23 February 2009

Urban Living: Not Just For Yuppie Pricks and the Homeless Anymore

Suburbia a Thing of the Past

Some egghead at The Atlantic has a pretty interesting read on how the recent economic collapse is going to change the demographics of America. He traces America's internal migration all the way back to the Industrial Age, which saw people leaving their subsistence farming lifestyles for cities, to the post-WWII era, which saw the rise of the burbs. He cites the decline of rust belt cities (Detroit, Buffalo, Dayton) due to a shrinking manufacturing sector, and the rise of the sun/geezer belt (Vegas, Phoenix and its associated burbs) due to real estate speculation. Basically, he says we need to nix the idea of owning a home as somehow being the American dream and we are all going to end up in the city. Seeing how home-ownership is on the moral plane of spreading anthrax with all the negative press its getting, renting more modest dwellings in the city might not be such a bad idea. From The Atlantic:
For the generation that grew up during the Depression and was inclined to pinch pennies, policies that encouraged freer spending were sensible enough—they allowed the economy to grow faster. But as younger generations, weaned on credit, followed, and credit availability increased, the system got out of hand. Housing, meanwhile, became an ever-more-central part of the American Dream: for many people, as the recent housing bubble grew, owning a home came to represent not just an end in itself, but a means to financial independence.

On one level, the crisis has demonstrated what everyone has known for a long time: Americans have been living beyond their means, using illusory housing wealth and huge slugs of foreign capital to consume far more than we’ve produced. The crash surely signals the end to that; the adjustment, while painful, is necessary.
Wired had a similar ethos a few months back, but that was due to living urban being more environmentally friendly. But this doesn't address the rampant corruption on the city councils in some of America's larger cities, and the obscene city taxes in others. With owning a home being infeasible and living in the city being too damn expensive, the only option seems to be fleeing the country. That's my plan, how about you?


Shea said...

I've been reading, and searching, about how the US has more oil than all of the OPEC nations combined, but most of it is off limits, mostly owned and controlled by the govt, etc, Most notably the bakkan formation, the oil shale in the rocky mountains, off shore, and of course ANWAR, The US basically has enough, "recoverable oil" which is only a fraction of the total, at current technologies, to last at what was our peak consumption for 300 years without ever importing a drop of oil, not to mention all the natural gas.
Just curious to what your thoughts are about this, and if you knew about it?

Anonymous said...

No, the only option is not to flee! Stay and fight. It is not a lost cause.

You're going, but you have a job and one hopes that someday you'll be back, wife and kids trailing behind, but I'm sure there are some people that will prob. want to see what living in Canada is like for a while.


Nixon said...


I think the argument against converting shale to petroleum products is that it causes too much pollution. No real silver bullet for our energy woes, but I think we should get more into nuclear. We do import from some pretty shady countries.

Shea said...

I'd like to be an expatriate.
How do you go about getting a job in another country, preferably one that is western.

Nixon said...

I got lucky, but I know a lot of multi-national corporations like sending people overseas of you are willing. Most people aren't because they have families or some such nonsense.

Ms. Kiyum said...

Families are nonsense. :-) Glad to see you're back.