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Opening Arguments

Hicks in the sticks

Waste and duplication, today's example:

The problem is that the U.S. government has at least 15 official definitions of the word “rural,” two of which apply only to Puerto Rico and parts of Hawaii.

All of these definitions matter; they’re used by various agencies to parcel out $37 billion-plus in federal money for “rural development.” And each one is different.

In one program, for instance, “rural” is defined as any place with fewer than 50,000 residents.

[. . .]

But in another, only towns smaller than 2,500 residents are “rural.”

[. . .]

Today, the government’s official definitions of “rural” include one written in 1936: an area with fewer than 10,000 people. That one is still used to parcel out rural telecommunications grants. Another definition was written in 1949: any place with fewer than 2,500 people. It is used for housing-aid programs.

These exist alongside other, different definitions: One sets the population limit for “rural” areas at 20,000. Another, at 25,000. Another, at 50,000.

"Rural" is one of those things I wouldn't try to define, but having grown up country,  I know it when I see one. Wonder how many people who don't like being considered hicks in the sticks would be willing to be called that if it meant a nice federal paycheck.