Wil Truman’s blog entry about rural medicine and Russell Saunders’ subsequent comment about “the need to subsidize medical care in rural and underserved communities” led me to wonder whether the U.S. has too large a rural population due to such subsidies. Then I read a student paper writing about whether the U.S. Post Office should be privatized, and the only justification he found for keeping it as a government operation was to ensure mail delivery to rural areas, which he recognizes is subsidized by other users of the USPS. And that has me thinking further…
Clearly we subsidized rural life with the Rural Electrification Act, and we subsidize it by paving lightly traveled roads (although there are also many rural roads that are just dirt or gravel). So how much do we subsidize rural life in total, and is that a bad public policy because it improperly obscures the real cost or rural life? Should urban residents be asked to subsidize rural living?
But conversely, what kind of subsidies exist to support urban life? Are rural residents effectively subsidizing urban living in some ways?
Any thoughts on this, folks?