight of America’s working class. [Read more…]

Why there is heroin in the heartland

Heroin used to be a plague in the big cities, but today heroin addiction is rampant in the small towns of America’s heartland.  Rod Dreher reviews what sounds like an important book, Sam Quinones, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.  It is a tale of a peaceful network of illegal immigrants, a new marketing strategy featuring personal deliveries and customer service, and the legacy of pain pill addiction.  Underlying it all is the goal of avoiding all pain and of attaining a state of “permanent pleasure.” [Read more…]

City vs. Suburbs

Retiring baby-boomers are increasingly moving away from their houses in the suburbs to condos in the city.  This makes sense.  Single and just-married adults living in small apartments when just starting out, then moving to larger homes, more space, and better schools in the suburbs when their family grows.  Then, when the nest is empty, moving back to smaller, lower-maintenance apartments when they reach retirement age.  With both the young and the old liking a stimulating environment close at hand with less driving.

But this hasn’t happened all that much until lately, and it goes along with some interesting demographic changes.  Poverty is up 64% in suburbs, twice the rate as in cities.  And the crime rate is falling in cities and rising in the suburbs.

Why do you think that is?  What can be done to improve suburbs?  Or make cities habitable for families?  And where do small towns fit into all of this? [Read more…]