Life in Utah is very, very hard. The majority of the state works in agriculture, producing food for themselves and others. It’s a hardscrabble existence. Military service is mandatory, for men and women, and despite its importance as a trading center, Utahns are by and large materially poor.
In a way, it’s a modern American Israel. Utah is a lone polity, dominated by a majority religion, geographically isolated from similar polities, surrounded by enemies and under constant attack.
The enemies, in this case, are the monsters that emerge from three nearby vortex clusters (in the Salt Flats, Zion parkland, and the Wasatch Mountains). Incursions from these clusters can be expected twice a year, or more.
The state lacks a dedicated vortex-jumper unit, like the BP or Texas Rangers (though individual Utahns are as trained or better), instead military service being the responsibility of all Utahns. (They are not averse to hiring Guns as needed). The populace is on constant alert for attacks, and every male Utahn above the age of 15 is inducted into the State Guard. (Females above the age of 15 join the auxiliaries, where they fulfill support roles.)
Even after mustering out, at the age of 20, Utahns are perpetually in the reserves (and allowed to keep their service weapons, another similarity with Israel and Switzerland). Utahns are a well-armed people.
The state is a crossroads, the primary link between the East and West. (And hence sees a lot of convoy traffic. It’s pretty easy for Guns to find employ in Utah, so long as vortex-jumping, bounty-hunting, and convoy duty are acceptable employments.) It trades primarily with the State of California (part of the Fed), the Seattle Domain, and the Free City of Denver. Utah has a large domestic arms industry, driven by Browning Arms in Morgan, and Browning weapons are among the most common and best-regarded post-Collapse weapons in the shattered country.
Other than technology, Utah has regressed to the lifestyle of the pioneer era. Farmwork is the most common employment (about 51%), followed by shopkeeping. All family members work from the time they are old enough to stand on their own.
Families produce most of what they need themselves, the chief exception being technological items. Children receive a strong primary education (by religious decree), but seldom attend college. People marry young, 15 or 16 on average, and start their own farm (or otherwise establish a household).
Clothing styles are modern cut (aping the styles of pre-Collapse America), but made of homespun cloth. Technological devices are expensive, and (other than pre-Collapse relics) very uncommon. Vehicles are rare, reserved for official use. Firearms are ubiquitous, but the state has a very low crime rate and a harsh, but fair judicial system. (Which makes extensive use of Gun contracts for bail-jumpers and fugitives. Utah hired Guns have claimed fugitives in New York’s jungles, the ghoul cities of Boston and Chicago, and even Mexico. Utahns don’t mind paying for justice.)
If you can stomach living like an 1840’s frontier farmer, and don’t mind the occasional mind-breaking beast from out a vortex, life in Utah is among the best in the Fed. There is no residency fee, meaning you are safe in your home and land, and there is little of the corruption that plagues politics and daily life in California and New York. The police provide good security and don’t demand bribes to do their job.
There is a small safety net, unlike the rest of the Fed. (Church members donating 10% of their annual increase to the Church, and donating more monthly for the care of the poor. Catholics and other religions also maintain missions and charities.) You are free to prosper, even if your definition of “prosperity” has to be adjusted sharply downwards.
Life in Utah is not pretty, not glamorous, not romantic. It it a harsh, desert land, frequently beset by ravening monstrosities, lost in the middle of the vast post-Collapse wilderness of 2039 North America.
[This is the last Utah post. Tomorrow, I want to talk about guns, lowercase.]