Rural people love the police because their economy depends on prisoners – Slog
Exactly 10 years ago, the University of Washington Press published a very vivid book that examined Seattle as a social / cultural / economic geographic object. His title: Seattle geographies.
Its editors, Micheal Brown and Richard Morrill, darkly dedicated the work – which involved a small army of students and academics (45 in total) at UW’s geography department – to our active volcano. They made up his thanks while apparently drinking from the Roanoke Tavern, and fills its first pages with grim images of Seattle: a dark serial killer taking the skyline of Gas Works Park, or a crescent moon rising over the 520 Floating Bridge and the remnants of the rainless day of the Pacific Northwest, the shadow of a commercial ship in the bay, and Harbor Island cranes which have just entered in the evening in an atmosphere reminiscent of Cecil Taylor “Entrance, evening (soft line structure). “
From the distance of a decade it’s clear to me that Seattle geographies captured a city that had just completed a gentrification process that began in the early 1990s and by that time was transitioning into the tech and speculative boom that would sweep through much of the second decade of the 21st century. But re-reading the book this weekend, I found that the chapters on Seattle’s political, economic, and social geography are now dated, while the chapter on its rural geography is not. It was a surprise.
It’s always an interesting day at Gas Works Park :). I learned something new today – I got to see the Red Rebellion at Gas Works. #redrebellionbrigade #seattle #gasworkspark #wawx @ShannonODKOMO @CraigHerreraTV #climate crisis #peacefulprotest pic.twitter.com/OUH15fCnfg
– Shubha Tirumale (@Shubhatirumale) May 23, 2021
The rural world described in Seattle geographies has certainly changed. It is, for example, more diverse today than it was then, due to an increase in the Latin American population in counties like Adams and Grant. Indeed, demographic changes in these and other rural areas resembled in many ways those of the suburbs of the 1990s. For example, Adams County, which has a population in the Seattle range. Georgetown (20,000), was 47% Latino in 2000, 55% in 2008, and is now estimated at 64%. All counties with large numbers of Latinos follow this trend, which in some ways mirrors the one that transformed and diversified suburban America soon after. New town planning emerged in the mid-1980s and began its march to the city of, from all places, Celebration, Florida.
But the economic structure of rural Seattle, examined in the still relevant chapter of the book “Beyond the Dominant Image: Theorizing of Rural Difference”, has not changed much. Its three depressing elements are: rural Seattle as a playground, rural Seattle as a dumping ground, and rural Seattle as an invisible place. Put those pieces together and we have an economy that, when widespread, is why the United States has gone through four surprisingly stupid years of Trump’s presidency.
Researchers from Seattle geographies locate rural playgrounds …
… mountains, lakes, coastal shores, forests, national parks and ski resorts. They are easily recognized for their beauty and wild character. Playgrounds dominate the public imaginations of the Northwest. People want to live in these places because of their leisure activities and aesthetics. These areas are experiencing substantial gentrification, as they become the sites of second, third and even fourth homes of the rich and famous.
Tourism is an important aspect of any economy and property values are significantly higher in playgrounds than in other rural areas. Playgrounds can also be venues for businesses serving primarily affluent or middle-class consumers, such as art galleries, clothing and sporting goods stores, gourmet restaurants, and artisan bakeries.
(In another article, I’ll try to distinguish the playing fields of gentrification. I’m still of the opinion that these are very different economic processes.)
As for the dumps:
These places are former agricultural areas, ranches and / or resource extraction areas that provide labor, land and water resources to attract prisons, agricultural factories and food processing factories and thus bring economic development to rural areas of high unemployment and poverty. . Landfill economies are increasingly shifting to retail and service activities, dominated by discount stores like Wal-Mart and fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King. The areas may be close to beautiful mountains or rivers, but they lack the spectacular scenery of playgrounds and proximity to large urban areas or well-known national parks. Restructuring of the rural economy in these areas is signaled by the closure of mines and a slowdown in logging activities, leaving rural areas deprived of jobs and a secure tax base. The leaders of cities and counties compete with other rural areas of the country to attract national and transnational agribusiness and manufacturing companies, state and federal prisons and other forms of business by the lure of land, cheap water and labor, as well as taxes. breaks or infrastructure development (such as roads).
And the invisible patterns are …
… are the forgotten, invisible and rural places of the Northwest. Examples are Hooper and Warren counties in Montana; in northeast Washington state and parts of southern Idaho. They are marked by closed shops, dying small towns and emigrants as a result of declining extraction of natural resources through logging and mining. These places may face environmental problems of declining water quality or soil fertility due to historical forms of resource extraction. These are the marginalized environments of struggling small ranches and low-paying service sector jobs, offering few economic opportunities to young families for a sustainable quality of life. …[U]The lands seen are not destination points for tourists; these are the bypassed spaces of the New West.
There is so much to unbox in each of these categories, but I want to focus the end of this article on the second, which, unlike the invisible motives, has as one of its main economic drivers the huge American prison system. .
Basically, urban areas export prison bodies to their suburbs and rural areas. This development began in the early 1970s at a time that sociologist Bruce Western described in his 2006 book, Punishment and inequalities in America, as the “punitive turn” of the United States. Here, “[p]the rison construction has become [more and more] an instrument of regional development as small towns lobbied for the construction of facilities and resisted the closure of prisons. Three decades after the putative turn, “over a million black children – 9% of those under 18 – had a father in prison.”
Can you see where this is all going? Otherwise, here it is: the entire All Lives Matter vs. Black Lives Matter countermovement has the majority of its supporters in rural areas. For them, this particular feeling towards the police force is inextricably mixed with a feeling of patriotism directly drawn from the images and the codes of the military power of the State.
As Memorial Day approaches, the SPD and other law enforcement officials visit the final resting place of 21 law enforcement officers who died while on duty in Spokane County. A rose and a flag with a thin blue line will be placed at each site. #Memorial day #Hero pic.twitter.com/R33zsJtqYJ
– Spokane Police (@SpokanePD) May 27, 2021
The policeman protects, sacrifices, dies on duty, etc. It all sounds noble. But the truth is, it’s about meat and potatoes, bringing the bacon home, spreading the butter.
Rural counties apparently absorb part of the cop exodus from the Seattle Police Department. But in reality, a cop moving to the Seattle countryside makes no sense, if any, because the organs necessary to run the prison system at a level sustainable for a rural economy are not there. They are in town and in the suburbs. If the cops don’t stop the bodies to export them to landfills, what are they doing with all their time?