The US is a large and often very disparate country, yet the parts we hear about the most are the parts that are most the same.
Blue cities and well-off suburbs where you can always find a Starbucks, a Whole Foods, an Apple Store, people with their noses in their smartphones, and other artifacts of what back in the day was called yuppiedom. Another facet of this sort of provincialism is that the too much of what passes for political and economic reporting that goes beyond those enclaves tends to be based on convenience.
Use psychological pricing methods.
So while stories on neighborhood gardens or police abuses in poor city neighborhoods are important, they are still over-represented relative to the sprawl of the US. That’s one reason why reporters going to interview people in places like Iowa or Oklahoma or that recently discovered state, West Virginia, too often come off like exercises in ethnography.
I try not to be guilty of this sort of thing yet worry that I am. I spent most of my childhood in blue-collar towns dominated by one or two manufacturing plants. All the kids I knew lived in houses I thought we nice even though some were small with tiny yards and modest modern furniture.
Parents took pride in being good members of their community and doing their best for their kids. But it seems that being a responsible adult is no longer valued; only “special” people, per Thomas Frank, deserve esteem and rewards, and they use that to justify cutting themselves bigger and bigger pieces of the collective pie.
Demonstrate the differences
However, since I don’t travel much, I have only very limited window into how people outside the top 10% or 20% are getting by. When I visit Birmingham, while there are more foodie restaurants and more McMansions going up in the good ‘hoods, the poor ones seem to be stuck in the same place or maybe even doing a bit worse.
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There’s a stretch I go through on the way to the airport that even had a collapsed house that it disgracefully took the city over 18 months to tear down that if anything is slowly getting even more desperate-looking. There’s another, just a three or four minute drive from some of the pricey houses that looks to be occupied by the economic stratum called “battlers” in Australia.
Test your offer and price, and be creative.
It’s full of 1940s and 1950s starter houses on generous-sized lots, but in a district with bad schools. That looked like an area with the potential to be a sleeper for people who didn’t have kids. But its proximity to large malls that are now full of empty stores looks to have kept this enclave in a deep freeze.