ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
next time i think people who come from the east coast can really understand midwesterners, i'll just read this column by nicholas kristof, and i will be magically cured.
kristof's attempt to revive the "buffalo commons" made me choke on my earl grey and laugh out loud (thanks to paul for the cite, btw). the basic proposition seems to be that if we can just find a way to institute the buffalo commons that, objectively, would be good for north dakotans, then, hey, why not do it already?
the problem is not that the buffalo commons is a bad idea. (because it's not a bad idea.) the problem is that midwesterners, by and large, would rather swim in sewage than have easterners repopulate their land with irritating critters. frankly speaking, i don't think north dakotans want their ranches and farms converted to tourist operations. i don't remember folks from home being wildly excited by the idea that the cities and towns they have built are "failures," either.
the buffalo commons was a huuuuge joke right about the time i moved to north dakota in 1991 -- but it was only a huge joke on the surface. even people who thought it might, maybe, sort of, somehow, almost, conceivably be a minimally good idea got awfully angry thinking about the way it was presented: you have failed to build huge cities. you can still see all the stars at night, and the horizon in every direction. you are born and die in the same little towns, unless you move to minneapolis. you have failed!
in any case, kristof's implication that folks in places like rawson, ND (population six) would somehow appreciate the buffalo commons, if only it were done right, is pure crap. no self-respecting midwesterner thinks anything is done right unless it's conceived, planned and executed by midwesterners, preferably people who don't have graduate degrees or write for fancy-pants newspapers.
...which is too bad for them, but that's a story for another day.