Friday, September 11, 2009

Panic In Florida

Update: The Urbanophile points to an article that nicely illustrates the point about the changing landscape of Florida and the prospect of new greenfields outside of the state.

Is there such a phenomenon as a migration panic? If there is, then Florida is the model head case. A lot of Florida's fiscal health is dependent upon robust in-migration. Lately, the books don't look so good. So much for the state's much ballyhooed tax regime.

The supposed connection between economic policy and net out-migration is dubious. California is held up as an example as badly managed state that pushed people out to relative tax havens. Meanwhile, libertarians conveniently ignore Florida save the contention that everything will get back to normal once the national economy picks up pace.

American greenfields are subsidized by its brownfield communities. Like a freshly minted suburb, the Sun Belt provided an escape from the legacy costs of the Rust Belt. The tables are now turning:

More important, though, Pittsburgh is seen as a city with a clear sense of place and a population that takes pride in its accomplishments. An article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that the city lives in the present but loves the past. There is an inherent commitment to making home the very best it can be.

That, it seems, is where Florida is missing out. Too many people who live here treat it as a temporary residence, even if they intend to stay for the rest of their lives. It is considered simply a playground, one to be used and enjoyed without any thought to reinvestment so that it will be here for future generations of sun seekers.

Florida deserves better. It deserves people who are committed to making it the best it can be. It deserves residents who say, "I'm from Florida," even if they grew up and raised their families in another locale. They should be willing to invest their tax dollars in education and recreation and preservation, and they should be willing to donate their time and treasure to those in need.

You read that right. Florida is afflicted with Pittsburgh envy. If you ever wondered if the media love fest is for real, you now have your proof. When Florida grows up, it wants to be Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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