Kristoff Focuses on Urban and Rural Divide

Oregon State University chose native Oregonian and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff, to give its annual lecture honoring former Governor Tom McCall.   Kristoff focused on the urban rural divide.  He grew up with Yamhill families in the 70s.

 “Their dad had a union job laying pipe, mostly sewer pipe.  Mom drove tractor on a filbert farm.  And they were able to parlay that into buying their own home.”

They expected their kids would have the same chances:

“There was a real sense of opportunity, to build a better life.”

But the economy changed, and many of his childhood friends, died deaths of despair.

“He died of liver failure, from drug and alcohol abuse.  His 29 year old daughter then followed him, and drank herself to death.”

And it’s not just Oregon:  “Every three weeks we lose more Americans today from alcoholism, from overdoses, and from suicides, than we lost in 20 years of war.”

Kristoff says solutions could result from Oregon State University’s own programs, successfully “Coming up with business models for parts of the state that have been left behind.”

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