Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monopoly Money

The other day, frequent contributer J-Lo posted a link on our Facebook page to an article her friend had sent her regarding one person's explanation of economic problems and potential fixes from a point of view of someone on the left.  (Said friend has commented here, and I hope you're still reading).  I later got a chance to read it fairly closely, and came to the conclusion that the whole thing is nonsense on stilts.  The whole thing is full of weasel words (many, much, hardly any, etc.) that don't mean anything concrete, and sometimes even mean different things in different contexts.  My favorite "weasel" is when 20-34% in one context is "only a fraction," whereas in another, 20-30% of the same figure is "much of the money."  And, as an added bonus, the whole thing is steeped rather heavily in Marxist class rhetoric, with a few "Uber-Rich"es thrown in for good measure.  If you want a fun exercise for your evening, click on over, print a copy, and black out every weasel word and gratuitous mention of class, wealth, and status.  It'll end up looking like a FOIA request about Area 51. 
Stylistic criticism aside, the whole thing is also full of contradiction and fallacy, but if you want a point-by-point rundown, I'd be happy to give one later.  But for now, I'll keep this narrow, because it's going somewhere eventually, and I'd like to still have an audience by the end.  In the article, the author makes the following assertion:
Whenever The Fed buys securities in the open market, it pays for them with money that it creates out of thin air with a keystroke.  It does not draw the money from some reserve account that is limited in size.  It is "new money" that did not exist prior to the keystroke that created it.  With any of its purchases of securities, the Fed provides loanable funds to banks that were not saved by any saver.
From a certain point of view, this is technically correct.  The cash did not exist prior to the purchase.  But cash and money are not the same thing.  Cash is just a measure of the value that money has in an economy.  But the Fed's creation of cash out of thin air did not add to the overall value of wealth in the economy.  It just changed the relative value of the ratio between cash and money.  Look at it this way:
Courtesy Hasbro
Say you're playing Monopoly on a table, with a real game set.  I know, I know, it takes so long, and everyone always fights, and there are better things to do.  It's sort of like life in that way.  But say there's a blizzard, and the TV's out, and you've worn the spots off of all the decks of cards in your house, so you're left with playing Monopoly.  After a while, the banker gets crazy, and decides to add an extra zero to some of the money.  For a while, making change might get a little tricky, but you'll keep playing.  Then say the banker adds some more, and some more, and some more, until every bill in the set has an extra zero on it.  The banker has undeniably created more cash out of thin air.  But the amount of wealth has not changed.  There are still the same number of bills, same number of cards, and same amount of property.  After a while, the game will get pretty dumb, and even staying at a hotel on Boardwalk won't hurt.  Eventually, everyone will either tire of the game, or just add an extra zero to all the bills to restore balance between cash and wealth.  What was gained by this magical creation of cash?  Not a darned thing, but a few extra hours of frustration, and damaging the resale value of the set. 
Courtesy Hasbro
Now, say you could change the game and actually affect how it plays.  What sort of rule changes could you make that would actually increase the wealth available?  First, you could tinker with the "zoning code" of the game.  You could add more houses and hotels to the available set.  You could even increase the number that can be put on a property, and correspondingly increase the amount you can charge.  Second, your mini Atlantic City could "annex" more property, increasing the size of the board and the available property to buy and charge rent on.  But perhaps the simplest hack, one that doesn't require printing a whole new board or figuring out how to build more little plastic houses, also happens to be my favorite "house rule:"  Put all of the tax money collected in the game in the middle, and whomever lands on Free Parking gets a tax refund.  What good does putting your $150 income tax in the bank do for anyone, if it can't come back to someone who can turn it around into putting houses on Connecticut and Oriental? 
Read this book.
Not that the idea of fixing the economy by toying with the value of money is a new one.  According to Amity Shlaes in The Forgotten Man, during the Great Depression, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. related the story of President Roosevelt deciding to increase the price of gold by 21 cents, because, in the President's words, "It's a lucky number, because it's three times seven."  Another time of economic trial, before depressions were called "depressions," was the Panic of 1893.  The Panic happened, as they often do, as a result of the bursting of a bubble, in this case a bubble that developed in overbuilding railroads.  Another major contributing factor was a long period of low inflation, and even deflation, of the currency.  The panic, combined with monetary issues, gave rise to a populist movement, of which a major goal was "Free Silver." 
Free Silver was a movement that sought to include silver in the pricing mechanism of the dollar, which to that point had been based on the price of gold.  At the time, the gold mining industry was slowing down significantly, while silver was so plentiful that many mines lay empty because it cost more to mine than you could sell the silver for.  The ultimate goal of the populist movement, of which the rural farming population was a significant portion, was inflation.  In the big picture, inflation helps debtors, while deflation helps borrowers, and folks who were still paying down land that they had bought in the rapid expansion of the nation in the previous decades definitely didn't mind any help in paying the mortgage, so to speak. 
Going back to our Monopoly example, let's say you're playing the long-form version of the game, and happen to land on Boardwalk, which the bank still owns.  The $400 price tag is a lot of scratch.  What if you could set up the purchase on an installment plan of a $20 every turn for 20 turns?  That would be a much easier decision, wouldn't it?  Three turns after this agreement, though, is when our crazy banker starts putting zeroes on the money.  Then each $20 becomes a $200 bill, and you can pay off the "mortgage" on Boardwalk in a couple turns, and be free and clear 15 turns earlier than the banker was expecting full payment.  Similarly, if the crazy banker scratched out zeroes, causing deflation, those two former-$100 bills you'd have to start paying your mortgage with would run out pretty quickly. 
William Jennings Bryan
So in the 1890s, the people who owed the most money – folks who had purchased property like farmers being a large number of them – wanted a monetary policy that included silver to inflate the currency and be out of debt that much easier.  Of course the evil "Eastern Banking Establishment" would lose a lot of money, so clearly they were behind keeping gold as the only measure of the dollar.  The Populist movement beginning in the Panic of 1893 gave voice to perhaps the most well-known populist in history, William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska.  He was noted for soaring oratory, and was even nominated to be the Democratic Party's candidate for President once in Denver, although that was 15 years after the Panic. 
In a sense, this all sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?  Of course, nowadays, the biggest debtor in the country isn't landowners (although that's not to be discounted with the bursting of the housing bubble), and a growing global market has helped the farm economy improve with higher prices.  The biggest debtor in the country, as you may have guessed, is the US Government, of course.  So it's no wonder they'd want to tinker with the price of money, is it?  Keep that in mind next time you read about the Fed tinkering with interest rates or buying debt. 
Oh, by the way.  In the year after the Panic of 1893 was the midterm election of 1894.  As Michael Barone was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying, during that election, the Republican Party gained 130 seats on the Democrat and Populist parties, to take a 151-seat edge in the House of Representatives, or nearly three-quarters of the total seats in the House, making that election the tsunami of all electoral tsunamis. 
Take from that what you will, and please pass the dice.  I think it's my turn to roll.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Backwards Thinking" in the Rocky Mountain West

Although we are fairly diffuse now, we who contribute fairly regularly to Rural Republic all share a connection to Eastern Colorado. So, we would naturally be interested in the Colorado gubernatorial race in just about any year. However, the way it has shaken out this year has garnered national attention... and it just got even more interesting, especially from the viewpoint of rural Americans.

Let me begin my brief recap of the campaign by pointing out that, while I am pretty invested in my long-held unaffiliated voter status (I think the hierarchy of both major parties smells about as rotten as a town with a packing plant, a sugar beet refinery, and a history of sewer problems), I was just about ready to declare myself a Republican this year in order to vote for candidates I was excited to support in both the U.S. Senate race and the governor's race. Before I could even get that far, though, the national and state "powers that be" within the party did some major field-clearing and swept both candidates out of their respective races. And that's where the problems started for the Republicans in what had been expected to be a great opportunity to reclaim the governorship.

You can read up further on the subject here or at other sources, but here's what happened in a nutshell: the anointed choice of the party turned out to be a serial plagiarist and, well, just a jerk. By the time all of this became clear, though, it was too late for anyone who wasn't already on the primary ballot to get in the race - and the only other person who hadn't taken the cue to clear out was Dan Maes, a complete political novice who has turned out to be a serial... well, to be kind, "exaggerator." Seeing a chance to beat Denver mayor John Hickenlooper (the Democrats' relatively weak candidate) slipping away, former Congressman Tom Tancredo sought to bluff whoever won the primary into agreeing to step aside so that the party could name a more electable candidate. If they agreed, he said, he would stay out of the race; if not, he would enter as a "third party" candidate, potentially splitting the conservative vote.

Well, Maes won the primary and proceeded to call Tancredo's bluff. It was generally assumed that having both Maes and Tancredo in the race would guarantee a Hickenlooper win... but Maes has continued down a path of historic self-destruction and Hickenlooper has failed to generate much statewide excitement. This has resulted in a situation today in which most polls show Hickenlooper with a lead over Tancredo just smaller than the margin of error (e.g., 44% to 40%), with Maes hovering in the 10% range.

Which brings us to two days ago, when National Review Online brought to light a 2009 interview in which Hickenlooper, when asked why the Matthew Shepard Foundation (named for a young, gay man murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in 1998) established its offices in Denver despite Shepard having no real connection to Colorado, said:

I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.
Hickenlooper also went on to cite the vibrant gay (or "LGBT") community in Denver, but never, apparently, did he point out reasons such as the strong nonprofit and NGO network in his city, or the most obvious point that Denver is the political and economic hub for a multi-state region. His first, primary, explanation is that the entire region is populated with a significant number of people who subscribe to "backwards thinking" and, by extension, are only different in degree from the desperate meth addicts who killed Shepard.

Now, you might think that someone who embraces the nickname "Hick" and appears in one of his campaign ads dressed as a rodeo cowboy might have a certain fondness for rural Coloradans. However, these gestures have a certain sniggering, ironic quality to them - not unlike this or this. Upon further examination of Hickenlooper's background, it seems more likely that he neither likes nor understands rural people and the issues that are important to them.

As a child, Hickenlooper attended the all-boys' Haverford School, described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as an "elite private school." He then went on to undergraduate and graduate degrees from "storied" Wesleyan University. He later co-founded a controversial philanthropic fund that supports such groups as Re-create 68, and has said of former Obama "green jobs czar" Van Jones, "he is a rock star... he's bigger and better in life than what you've heard." He is, in short, a part of the "ruling class" outlined by Angelo Codevilla (and recently described here by Jon), surpassed only by people with names like Bush and Kennedy - and, perhaps, his former chief-of-staff and fellow Wesleyan alum Senator Michael Bennet, whose father has served as Assistant Secretary of State for two Democratic presidents, CEO of National Public Radio, and president of... Wesleyan University.

The kind of contempt Hickenlooper shows for many of his potential constituents is hardly unique. Barack Obama told a group of supporters in San Francisco during his 2008 presidential campaign that people in small towns in Pennsylvania, "like a lot of small towns in the Midwest" have grown frustrated by their region's economic decline and "they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

More than a century before that, William "Boss" Tweed of Tammany Hall infamy told the editor of Harper's Weekly, "I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don't know how to read." (He continued, "But they can't help seeing them damned pictures," referring to the political cartoons Thomas Nast had been using to criticize him.)

This time around, voters have a chance to prevent the election of someone who despises a large percentage of them. Leaders from both major parties acknowledge the importance rural voters play in statewide elections in Colorado; perhaps Mayor Hickenlooper's "bitter clinger" moment will be the impetus those voters need to demand a little respect.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Country Citizens’ Revolt

Democracy As it Was
I’ve been struggling with this essay for quite some time.  I haven’t been able to answer the “So what?” question, but it may have come to me recently.  You can let me know.  Another problem I dealt with was in the topic and message.  So far, this site has been heavy on the “Rural,” and not so much on the “Republic.”  We’ve been trying to stay fairly non-partisan, although that’s not the same as unbiased, and I wasn’t sure if getting too overtly political would damage that.  I have come to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong with discussing the modern civic live in the Rural Republic.  Indeed, one of the animating forces behind this concept, in my mind, was the image from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, where he describes the unique political character of discourse in the rural stage of this republic: 
The cares of political life engross a most prominent place in the occupation of a citizen in the United States, and almost the only pleasure of which an American has any idea is to take a part in the Government, and to discuss the part he has taken…  Debating clubs are to a certain extent a substitute for theatrical entertainments:  an American cannot converse, but he can discuss; and when he attempts to talk he falls into a dissertation.  He speaks to you as if he was addressing a meeting; and if he should chance to warm in the course of the discussion, he will infallibly say, “Gentlemen,” to the person with whom he is conversing. 
 Of course the esteemed Frenchman is having a bit of fun at early Americans’ inability to separate political discussion from other social interaction.  The difference between the two cultures was incredibly portrayed in the HBO miniseries John Adams, in the episode where the eponymous founder found himself on a rather uncomfortable diplomatic envoy in France.  He may have been English just a few short years earlier, but, as his later trip to England showed, it’s the difference between the politically free citizen and the socially free subject that caused the rift, greater even than that ancient Franco-English rivalry.  Apart from his poking fun, Tocqueville had high praise for the new American society, though. 
 I am persuaded that, if ever a despotic government is established in America, it will find it more difficult to surmount the habits which free institutions have engendered than to conquer the attachment of the citizens to freedom. 

This ceaseless agitation which democratic government has introduced into the political world influences all social intercourse.  I am not sure that upon the whole this is not the greatest advantage of democracy.  And I am much less inclined to applaud it for what it does than for what it causes to be done.  It is incontestable that the people frequently conducts public business very ill; but it is impossible that the lower orders should take a part in public business without extending the circle of their ideas, and without quitting the ordinary routine of their mental acquirements.  The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds much more enlightened than his own.  …  I have no doubt that the democratic institutions of the United States, joined to the physical constitution of the country, are the cause (not direct, as is so often asserted, but the indirect cause) of the prodigious commercial activity of the inhabitants.  It is not engendered by the laws, but the people learns how to promote it by the experience derived from legislation. 
The men, and even the women, as mentioned in the remainder of that passage, of that era were steeped in democratic responsibility.  The discussion in the “ale-houses” was as often as not discussion regarding various measures and policies in the local, state, and federal governments.  Can you imagine having a discussion about state bill 1365, or the latest ballot proposals down at Buffalo Wild Wings?  I mean, I can, but I’m a nerd and I’m writing this essay.  But it certainly would be out of the ordinary.  Either way, that’s an image that’s stuck with me for a long time.  

Perhaps more than that image, though, was what he said later in the passage.  The reason everyone talked about politics was that everyone was involved in politics in one way or another.  Everyone, even the lowliest citizen, would serve on some council or board, and would be a more complete, more informed, more confident citizen as a result.  

The Division of a Democracy
My, what progress hath wrought.  In the July/August issue of the American Spectator, Angelo M. Codevilla wrote an incredible, and incredibly influential essay regarding the class stratification of American society.  In a situation of which the “Tea Party” (more on that later) is a symptom, rather than a disease, he theorized that the society today is split not along Marxist class lines, but along lines of political influence and philosophy, into two classes:  a Ruling Class and a Country Class.  There have always been those with more influence than others; it’s likely Tocqueville’s extremely democratic democracy  was more illustration than reality. 
 Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust.  Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others.  But until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter.  The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another.  Few had much contact with government, and "bureaucrat" was a dirty word for all.  So was "social engineering."  Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday's upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed.  All that has changed.
 Indeed, it has.  Today, as Codevilla uses polls and demographic statistics to illustrate, the Ruling Class is incredibly uniform in background and ideas.  They’re usually coastal, went to an Ivy League or other extremely prestigious school, and work in more liberal “professional” careers, such as law, education, journalism, or politics.  They all behave and believe a certain way, and even talk a certain way.  They overwhelmingly self-identify as Democrat, although some other members of the class are establishment Republicans.  

On the other side of the divide is the Country Class, a group as varied as the Ruling Class is uniform.  (Let me note here that I’m not making this “Country Class” thing up, though it’s certainly a happy accident that the terminology chosen by Codevilla matches so well with the concept behind this site)  The most interesting thing is they don’t identify as Republican consistently, but as “independent,” or perhaps in some polls as a practitioner of a generic “Tea Party” if given the option.   Regardless, while some members of the Country Class may aspire to the same careers as those in the Ruling Class, a Country Class lawyer will have less in common with his Ruling Class colleague, and no one will know it more than the latter.  

The whole essay is as fascinating as it is long, but it’s well worth the read.  It’s already being treated as a fundamental shift in the way of looking at the American political scene.  It certainly illustrates the difference between the democratic America described in Democracy in America and the aristocracy we experience today.  

Democracy as It Is
In their recent book The Blueprint, political journalist Adam Schrager and former Colorado state legislator Rob Witwer delve into the creation of a progressive political machine that has reshaped the state of Colorado, and indeed races across the country, in method and infrastructure.  While there is much to glean from a relatively short book, a few things stand right out, in addition to the occasional despair experienced on the part of those who would lament the creation and effects of a progressive political machine.  First, the system is what it is, or, as my college philosophy professor was fond of saying “Every system is perfectly designed to effect the result it does,” and the modern political system is apparently perfectly designed for such a progressive political machine.  So what are the rules of the system?

The first rule bounding the system is term limits.  While it’s not a necessary condition, it accelerates the effects of the “machine,” and recalled a line from Aeschylus:
So in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
‘With our own feathers, not by others’ hands,
Are we now smitten.’
The reason term limits matter is that any given seat in a state legislature will be in play at some point in an eight year period.  With enough influence, no seat is safe.  

The second bound to the system is the campaign finance law.  To contribute to a campaign or a party, a person must pass a minimum standard (e.g., citizenship), will have their identity recorded and made public, and can give a maximum amount, which is usually fairly nominal when compared to the amount of money spent on a campaign.  There is one major exception to all of these caveats, however: so-called 527 organizations.  Simply put, these 527s can collect an unlimited amount of anonymous money from anyone, anywhere, and put it toward a political goal, or, more properly, against a political candidate.  See, one of the restrictions on 527s is that they can’t collaborate with a political campaign, which in practice means they can’t support a given candidate; they can only oppose the other candidate.  Incidentally, if you were wondering why you were getting covered in mud this campaign season, that’s why.  

Out of these rules grew an organization designed to take advantage of them for progressive political ends.  Various “anonymous,” though we know who they are, ultra-rich donors funded massive coordinated smear campaigns under numerous 527s, all with vague, fuzzy-as-a-bunny-sounding names to get their candidates elected.  It was devastatingly effective in Colorado, and is surely on its way to a political race near you.  

Democracy as It Is Becoming
But the other side of the political spectrum has an answer to the coordinated, hierarchical, unified structure of the progressive 527 machine: the “Tea Party” movement.  As I noted above, of the two classes, the Ruling Class identifies with progressive politics, while the Country Class can be said to identify with the Tea Party.  Although, since there is no real “Tea Party,” perhaps a better way of saying that is that the Tea Party is a loose collection of politically-motivated members of the Country Class.  

Either way, the Tea Party movement is as different from the progressive machine as can be imagined.  Where the “machine” is hierarchical, the Tea Party is organic.  Where it is well-funded, the Tea Party survives on small donations and volunteer leadership.  Where the machine has defined objectives and carefully-calculated campaign strategies, the Tea Party runs on free information and sheer energy. 
In the end, both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.  In an article in the National Journal, Jonathan Rauch discussed the advantages of the Tea Party’s disorganized structure with a few of its facilitators.  In one such vignette, one of the leaders explains to a newer volunteer how things really work:
 Rick, from Albuquerque, N.M., asks if the national agenda includes investigating voter-roll irregularities, something his group is concerned about. Mark Meckler, a Tea Party Patriots coordinator and co-founder, weighs in. Newcomers "often don't understand how badly we need you to lead the way," he says. "If this is an area of concern to you," he admonishes, "the way the Tea Party Patriots works is that you guys really lead the organization. We're a relatively small group of people who are just trying to help coordinate. We're not in charge; we're not telling anybody what to do. You need to take a leadership role and stand up." Meckler suggests that Rick gather a group of people concerned about the issue and go to work.

Rick gets the message. "We'll get on the Ning [social-networking] site and try to take the lead on that."
 The interesting thing about the Tea Party movement is not that it’s spontaneous, not that it’s organic, but that it’s not at all novel.  As Rick in Albuquerque may soon discover, he might become a volunteer expert on voter-roll irregularities, and have his understanding and methods of dealing with other problems change.  And if he is successful, Rick may find himself chosen as a subject matter expert by other volunteers interested in the same problem, and bringing his newly-found expertise to other races and other areas of the country, if not in reality, at least virtually.  

 Rick is just one of hundreds of volunteers who are “The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society.”  In the formless, leaderless structure of the Tea Party, it’s not the goals, or the races, or even the politics that matter the most.  It’s that the people are rediscovering “the habits which free institutions have engendered” one conference call, one social-networking post, one political action at a time.  It’s no accident that the new organization of the Ruling Class is hierarchical and precise, while the new organization of the Country Class has turned out to be so chaotically democratic.  Politics is, after all, just the practical application of a given philosophy.  

Democracy as It Will Be?
Where is all this taking us?  The obvious answer is all the way to November 2nd.  If you are interested in politics or the election, but don’t feel you have enough background or experience, that’s no excuse.  As Tocqueville said, everyone was involved in politics in one form or another, and not only did they learn from it, they became better citizens and built a better republic as a result.  For my part, the recognition that the system is, if not broken, far from perfect has made me recognize the need for balance in future policies that may emanate from the political realm, particularly regarding campaign finance.  

But the real big picture we see is something more than just “man a phone bank” or “knock on doors” or even “here’s my new wonkish policy solution.”  What all of these things paint is a picture of our Country Class as an active political society, diverse and unique in every way imaginable, independent-minded, and interested in any number of important and practical subjects.  Corn prices matter.  But so do elections.  Maybe we shouldn’t be as afraid to say so.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Country Roads, Take Me Home

There’s pride in wherever you grew up: your home turf; your ‘hood. Whatever you call it, no matter how much you may have despised it growing up, home will always have a special place in your heart. Just look at the national pride that erupted for Chile the past week when the Chilean miners were finally rescued. Chileans loved Chile! American reporters even showed their national pride by mentioning how American companies and people helped in the rescue efforts.

For anyone who has ever left home, the image of Dorothy clicking her heels chanting ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.’ is a familiar chant in their own mind. Go back home. There’s comfort there.

Last week, I was delivering a meal I had made for a friend. To get to her house, I had to take a gravel road for only about a mile. When I was driving I looked down and laughed. I was driving 40 miles per hour. Darn city slicker!!! I remembered fondly growing up and driving at least ten miles of country roads (one way) every day and cruising at a speed of 60+ mph. It didn’t faze me to speed on gravel roads. Now, my lack of familiarity had me nervous going at only 40.

Then, a beautiful thing happened. The song ‘Country Roads, Take Me Home’ by the late John Denver popped into my head. After a few tries on my phone on Pandora, I hit the song. I savored it. It is so sweet. Growing up in Colorado, ‘Rocky Mountain High’ also is a sweet song for me, but I decided to focus on the first for now. I had to look up the lyrics. They are so good.

“Almost heaven, West Virginia” (Or in my mind Colorado)
“Blue Ridge Mountains” (Rockies)
“Shenandoah River” (Frenchman Creek—hey that’s all I had growing up!)
“Life is old there.
Older than the trees.
Younger than the mountains
Growing in the breeze.”

“Country Roads, take me home. To the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain momma. Take me home, Country Roads”

“All my memories gathered ‘round her. Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water.
Dark and dusty. Painted on the sky. Misty taste of moonshine. Teardrops in my eye.” (There’s no place like home)

“I hear her voice
In the morning she calls me
The radio (or Pandora) reminds me of my home far away
And drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’
That I should have been home, yesterday, yesterday.” (Grab a tissue because it’s getting sappy)

“Country Roads, take me home. To the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain momma. Take me home, Country Roads”

So on that note, I'm curious as to what some of your favorite songs are that bring you to that place you belong. Response encouraged.

Happy trails, R2 readers!