c, I hear you on the rural brain drain issue. It is happening everywhere. In New England it seems everyone’s kids go to Boston, NYC, DC, or North Carolina because that’s where the career opportunities are and for most young people the cities are a lot more exciting than the countryside. This is why urban areas have an increasingly large share of the population while the rural areas depopulate. Immigrants mostly go to the cities too. States like Vermont where I live that don’t have any big cities more or less have no population growth, and the median age is older than every State except Maine. Interestingly Vermont and Maine are the whitest States in the country and have the lowest violent crime rates. Old white people don’t cause much trouble I suppose.
Concerning the topic at hand, I think the answer is different if looking in arrears vs looking forward. Looking in arrears, for my siblings and I the alternative to not going away to college was to stay in the crappy neighborhood we lived in and maybe going to work in the hell hole factory our Dad worked in. Going to college allowed us to live lives of relative privilege compared to what was otherwise available to us. I know from growing up that there is no shame in being poor, but there isn’t any glory in it either. All of us chose not to be poor.
We now know that the system my siblings and I jumped into is unsustainable. It wasn’t cracking at the seams back when we were making career choices and we’re fortunate that it has more or less lasted for our careers and for our kids to grow up. As noted already those careers are useless if it all falls apart. Looking forward, if it does, the person who has found a life in a rural area or small town, and acquired more self sufficient skills out of economic necessity is going to be far ahead of their yuppie urban better educated better paid counterparts. No doubt about that. The complication however is that most young people coming out of high school live in urban areas. Being poor in the city isn’t going to afford any advantages over those working in the system as you put it. In fact they may be worse off because the better off will have more options to get out of Dodge as they say. With what I know and can see coming, I’d advise young urban people, if they don’t want to go to college and be part of the “system” to find a way of building a life in a rural or small town area, and for those who want the college fueled career, to look for one well outside of the cities. They exist. If they feel they must stay in the cities, then find a way to develop useful skills and somehow come up with a BOL plan.
As an aside, when we were looking for property in VT. I avoided the ski resort communities and other areas where there were lots of second homes. Instead I wanted to be in more of a working class community where folks as a general rule have lots of self sufficiency skills. My former neighbors in MA thought we were out of our minds to move here, but they don’t see what I see. All they saw was we were trading this house for a fixer upper log home on a dirt road. I saw a terrific property that we could make a go of it on post-SHTF. Hopefully the photo actually appears in the post. I’m not sure if I am doing it right. If it doesn’t take my word for it, it was pretty nice but location-wise not conducive to post-SHTF living, nor were the neighbors especially self sufficient. I was probably the only one in the neighborhood with guns, MA being a very gun-unfriendly State. However there were plenty of guns in the urban enclave to the south whose citizens will spread out once Uncle Sugar stops functioning.