Carl Rupp and his neighbors follow the old rancher's creed: "Keep your money in your pocket."
Rupp has farmed his whole life. He lives in Goshen County, a rural spot along the Nebraska line where cattle outnumber humans 16 to 1 and you can still see the ruts cut by wagons that hauled pioneers along the Oregon Trail. "We're very conservative," said Rupp, 62. "We don't go out too far on a limb."
That prudent financial bent, matched with the high prices paid for crops and energy in the past few years, has largely protected Goshen County and a core group of several hundred other counties in 10 states from the recession's chokehold. The Associated Press Economic Stress Index shows they make up a "safe zone" that covers a long swath of middle America, from the Great Plains south to Texas.
The contiguous counties in the safe zone start in Montana and North Dakota, and cascade into Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, and end in northern Texas and eastern New Mexico. Those in the safe zone had an AP Economic Stress score under 5 in June, making them the economically healthiest in the United States.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.