The correspondent who got me thinking about how safe it is for folks to move to South Dakota offers some armchair sociology comparing the quality of life in a comparable urban area in Michigan to the quality of life in Sioux Falls. My correspondent suggests that other cities may be safer than Sioux Falls because their foreign immigrants are better equipped to deal with the challenges of not just urban life but 21st-century life than the largely domestic, rural immigrants who drive growth in Sioux Falls:
This Michigan city is suburb of a major city that is known for its high crime rate. It is a “middle” suburb. It has a lot of manufacturing, but it also has a fair number of professionals. It is fairly balanced from an economic perspective. Not high end, but not low end either.When folks from out there visit this city, they often say “hey, this looks a lot like Sioux Falls”. According to the census bureau, 27% of the population is foreign born, compared to 8.5% for Sioux Falls. Most of these folk are from the Middle East. My guess is about 50% Muslim, and 50% Christian. There are also many Eastern Europeans, South Asian and East Asians as well. These folks are emigrating from densely populated urban areas.These immigrants don’t show up with a lot of resources usually, but they are not destitute either. Even though they may not have great language skills, but they understand the urban environment and know how to function in it. They are not intimidated by the public and private bureaucracies they have to navigate here.These folk usually work at lower end job for a while and build their social network. They eventually get a bachelor’s degree, usually in STEM field and/or start a small business. Their kids work in theses small business. Education is very valued by these folks, so the kids tend to be high academic achievers and often go to major universities, again majoring in STEM fields. They often get advanced degrees. The parents will often make huge sacrifices to make sure their kids will get these educational opportunities.These folks are simply too busy to be engaging in criminal activity. They tend to support the police. They take of their homes, and are vested in the success of the community and schools. Their families are very tight knit. It’s not Utopia. There are definitely significant problems, but the community is safe.
Sioux Falls has a different immigration situation. It appear that most of the folks are natural born Americans. Most of these folks are coming from small towns in the region.My take on this, based on my own experience moving to the big city and watching others move from small American towns and rural areas is this:Someone who emigrates from a major population center on the other side of the world and shows up not being able to speak English can function much better in large US city than someone coming from a small US community. Their small community can be as little as few hours away from this same large US city. The foreign immigrant simply has much better social functioning skills than the native born American from the small town.Sioux Falls is pretty good sized at 185,000. Here is why I think the crime rate is so much higher out there.Folks are coming from isolated small towns and rural areas in the region. They are coming one of two ways:1. Directly—They have grown up in these isolated rural communities with limited contact with the outside world. They have been pumped up with all kinds of screwy ideas about the rest of the world, but have no personal experience with that world. There are no opportunities in these small communities, so they give Sioux Falls a try. Sioux Falls is big enough and diverse enough to require urban survival skills these folks simply don’t have.2. Indirectly—these folks come from the same isolated communities, but they go off to another major urban center. It doesn’t go well. They have to come back, but their situation has gotten to the point they can’t go back to their small community, so they go to Sioux Falls. They bring back additional social challenges in the form of spouses, ex-spouses, and children.The final group are people who have no connection to South Dakota, but have seen the messaging coming out of the state that says:
- Are you dysfunctional?
- Can’t cope?
- Can’t get along with anyone to save your soul?
- Come to South Dakota, we welcome you.All these folks end up in together in Sioux Falls. Things don’t go well for a lot of them. They start to self medicate. The drug man needs his money. Pretty soon you have a self perpetuating crime wave that can’t be stopped.In the 21st century, we live in a densely populated, highly connected, technologically advanced, diverse world. In order to survive, people will need to have technical skills and high social functioning. In order to thrive, they will also need critical thinking skills and creativity. Hiding out in the boonies will not exempt folks from this [Dakota Free Press reader, 2021.05.02].