Posts tagged ‘Detroit’

Detroit – And this, too, shall pass away.

A longtime friend who worked in regional planning remarked on the propensity of Detroit to try gimmicks: the historic trolley, the People Mover, the Poletown Cadillac works, the push for casinos. It’s probably too harsh to suggest the civil rights establishment said and did nothing in that era; it may be more accurate to say that people who had ambitions, no matter their ancestry or their politics, opted to exit rather than stay and attempt to change the established ways.

GOVERNMENT FAILURE.

What happened to one of the most prosperous areas on earth?

If you listen to the interwebs, the answer is “terrible, Democratic-run urban politics.” Or “union-busting anti-labor policies” in Southern states that transformed solid middle-class jobs in the Midwest into near-minimum-wage jobs in states such as Alabama and Tennessee. Or maybe “racism.” Or “the urban underclass.”

All of these answers are impossibly reductive. The city of Detroit has no one problem; it has a constellation of them. Here, in no particular order, are some of the most important factors.

Continue reading ‘Detroit – And this, too, shall pass away.’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Detroit Bankrupt

Tags: ,

“Racial slander is like duct tape”

“Racial slander is like duct tape: There’s no limit to what you can do with it.”
Jonah Goldberg

This story exemplifies the fundamental racial dynamic in America today. It is one of mutual fear and mistrust: Blacks are on the defensive about white racism, while whites are on the defensive about the accusation of racism, almost universally regarded as a grave moral offense.

Continue reading ‘“Racial slander is like duct tape”’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Los Angeles is in the very best of hands, unlike NY. And Detroit.

[T]he most important political battle in America today isn’t the much-ballyhooed battle for the soul of the GOP. It is the blue civil war, pitting key elements of the Democratic coalition against one another as the old social model fails and the growth curve of rising blue model costs runs up against fiscal limits. Blue model policies, whatever their merits, don’t generate the revenue that can support blue model institutions and methods, and when those shortfalls appear, the coalition divides. It’s happened in Wisconsin, it’s happened in Indiana; it’s happened in Michigan and it is happening in California.
. . .
For decades, Democrats have straddled a divide: they sought to represent both the producers of government services and the low and middle income citizens who depend on those services. Democrats want the votes and the contributions of teacher unions, and they want the votes of the parents whose kids attend public schools. As long as the blue model worked, the contradictions could be managed.

Increasingly, however, the contradictions have come to the fore. Teacher unions want life employment for incompetent teachers; their representatives negotiate farcically unsound pension arrangements with complaisant politicians and want taxpayers to pony up when the huge bills come due. Other producers of government services also have their sweetheart deals.

The result is that the consumers of government services, many of whom of course are Democrats, are getting a raw deal. They are paying too much money in taxes to support a system of government that, however outstanding and dedicated some people in it may be, simply cannot deliver acceptable services at a reasonable cost. The Democratic claim to represent both sides fairly is getting harder to sustain.

Blue Civil War: The Battle for California

Beadledom in action!

Ever walk down a Los Angeles city sidewalk? It may feel like climbing the Himalayas.

Tree roots have uplifted many city sidewalks across L.A., turning a quick walk around the neighborhood into a treacherous experience. According to The Los Angeles Times, the city receives about 2,500 claims a year from people who hurt themselves on these cracks.

LA’s New Crack Epidemic: Sidewalks
Continue reading ‘Los Angeles is in the very best of hands, unlike NY. And Detroit.’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Baby Boom and Baby Bust

Who is going to pay all that money in to Social Security for Boomer retirement?

Alarm bells are beginning to ring in policy circles over the decline of the U.S. birth rate to a record low. If unaddressed, this could pose a vital threat the nation’s economic and demographic vitality over the next few decades.
. . .
Yet since children are by definition the bearers of the future, knowing where new families and households are forming should be of critical interest not only to demographers, but to investors, businesses and, over time, even politicians. Demographer Wendell Cox crunched Census data for Forbes on the youth populations of the 51 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. His analysis reveals sharp differences between various regions of the country, and suggests where future growth in the country may be the strongest.

The youth population expanded in 31 of the 51 metro areas from 2000 to 2010. The 10 regions that posted the strongest growth were in Texas, the Southeast and the Intermountain West. Leading the nation is Raleigh, N.C., where the number of children under 15 rose a whopping 45%, or 77,421. Texas is experiencing something of a baby boom, paced by Austin, second among America’s largest metro areas with a youth population expansion of 38%; Dallas-Ft. Worth (sixth); Houston (eighth); and San Antonio (11th).
. . .
What do these trends mean for the future? New York has lost about as many children as Dallas-Ft. Worth has gained — a difference of a half million. The gap between increasingly childless Los Angeles and Houston is even wider, and approaches 600,000. These numbers suggest a tremendous shift in the future locations of new American households, with all that implies for retail sales, workforce growth and residential construction demand.
. . .
Why is household formation and child-rearing so anemic in these places, which are often celebrated for being attractive to the young and dominate so many key industries? One key reason, suspects demographer Cox, is housing prices relative to incomes. This is largely due to high regulatory costs that discourage new housing supply, particularly the single-family homes preferred by most families. Housing costs relative to incomes are more than two times higher in New York or Los Angeles than in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta or, for that matter, virtually all the metropolitan areas most attractive to families.

America’s Baby Boom And Baby Bust Cities

Today roughly 18.5% of the U.S. population is over 60, compared to 16.3% a decade ago; by 2020 that percentage is expected to rise to 22.2%, and by 2050 to a full 25%.

Yet the graying of America is not uniform across the country — some places are considerably older than others. The oldest metropolitan areas, according to an analysis of the 2010 census by demographer Wendell Cox, have twice as high a concentration of residents over the age of 60 as the youngest. In these areas, it’s already 2020, and some may get to 2050 aging levels decades early.

For the most part, the oldest metropolitan areas — with the exception of longtime Florida retirement havens Tampa-St. Petersburg and Miami — tend to be clustered in the old industrial regions of the country. These are regions that have suffered mightily from deindustrialization and the movement of people toward the South and West. These metro areas now make up eight of the 10 oldest among the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

The oldest city in America is Pittsburgh, where 23.6% of the metro area’s population is over 60 (see the full list in the table below). The old steel capital is followed by such former robust manufacturing hubs as Buffalo (No. 3 on our list), Cleveland (fifth), and Detroit (ninth).

How did these places get so old? The biggest factor: migration deficits. More Americans have been leaving these cities than moving there, and people who move tend to be younger. Meanwhile these graying cities attract relatively few immigrants from abroad. Pittsburgh, for example, ranks 34th among the 51 biggest metro areas in net domestic migration, losing some 2% of its population to other places over the past decade. It also stands 50th in foreign immigration over the same period. Buffalo has fared even worse: it’s 40th in domestic migration and 49th in new foreign-born residents.
. . .
More troublesome may be the labor force impacts of rapid aging, as there is a shortage of some skilled workers, both in the Rust Belt and tech centers, particularly younger ones. This reality is already causing problems in Europe, particularly in the economically devastated south, and also more prosperous East Asia, particularly Japan.

An older population, and fewer families, tend to depress economic growth, consumer demand and entrepreneurial creativity. Japan today is not only much older, but also more financially hard-pressed than in its ’80s heyday, heavily in debt and losing its once dominant position in several critical industries.

Aging America: The Cities That Are Graying The Fastest

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT).

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

What’s More Dangerous for an Economy, a Nuclear Strike or Big Government?

It’s not Democrats that ruined Detroit. It’s big government. As shown by the Bush years, you get equally bad results when Republicans expand the size and scope of Washington.

So I guess the moral of the story is that if you want prosperity, free markets and small government are a much better combination than big government and nuclear blasts.

What’s More Dangerous for an Economy, a Nuclear Strike or Big Government?

There is now a near merger between Wall Street and K Street. During the financial crisis, the government and the Fed have kept Wall Street well supplied with bailouts and nearly free access to capital that allows them to literally print risk free profits by recycling in the free loans into interest bearing government debt, all while Main St. businesses and homeowners have borne the full brunt of a credit crunch, state and local governments fiscally starve, and infrastructure funds dry up. Finance industry insiders have now obtained a near lock on the position of Treasury Secretary. When a president like Bush dares to appoint someone with actual industrial experience, Wall Street’s displeasure is made manifest, and it generally succeeds in undermining him. New laws like Dodd-Frank strangle new entrants to the field while enshrining the privileged status of the too big to fail. The fact that it allows government to seize these “systematically important financial institutions” shows not the industry’s weakness but its strength, as big banks de facto function as instrumentalities of the state, but with profits privatized and losses socialized. Not a single major figure in the events causing the financial meltdowns has gone to jail or even been prosecuted (only a collection of ponzi schemers and insider traders who, despite their criminality, had no systematic impact – the crisis blew up their scams, their scams did not cause the crisis). The list goes on.

The geographic proximity of New York to Washington, with quick trips back and forth on the Acela, facilitates this.

Is the Acela Killing America? Has the finance industry trainjacked America?

As anyone who rides Amtrak between New York and Washington knows, the trip can be a dissonant experience. Inside the train, it’s all tidy and digital, everybody absorbed in laptops and iPhones, while outside the windows an entirely different world glides by. Traveling south is like moving through a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. There’s Newark and Trenton and the heroic wreckage in parts of Philadelphia, block after block of hulking edifices covered in graffiti, the boarded-up ghost neighborhoods of Baltimore made familiar by “The Wire” — all on the line that connects America’s financial center and its booming capital city.
. . .
This model was flipped inside out as Wall Street and D.C. became central drivers, not secondary supports, of the nation’s economy. Now, on its route between them, the train passes directly through or near 8 of the 10 richest counties in the United States, but all of this wealth is concentrated near the endpointsof the journey: Manhattan’s satellites in northern New Jersey and the towns where lobbyists and government contractors live in suburban Virginia and Maryland. This is a geographic representation of a telling contradiction. For the past 30-plus years, through Republican and Democratic administrations, there has been much lip service paid to the idea that the era of big government is over. Long live free enterprise. And yet in the case of those areas surrounding the capital, wealth has gravitated to the exact spot where government regulation is created. Why? Because many businesses discovered that renegotiating the terms between government and the private sector can be extraordinarily lucrative. A few remarkable books by professors at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business argue that a primary source of profit for Wall Street over the past 15 to 20 years could be what I call the Acela Strategy: making money by exploiting regulation rather than by creating more effective ways to finance the rest of the economy.

Empire of the In-Between

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT).

Tags: , , , , , , ,