Monday, November 28, 2011

Sun Belt Zombie Sprawl

Nowhere is American decline as evident as it is in the Sun Belt. Neo-Marxists keep trotting out Detroit to demonstrate the folly of global capitalism. Instead, they should look at Phoenix:

In the West, a comparison between Detroit and Phoenix is a hard sell.

"I tend to assume that we will grow again," said Jim Holway, from the Tucson-based Sonoran Institute, a group that promotes sustainable development in the Rocky Mountain region.

"Is it possible the forces that drove the growth in the West really have come to an end, and we’re going to face decline? I think it’s unlikely, but I can’t say it’s impossible," said Holway, a longtime planner in the region. "Certainly this is a time for creative thinking."

If mobility was once considered to be a quintessentially American attribute, it is now one that only an elite sliver of the population can lay claim to. It is both a significant shift and a sobering one.

All that is left is boutique migration. Population growth is almost meaningless in such a climate. But don't expect the Sun Belt boomtowns to embrace the paradigm shift. Steel will come back. American's need to make things again. Just buy local. The migrants will return.

The "creative thinking" is nothing more than wishful thinking. We've seen it all before in the Rust Belt. I'm having a hard time finding a Pittsburgh in all the greenfield mess. Which city might emerge in 40-years as successfully reinventing itself?

As for brownfield cities, even those located in the Sunburn Belt, the future looks bright. These regions have figured out how to grow the economy without robust inmigration. The revenge of the uncool city is coming to fruition.

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