An Urban vs Rural community Question
As technology advances I have an observation, and a question that needs to be asked and answered. And this could be a pretty interesting question. Back in the day, say 100 or 150 years ago, there were not so many people. Many activities occurred where there were few people and impacts on others were minimal. In some cases ecological damage was significant, but we were not so worried about that because few people were impacted by that ecological damage. In the 20th century, in urban locations, the impact of one’s activities on others became the basis for zoning laws – limiting what you could do with your property because certain activities negatively impacted others. And we certainly had examples of this – Cuyahoga River burning for one. Of course this phenomenon of zoning and similar restrictions was mostly an urban issue because there potential to impact others was more relevant in urban areas. We also know that major advances in technology and human development tend to occur in population centers (think Detroit for cars, Pittsburgh and Cleveland for steel, Silicon Valley, etc.). People with ideas tend to migrate to urban areas, increasing the number of people and the proximity to each other. Universities, research institutions, and the like tend to grow up around these industries, further increasing the draw of talent to urban areas. The observation is that urban areas tend to have more restrictions on what people do than rural areas. So the question – do people consciously make the migration to urban areas realizing that the migration for the potential financial gain occur with the quid pro quo of curbing certain freedoms to do as you please? Of does this artifact occur once they locate to the urban areas? And is there a lack of understanding of the need to adjust certain activities understood by the rural community, or does it become yet another point of philosophical or political contention? I have blogged previously about the difference between rural and urban populations and how that may affect the approach of utilities, but read a recent article that suggests that maybe urban citizens accept that financial gains potential of urban areas outweighs the need to limit certain abilities to do as you please to better the entire community. They are motivated by potential financial opportunities that will increase their standing and options in the future. So does that mean urban dwellers understand the financial tradeoff differently than rural users? Or is it a preference issue. And how does this translate to providing services like water to rural customers, who often appear to be more resistant to spending funds for improvements? While in part their resistance may be that their incomes tend to be lower, but is their community benefit concern less – i.e. they value their ability to do as they please more than financial opportunities or the community good? I have no answer, but suggest that this needs some further study since the implications may be significant as rural water systems start to approach their life cycle end.