[imgcontainer left] [img:creditcarddebt.gif] [source]New York Times[/source] The cities that have the highest average credit card debt are a lot larger than the cities with the least credit card debt. [/imgcontainer]

It appears to be true. People who live in small towns don’t get into debt like they do in the larger cities. 

The New York Times had a story yesterday about the “mixed story” told by the geography of credit card debt. Americans carried an average of $4,284 on credit card statements in December. But there were differences in that average from place to place.

The Times looks at cities. People in San Antonio had the highest debt, at $5,177. The other cities on the high end of credit card debt were all rather large. (And, to our eye, many seemed to be close to military bases.)

The cities with the smallest average debt were on the smallish side of things, places like Green Bay and Paducah. See the chart to the left with the cities having the highest and lowest debt. 

We’ve seen the same reports on housing. Housing prices and debt were much higher in larger urban areas than in smaller towns.

• The Senate approved the two-week, stop-gap spending bill yesterday, which included $4 billion in new spending cuts. 

Included in those cuts was $29 million to help rural communities develop broadband. 

The Washington Post notes that the broadband program so far has mostly been good for bringing broadband to the cities. “In 2009, the inspector general found that loans had paid for broadband installations in more than 140 communities near cities, including suburbs of Chicago and Las Vegas,” writes David Fahrenthold. “And 77 percent of the chosen sites already had broadband through another provider.”

• The New York Times continues its series on the environmental issues that come with natural gas drilling. Today’s story shows that “More than a quarter century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope, and important findings have been removed.”

Report Ian Urbina reviews the history of how natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing have escaped both scrutiny and regulation. For example, last year the federal Environmental Protection agency had planned to call for a moratorium on hydrofracking in the watershed serving New York City, but that recommendation was removed from the final letter sent to the state, Urbina reports.

“Now some scientists and lawyers at the E.P.A. are wondering whether history is about to repeat itself, as the agency undertakes a broad new study of natural gasdrilling and its potential risks, with preliminary results scheduled to be delivered next year,” Urbina writes. 

• Lynch, Kentucky, has produced a wonderful, short film about the town. Give it a look, here. 

• Iowa writer Matt Vasilogambros on what to do about the “rural brain drain.” One solution is to get away from the everyone-must-go-to-college system of education and to develop training and schools for jobs that exist in small communities. 

• Iowa voters approved a trust fund for outdoor recreation and conservation projects last fall. A new poll, however, finds that most Iowans would oppose a rise in the sales tax that would put money in the fund. 

The trust fund would buy land for parks, build trails and pay for soil conservation and water quality projects. 

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