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Reason 12 to Vote Obama: Help Rural America

I live in Juneau, Alaska. The population is a little over 30,000. As a native of Los Angeles, Juneau feels kinda of rural to me every once in awhile, even after ten years. But the truth is that Juneau is the third largest city in Alaska. Many, many towns and villages in Alaska have populations under 1,000 people and are truly rural. You can explore different aspects of Alaska’s population through our Dept of Labor’s Research and Analysis Division’s Alaska Population Page.  These communities, and to a lesser extent, Juneau share concerns with rural areas in the Lower 49 – left behind on internet bandwith, high energy costs, few jobs, etc. Unlike the 1960s, America now has the technology to alleviate many of these problems IF we have the will. Additionally around the country it seems like family farms have been gobbled up by agribusiness in a capitalistic process of collectivization. More of the same failed policies of the last eight years won’t help.

If you’ve been watching this space, then you know that Senator Barack Obama has a plan to help rural areas of the country. Some of the things he’d try to enact with Congress include:

  • Connect Rural America: Barack Obama will ensure that rural Americans have access to a modern communications infrastructure. He will modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.
  • Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Obama will ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement. This will transform the economy, especially in rural America, which is poised to produce and refine more American biofuels and provide more wind power than ever before, and create millions of new jobs across the country.
  • Improve Health Care: Rural health care providers often get less money from Medicare and Medicaid for the very same procedure performed in urban areas. Obama will work to ensure a more equitable Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement structure. He will attract providers to rural America by creating a loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural areas. He supports increasing rural access to care by promoting health information technologies like telemedicine.
  • Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Obama is a strong supporter of a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Obama will strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.
  • Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Obama will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. Obama will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers — not large corporate agribusiness. Obama will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.

There’s more to his plan, and I encourage you to read more at http://www.barackobama.com/issues/rural/.

Alaskans by nature are dreamers. Often big dreamers. One of my dreams is to see a state with a robust, cheap supply of electricity from Alaska’s many renewable resources that is combined with Internet 2 like connection speeds. That would allow us to move from being hostage to commodity prices to becoming the next silicon glen. Or would it be silicon tundra? Either way we’d be making ourselves economically sustainable in an environmentally friendly way while helping keeping America on the technological edge. If you vote for Barack Obama on November 4th along with a willing Congress, you can make that happen for Alaska and many other rural areas.

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