The Western Myth of Independence

There is a living myth in the rural west. It is rooted in the stories of pioneer families, but it is manifested in contemporary life and politics in the form of a conservative self-reliant ethic expressed in a hearty dislike for big government, welfare and handouts of any kind. It is a myth believed in all honesty and without intent to deceive others or self. And it is utterly blind to the water made available for irrigation through massive diversion projects funded by the taxpayers of America. The same is true for rural electrification and the availability of abundant, reasonably priced electric power from great networks of dams, all built by the federal government with taxpayer money. The land the pioneers so stubbornly worked to transform from wilderness to farm and ranch land was made available by act of Congress through the Homestead Act. The railroads that permitted goods to be shipped to market, and the later roads and highways, were enabled and largely financed through governmental means. The story could go on and on making the same point over and over again. Nevertheless, the myth is a great myth. I does embody and glorify some of the most worthy attributes of the American character. It should be honored, but never taken too seriously. The simplest of facts is that the rural west exists as it is today largely because it was underwritten through the agency of the government by taxpayers who lived elsewhere

1 thought on “The Western Myth of Independence”

  1. Your post is interesting to me in regard to one of the books I am currently reading – The Worst Hard Time – by Timothy Eagan. It outlines dustbowl years in Kansas, TX, etc. with land given or sold literally \”dirt cheap\” to those who would farm it by government….

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