When did the thought that self sufficiency equals poverty come into the modern mind set? What was once considered a normal way of life just several generations ago is now looked down on by a large percentage of American Citizens.
I believe a large part of that had to do with the Country Life Movement of the early twentieth century.
The movement was comprised mainly of three different groups of people with totally different agendas.
- Urban Agrarians who wanted to preserve the rural way of life while imprinting on the locals what they thought their way of life should be.
- Progressives who thought rural communities were squalid and wanted to integrate successful urban social programs into the areas.
- Farmers who wanted to integrate technology into rural areas to keep up with modern advances in science and improve overall farming methods.
In 1908 Teddy Roosevelt appointed the Commission on Country Life to address the concerns raised by the three different groups.
[quote_box_left]I’m from the government, I’m here to help![/quote_box_left]
The farmers were the only group out of the three who had any measurable level of success with the creation of the Agricultural Extension Program through the Smith-Lever Act of 1914.
The only thing the Agrarians and Progressives accomplished was to upset the rural communities they tried carrying out changes in.
Rural residents looked at the intruders as condescending and out of touch with the real issues within the communities. They thought that the interlopers were just looking out for their own private interests and meddling into areas that were none of their concern.
The Agrarians and Progressives retreated to their urban utopias, leaving their poor rural countrymen to their impoverished lifestyles.
Until 20 years later when President Roosevelt signed the executive order to create the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). With the creation of the REA; rural communities were brought into the modern age through the installation of power lines.
In the video above Michael Bunker talks about his grandmother who grew up in rural America, and how her normal lifestyle was labeled as poverty to support rural electrification. In reality, the self-sufficient lifestyle of her family has been the norm for thousands of years.
It sounds to me like she lived a very rich life.