What I Have Learned From Photographing 400 Towns in Iowa
Cody Weber

I started this article cynical, and ended liking your position. You are correct — there is a group of people that yearn for a better time that have attached themselves onto someone who wants their vote, but really has no way to help them.

The truth is that you can never go back. It has never been done in history and the attempts to force a country back in time have always been bloody and disastrous (see Pol Pot, Castro, Stalin, etc.).

If you want to see a local culture that has resisted change, see the Amish. They have successfully stopped time by resisting technology, large retail, large agriculture and large industry. I am not sure that is a life many are willing to accept.

Walmart is always a convenient and visible enemy to the small town, but the fact is you can also assign blame to trucking, shipping, refrigeration, preservatives, plastic, the Internet — anything that has allowed us to reach out beyond what is local. The fact is that we don’t live in a local world anymore. And the capitalism that benefits Walmart is no different than the capitalism that provided jobs and money to those Iowa towns back in the 60s. They went from small agriculture to big agriculture all through the 20th Century by buying larger pieces of land and larger farming equipment. That growth brought the prosperity. That is capitalism and it is the same thing that Walmart does.

Protectionism is a temporary band-aid and won’t stop the rest of the world from evolving. Cheap labor is a function of where a group of people are in terms of their economic development relative to other people. When Iowa was first settled — it was the cheap labor. China was the cheap labor for many products until recently — now Vietnam and Bangladesh are cheaper. Economies are organic and always evolve and change.

The reality is that better times will come to these areas, but it will take a long time and it won’t look like what was there before — and most likely will take a few generations to get there.

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