This Week:
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Flyover Country
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I hate the phrase \"flyover country.\" In the last month I have traveled this country from coast to coast twice. First, I drove from Oregon to Vermont, mostly on interstate 80. Then I took the train from Vermont back to Oregon via Washington DC. In the next few weeks I will share some observations arising from this journey. The first thing I want to note is that the majority of the trip was spent in what is commonly referred to as \"flyover country.\" This notion of \"flyover country\" gets everything perfectly backward. Here is a map showing the Mississippi river drainage plus the great lakes drainage and minus Canadian territory: aka flyover country. Far from being negligible, this is the heart and liver and lungs of the US. In the first place, it is an enormous generator of wealth. Every year this area produces such huge quantities of corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat that its absence would be immediately and sorely noticed by the whole world. Added to that, it is filled with industrial and commercial centers from Buffalo to Denver. And then there are the mineral resources from the oil fields in and the Dakotas to the Iron mines of Michigan and the copper mines of Montana. It may never match California or the New York metropolitan area for flash and glamour but in terms of solid substance it is their equal and more. California and the northeast USA could both be important nations all by themselves but without the heartland that lies between them the US would not be anywhere near what it is today. It is true that this region can be parochial. It borders no oceans. Immigrants do come into the region,but by the time they get here they are already somewhat Americanized. And this is a region where one can travel many hundreds of miles in any direction without seeing anything that is not completely and typically American. But no one can say they really know America until they have spent at least a little time there. There is simply too much there, commercially, historically and culturally to be able to dismiss it with a glib \"flyover country.\"