One of the things that has confused me for some time is how there can be so much economic diversity in a relative small area. For example, one town can have a labor shortage with employers begging for people and a nearby town can have very high unemployment.
This question was addressed in an article in the Wall Street Journal last week. It seems that American’s mobility is at an all-time low. People are less likely to move to another town than they have ever been before. We are no longer a mobile society and it is hurting the economy in all sorts of ways.
The Journal article interviewed several people to try to understand why this is so. Some of the reasons made sense. People didn’t want to move away from family or friends, or they had strong ties to the local community, church, or businesses. But the surprising thing was that a large number of people are just plain scared of the unknown, or are unwilling to accept or adjust to different cultures. Some people had gone away to college, but dropped out and returned home within weeks because their comfort and customs had been challenged. They were then mentally doomed to stay in their own town regardless of the economic situation.
My wife and I and many of our friends, grew up in small towns, went away to college and settled in large cities. But for many people, and more all the time, this is just too big of a leap. The culture barrier has become too big.
The conventional wisdom is that TV and the other media have homogenized the country, but that isn’t the case, it has just made many people more fearful. Fear is a real emotion, but everyone has to decide if they will be paralyzed by it, or motivated to action so that it does not stop all that they can become and achieve.