... when I keep warning about the dangers of living in "big blue" cities, because few people appear to take my warnings seriously. Nevertheless, I'll keep providing evidence, in the hope that at least some of my readers may see the light in time, and get the hell out of them before it's too late.
Try this somber reflection for size.
Imploding Cities Will Drag All of Us Down — Even if You Don't Live Anywhere Near One
There is so much wrong with America’s cities, it’s hard to see why any contributing member of society would live and/or work in one of them. Some of the issues arise from far-Left local governance while others are generated by more widespread Leftist policy. These are coupled with an organic workforce evolution, as the United States transitions from an industry-based to an information-based economy. The result is urban areas caught in a downward spiral — and, as with any sinking vessel, threatening to suck everyone nearby down with them.
First, a quick refresher on the compounding problems of urban areas. Chief among them is that big cities are dark blue, and thus they’ve become crucibles of Left-wing policy failure. Uncontrolled crime, roving drug and mental-illness zombies, and swarms of sanctuary-recipient asylum scammers are crowding out reasonable people and businesses. The normals who remain to take advantage of access to cultural events (such as they are) and restaurant variety are also subject to totalitarian social controls and two-tiered justice systems that punish them when they fight back against criminals. But no matter how desperate the situation becomes, city councils can be counted on to double down on woke policies, then double down again.
Businesses are fleeing. In the ones that remain, shopping for basic goods has become a frustrating exercise in waiting for an associate to unlock the case so you can grab a razor and some toothpaste. Add in today’s high interest rates, which make owning and running a business prohibitively expensive, and the writing is on the wall ... The effects of the imminent collapse of the commercial urban real estate market will ripple out across the financial sector and affect just about everyone in one way or another.
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Cities must then make choices between cutting services and raising taxes — either of which will further drive out the remaining wealthy and productive residents and businesses. The cycle can be deadly. As in the 1970s, municipalities will start declaring bankruptcy — and that will add a drain on federal resources, which will have to be used to bail them out. This will be on top of the unemployment benefits to the urban retail and hospitality workers who lost their jobs ... When you realize that everyone’s pensions are involved, you understand that not bailing out these banks and cities was never going to be an option. They have us over a barrel. So we can expect a cool trillion or two to flow from Big G’s coffers. This, while we are still reeling from the inflation and high interest rates from the last crisis, the Great COVID Overreaction Rescue Plan.
There's more at the link.
Charles Hugh Smith puts it in monetary terms.
The Coming Crisis of Cities: Reinvention or Bankruptcy
In summary, here's what's happening: given the increasing speed of digital communications, the majority of the knowledge/FIRE economy work can be done from anywhere. This has long been the reality, but the pandemic lockdown accelerated the recognition of this reality.
Given the higher wages paid to knowledge workers and the absurdly high costs and life-limitations (kids and homeownership are unaffordable) of living in big cities, the incentives for those who were too young to buy a house for $150,000 that's now worth $1 million are to move to an affordable locale and abandon the marginal benefits of the city (novelty, entertainment).
The incentives for the poor living on social-welfare benefits and the working-poor who do "real-world" jobs is to stay put, as their opportunities are considerably diminished in less wealthy regions.
The problem is the poor and working-poor pay a relatively modest percentage of taxes. The high-wage earners who are incentivized to leave pay the majority of taxes.
Cities are terribly costly to operate, and most of these costs are fixed, meaning they stay the same regardless of how many customers use the services. About 75% to 80% of all municipal budgets (the general funds, not projects paid by borrowing money via selling municipal bonds) go to labor--government employees and their pension/healthcare costs.
Buses, subways and trains all have the same fixed costs and staffing whether they're full or empty.
. . .
Somebody has to pay more, or these services will go away. Municipal workers are unionized and will resist reductions in pay and benefits, even in municipal bankruptcy.
Remote work and the systemic inequality created by financialization and globalization are generating a doom-loop of incentives to leave before the inevitable collision with reality occurs: either services are slashed or taxes are raised, or more likely, both.
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There is a self-reinforcing feedback loop in raising taxes: at some threshold, high-earner households will conclude the benefits no longer outweigh the costs and they'll sell out and leave.
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As for the consequences of remote work, they are already visible in statistics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released employment and wage data nationally and in the most populous 350 counties in the US ... in the high-wage, high-cost Silicon Valley counties, the decline in wages is staggering:San Francisco: -22.6%
San Mateo: -20.7%
Santa Clara: -15.0%
High-cost states suffered significant wage declines:California: -6.9%
New York: -5.1%
Some of these declines may be the result of tech-sector layoffs, but the number of jobs in all these regions increased by over 2% from Dec. 2021 to Dec. 2022. The more likely primary cause may be companies paying lower wages when employees switch to remote work.
15% to 20% declines in wages paid are absolutely monumental. They add up to billions of dollars that are no longer available to pay taxes or fund city-centric "pleasures."
These statistics raise big questions about the viability of housing prices staying so high that only the top 10% can afford to buy homes. How many in-migrants will earn top-10% salaries? How many out-migrants are taking their earnings somewhere where they can hope to afford a family and a house?
Who's going to be left who is willing and able to pay much higher taxes and fees to pay the sky-high legacy costs built up during the glorious 30 years of urban expansion fueled by speculative bubbles?
Again, more at the link.
Folks, if you can't read the writing on the wall by this point, I don't know how to reach you. Too many people are judging the cities they live in by the conditions around their suburban homes, where everything looks just peachy and hunky-dory. However, that ignores the festering plague spots of low-income, low-education, overcrowded, urban-decay, crime-infested areas where the people live largely on government benefits and have little to no hope of ever breaking free from that cycle of dependency. They're part of the same cities as those suburbs. When the stresses in those areas stretch too tight, or the benefits they depend on are no longer available (or are reduced in value thanks to inflation and rising prices), they display their displeasure by becoming more violent and anti-social. They blame "the system", or "the man" . . . never their own shortcomings, faults and failures. (To be fair, there's enough blame to go around: Lyndon Johnson's failed and discredited "Great Society" policies have a whole lot to answer for, as do our moribund education system and dependency-inducing entitlement programs - it's not just human failings.)
The result? To name just a few out of many possible examples:
Never forget that the infamous Cloward-Piven strategy was inspired by and arose out of the Watts riots. Its pernicious effects are now key to Democratic Party policies in the cities they control, and also underpin the tactics of groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
Friends, our cities have fallen so far that I seriously doubt they can be rescued. They'll have to hit rock bottom, and realize it, and take steps to cut away the deadwood that's crippling them, before they can rise again. If you stay, hoping for the best, I fear greatly that you may end up as part of the deadwood that's cut away.
I hope I'm wrong . . . but I doubt it. The evidence of what's coming is overwhelming. It won't happen overnight, or even in a year or two, but the overall trend is unmistakeable, and probably irreversible.
Leave our "big blue" cities while you still can, even if it means taking a financial loss in the process. Some things - your family, your and their lives, your security - are worth more than money.