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In nation, population shifts from rural to urban areas

The question is, are people moving to cities, or being moved there?

Posted by Richard Moore April 9, 2014

When the Census Bureau recently released updated population estimates, the numbers for the Northwoods struck a chord with state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst).

That’s because they reflected a dramatic loss of people. Read more ...

Just announced! Prison sentences for rural America

Posted by Richard Moore April 10, 2014

For years now we have been discussing and reporting in these pages the obsessive drive of environmentalists – we more accurately call them radical aestheticists – to depopulate rural Wisconsin, especially northern Wisconsin.

For years we have talked about the environmental elite’s capture of the state Department of Natural Resources and its use of its bureaucratic machinery to enact population control. Ostensibly, the goal was to protect the environment by halting suburban and urban sprawl and by preserving so-called wilderness areas. 

The reality was to effect total government authority by herding people like cattle into cities.

For years we have warned about the environmental elite’s too-cozy relationship with crony capitalists. Strangely enough, we cautioned, big business and the radical aestheticists have something in common: neither one cares about environmental protection.

The rigid bureaucrats inside the DNR did not care about the agency’s sell out to sulfide mining companies in the 1990s or whether its officials made cozy deals with golf course real estate developers in the already ‘polluted’ (read, ugly) suburbs, so long as they could undertake their obsessive drive to keep northern Wisconsin as uninhabited as possible. That was quite all right with the captains of industry because of the lack of a corporate presence in the North.

The goal all along had nothing to do with environmental protection; it was all about population control.

Now, as much as we hate to say it, and we do hate to say it, our prophecies have come true. As our reporting on population trends shows, rural America is vanishing before our eyes.

Nationally, we report, between 2010 and 2013, nonmetropolitan counties lost aggregate population for the first time ever. In Wisconsin, the mostly rural North was the only region of the state to lose population; some northern counties have experienced losses of more than 10 percent of their residents.

Of course, as usual, the government doesn’t want us to see anything. All of this is due to temporary economic conditions, particularly the Great Recession. Pretty soon, the numbers will bounce back, we are assured.

But the government also acknowledges that the population shift has been underway since the mid-1990s – which coincides precisely with the enactment of Smart Growth laws and comprehensive land-use planning, and with the blooming of various schemes to confiscate land on the government’s behalf.

To cite just one example, Maryland’s Smart Growth laws, enacted in 1992 and in 1997, “guide development to existing urban areas” by establishing urban growth boundaries and by restricting state infrastructure funding to mostly urban “priority funding areas” within those boundaries. Housing?
Only priority funding areas have been eligible for government-assisted financing of new rental housing construction.

Other states have enacted their own versions of urban growth boundaries. The obvious impact is to drive infrastructure, jobs and capital to existing urban clusters, and thus force people to live there.

In Wisconsin, the radical aestheticists inside the DNR have through the years promoted a host of schemes – in addition to comprehensive planning – to confiscate millions of acres of land in rural Wisconsin. As we reported on extensively, in the early 2000s the DNR’s big push was to reclassify, with the wave of a magic wand, wetlands as lakebeds, and thus transfer ownership and control to the state.

Since the mid-2000s, the agency has been pushing onerous impervious surface standards that give the DNR unprecedented jurisdiction over private property in the name of fixing a problem that doesn’t exist in rural areas, namely, watershed pollution from impervious surfaces. Naturally, the urban areas where that problem does exist receive flexibility under the rule so they can pollute even more.

That the aim of all this is to force people to live in urban clusters cannot even be seriously argued, for the radical aestheticists have proudly proclaimed this goal for decades. The whole idea of Smart Growth is to “guide” development  to existing urban areas; the whole idea of shoreland zoning is to restrict development in ever-larger northern districts, as long as those areas are in unincorporated mostly rural communities.

Meanwhile, the Republican Legislature and the Republican governor wave their own wand and redefine the shoreline of Milwaukee so development can proceed there, and the state continues to promote various ”waterfront development” projects in the cities.

It doesn’t stop there. Transportation plans effectively work to limit vehicle access to businesses – as the recent Hwy. 51 project in Minocqua demonstrates  – in the name of public safety, even though the local police department said there were no safety issues with the existing access points. The real point was to stifle as many businesses as possible.

Public health is invoked, too, in the drive to create walkable communities, another code word for shepherding people into cities. You can walk to work, you can walk to school, you can walk to church, you can walk to the store – but only if you live in an urban cluster. But, hey, it’s good for you.

Here’s how Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council put it: “I don’t see the fundamental future choice as between city and suburb but between more walkable, diverse and healthy places, on the one hand, and more automobile-dependent, monolithic, and unhealthy ones, on the other.”

In more candid moments, the radical aestheticists even admit “walkable” is a code word. Here’s Harriet Tregoning, the planning director for Washington, DC (she’s moving to Housing and Urban Development): “Walkability is shorthand for placemaking. What makes people walk is what makes great places to live. Walkability is the secret sauce that improves the performance of many other things.”

Ah, placemaking. Sounds sort of like nation building. What “makes” (forces) people to walk makes them happy. Eat the government sauce and become a happy, healthy human being.

It doesn’t stop there. As state Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst points out, environmental roadblocks are thrown in front of any serious attempt to create jobs in rural Wisconsin, whether it’s iron-ore mining or timber harvesting.

Think Republicans are any better than Democrats on these issues? Well, as mentioned above, just take a gander at their attempts to increase state jurisdiction over private property through shoreland zoning. The administration’s business subsidies heavily tilt, too, toward the state’s urban areas; the North is thrown a few crumbs in the form of tourism grants.

Tourism is supposed to be the only industry in the North apparently, but, as Mr. Tiffany has observed, the North cannot sustainably thrive on tourism alone.

Many people love city life – I have lived in cities, and enjoyed it – but the decision to live in the city should be a choice, not a government directive. For when the government controls where you live, well, by any other name that’s called a prison sentence.

Enacting laws that force people to relocate to urban areas is thus totalitarian; doing so in a way that masks control in smiley-face code words such as ‘walkability’ and ‘healthy’ makes it fascist to boot.

First published in The Lakeland Times

Study: No correlation between school spending, achievement

While inflation-adjusted spending triples since 1970, test scores flat line

Posted by Richard Moore April 8, 2014

Since the late 1970s, outcomes for the once-proud American educational system have been sliding comparatively, and the central question has been why.

Some point out that the decline of American education coincided with the creation of the federal Department of Education and the increasing federalization of standards and programs beginning in 1979. Others say the downward spiral of standards stands in inverse proportion to the upward spiral of teachers’ unions. Still others say too few dollars have been spent, even though trillions have been devoted. Still others are simply perplexed. Read more ....

Lisa Moore poster art


Really cool Washington Heights posters designed by, and including the photos of, Lisa Moore for sale in the web store. Limited edition prints. One poster depicts historic homes and windows in Milwaukee's famous neighborhood (13" by 19", $15 includes shipping and handling); the second is a selection of flowers from the neighborhood (13" by 19", $13 includes shipping and handling). See posters in web store. To buy, click here.

Pre-order now!
The New Bossism
of the American Left

The New Bossism is a powerful alliance of special interests, entrenched government bureaucracies and the state-run media. In this book, Richard Moore describes how bureaucrats, working in league with their crony-capitalist and identity-group constituencies, control policy (and the people), all with the aid of their propaganda machine, the state-run media.

How did this New Bossism come about? How can it be defeated? In the New Bossism of the American Left, Moore traces the history of the movement’s rise, and derives from that history the only real possible way to stop it. Read more or pre-order now.

How the DNR Stole Wisconsin, Part II
On Sale Now!

It's been six years since How the DNR Stole Wisconsin was published, and the verdict is in: The DNR is the same old DNR.

The bureaucracies are intact, with the same bad actors carrying out the same bad intentions. There is not a trace of transparency. In How the DNR Stole Wisconsin, Part II, Richard explains how the agency’s so-called business partnerships and sustainability projects are little more than a facade for stamping the state’s economy with U.N. globalism. In shoreland zoning, the agency is doing under Republicans what everyone thought the Democrats would do: Adopting confiscatory rules for private property. And the agency fashions its policies around bogus left-wing global warming projections, based on discredited 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments.

Read all about it and more in How the DNR Stole Wisconsin, Part II. Available in print, PDF and ePub digital formats (for book readers such as iBooks and Nook). Available June 1, 2014. Pre-order price is $7.95, a 20 percent discount.

Pre-order now the web store.

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