As Kotkin highlights, there’s the service economy, and then there’s the high-end economy they’re serving, with less and less in-between. More taxation is an attractive option and the path of least resistance for many city politicians. He argues that working and/or middle management and/or middle income jobs are hard to find, and especially hard to find outside of public service and government. Once that economy goes away, so goes the heart and soul of your city (see Detroit). He argues that Chicago has got to get competitive for business again.
I suspect many libertarians and conservatives will argue that the liberal focus on the arts, culture, equality, education under the banner of rights-based liberty is being done post-mortem in many cases. It won’t bring back the jobs and opportunity that made the city hum, and beneath those liberal ideals, where the sausage is made, are politicians fighting for less and less pie, voting for higher property taxes, cronyism, unions, and union protectionism etc. Like New York nearly did in the 70’s, or like Harrisburg did recently, borrowing itself into bankruptcy, cities can end up in tough times. The liberal/progressive model doesn’t help.
The city that gave us the Chicago School is facing some real challenges as is most of the rust belt.
Of course, I think it’s fair to say that not everyone has the analytical/quantitative reasoning ability and corresponding education to succeed in the developing tech marketplace and explosion of biotech and the sciences either, even if the U.S. educational system is able to re-prioritize away from its old ways (both ideological and practical) and make us more competitive again.
Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model from the ground up in NYC.
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