Much ado is being made about the ultrawealthy and the “knowledge workers” leaving cities for more affordable & spacious locations. It rarely amount to more than first-level thinking such as “good riddance to the One Percent” or “why weren’t they already telecommuting anyway?”
The strength of cities is its labor force. That’s why the factories were built there and it’s why Silicon Valley is full of people who theoretically could telecommute… they want to be part of the labor pool. While in theory a lot of tech-based jobs do not require meatspace socializing, the simple fact is that meatspace socializing is what people do. Blah blah efficiency but few people are naturally so misanthropic as to be happy toiling in physical isolation.
Thus, the telecommuters will flee to the suburbs but not farther, because they’re still human and wired to socialize.
The superwealthy don’t like cities. Never have, because they’re full of uncultured proles who alternate between envying them and sucking up to them. They go there to work but always maintain residences in pleasant (and remote) locations along with those stereotypical penthouses. I daresay those fleeing NYC banksters aren’t escaping to any newly purchased destinations.
But the purpose of cities as labor warehouses will continue because humans are human.
Plague doesn’t change any of the ancient equations. You’re born on a farm and die in a city, it’s always been that way, because farmers breed their own labor force and a city is short on space.
The cost of city living is a result of 1. the debt economy driving up prices, 2. banksters using real estate as hedges against the very inflation they profit from and 3. population mobility. The cost of California property would plummet if immigration was reversed and people were required to live in the houses they purchased.
The rich want cheap labor and expensive land. The middle class wants expensive labor and cheap land. Nobody cares what the poor want. If you see the middle class leaving, it’s because misanthropic Elites have taken control.
And on that note, the reason cities are liberal cesspits is because predators go where the food is. If you get your kicks from hurting innocent people then you won’t dedicate your life to becoming the Commissioner of Podunk County. No, you’ll move to the capitol and campaign for Mayor.
Every city-government-level election victory should be celebrated with an all-access investigation into the winner’s personality, known criminal associates and whether he tortured the family pet as a child. I look forward to the day when not having a detectable disgust reflex invalidates a man from holding office.
Let me try to teach these concepts to the slow class:
This Terrifying Economic Crisis Will Make Cities Better
By Hamilton Nolan, 18 August 2020
Nolan is formerly of Gawker?! This should entertain.
Have you heard? The golden age of the American big city is over. The pandemic and the protests are scaring people away. Residents are fleeing. Crime is up. Budgets are busted. The offices are empty, the rich are moving to the suburbs, and the period of unbroken prosperity has shattered forever.
Evil. Crime is up, the leaders have betrayed the people and the System in general is crashing.
Well — to be more precise — there is a strong potential for this to be good, if a few things break the right way. The pandemic is bad, as is the human suffering and the economic catastrophe — and it’s all likely to get worse. But the city? The city is going to be reborn for the better.
No. The Red Dawn is E.V.I.L. Nothing good can come of it.
To understand why this is true, you have to understand who cities are for: everyone. Cities are not theme parks for the rich, where everyone who makes less than six figures is simply a cast member with a service role. Cities are not architectural showrooms for bank branches. Cities are not apartheid states that provide the raw material to the prison-industrial complex. Cities are not just backdrops for Amazon’s new headquarters building.
Cities are for people whose work requires lots of labor, or who want to sell their labor. If you aren’t looking for a job then why not live cheaper in the boonies? Many retired people do.
Cities are — or should be — frenetic quilts where every type of person lives together. The magic, and the benefit, of cities is that they bring together rich and poor, young and old, artists and business people and college kids and retirees and hustlers, facilitating unpredictable relationships and smashing (to some degree) the bubbles that we form to separate ourselves from one another.
It never ceases to amaze, that liberals value diversity. I remember trying to convince a coworker that language diversity meant I couldn’t even say hello to my (Asian) neighbor, and that was bad for community-building. It positively HURT to explain something so blindingly obvious.
One would think that Chinatowns and Italian Quarters being typical features of city life would tip off the Kool-Aid drinkers that people don’t like to regularly confront cultural barriers.
That capability of cities has broken down in two ways. Some cities have been hollowed out by post-industrial decline, losing the primary drivers of their economies with nothing to replace them. This is the Detroit problem, and its empty downtowns and boarded-up homes can be seen in once-thriving cities across the country.
Yes, the loss of need for labor caused by, at first, unions driving labor costs too high, followed by “off-shoring”. Which is when Chinese cities began to enjoy exponential prosperity.
But other cities have been afflicted by the opposite problem: death by prosperity. From New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, a rapid influx of wealth into such cities has raised the cost of living in general, and the cost of housing in particular. In the most successful cities in America — the very places where it would make the most sense to encourage the most people to live — the rent is too damn high, and, for the average working person, buying a home is a mathematical impossibility.
Immigration driving down the price of labor. Also, banksters artificially inflating the cost of housing with tricks from environmental activism to inventing fraudulent renters.
This condition has reached the most absurd proportions in San Francisco, where there are virtually no homes in the entire city that one could purchase on a teacher’s salary. The same dynamic is true in large swaths of New York and other thriving cities. Unless you believe that cities should come with ready-made slums populated by the servant classes, you have to admit that a city without affordable housing is fundamentally flawed.
But WHY is there no affordable housing? Don’t just say “prosperity”. Say “immigration” and “investment properties” and “tax shelters”.
The most rational response to this influx of rich people into cities would have been to build a large amount of new housing, in order to prevent the prices of the city’s housing stock from skyrocketing as it was bid up by wealthier residents.
You can’t build more housing, as a general rule. There are hard upper limits, both physical and social.
Of course, that is not what happened. Instead, every city just allowed their housing prices to skyrocket until they faced deficits of hundreds of thousands of units that would need to be built in order to meet demand.
Tip-off! Labor market manipulation!
In the long term, that housing will indeed have to be built as cities grow; but the past decade is proof that in the short term, it will not happen, due in large part to the intransigence of existing homeowners, who make up the most potent force in any city’s local politics.
Earlier, he complained about the prison-industrial complex. Now he complains about homeowners not cooperating with the construction of ultra-high-density housing. News flash, increasing the size of the labor pool FURTHER will do nothing to raise the wages of laborers!
For years, it has seemed like many of America’s cities were doomed to become increasingly unaffordable playpens for the rich, able to be visited by normal people, but not lived in. Unless… there was an exodus of the upper class from major cities. Wow — that’s just what the pandemic has provided! All of the trend stories about New Yorkers fleeing the city “in droves” are not about the poor, nor about the middle class. They are about the wealthy, who have the means to go live wherever they want. And while this dynamic is being presented by some media outlets as a nightmare, the reality is that a reduction in the demand of upper class people to live in cities would serve as a release valve on housing markets, making these cities more affordable for everyone else.
The Elites have worked very hard in recent years to drive off the normies. Confiscatory taxation, slave labor both imported and home-grown homeless.
The middle class leaving the cities is a major priority for the rich because the remaining labor pool will be more easily exploited. Don’t confuse the Elites’ COVID-vacations in the Hamptons with a refusal to return to the cities.
Frankly, the only reason so many Elites insisted on living in NYC as long as they did is Jewish xenophobia and the profitability of insider trading on the stock markets. Look, social connections!
Lack of money can devastate a city. But money can devastate a city as well. Overwhelming prosperity drives out the cool people, prices out the artists and the dive bars, and promotes chain stores and luxury goods. It makes once-interesting and unique places look like everywhere else.
No, it’s poverty that brings homogenity. If you’ve seen one strip mall in the barrio then you’ve seen them all.
This has happened to Manhattan. It has happened to San Francisco. It has happened to gentrified neighborhoods in Atlanta, and in Denver, and in Los Angeles. But it can be reversed. The big chain stores are already shutting down in New York. In their place will be something cooler, because there is nothing less cool.
Of course, there is a steep downside to what is happening to cities right now. City budgets rely on tax revenue. When the businesses and the people in cities are not making money, and when the property values decline, tax revenue goes down, and budgets get cut. We are living through that now. New York City is poised to lay off more than 20,000 city workers, and they are not all bad cops. They are sanitation workers and ambulance drivers and transit workers and the other people who make the city run. Losing them will make the city a worse place to live. The city will be dirtier, crime will rise, the subways will break down, and countless needs will go unmet as services are slashed. If all of this were inevitable, it would certainly be a strong argument against the idea that there is any silver lining to all of this.
But it is not inevitable. City budgets can be rescued by the federal government.
Indeed, money to bail out city and state governments, to prevent the cutting of services outlined above, appears to be one of the main sticking points in the current stalled negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on a new Covid rescue package. If Republicans get their way, city budgets will have to be cut, and the downward spiral will commence, and any new housing affordability will come at the cost of a much more broken city that will hurt the most vulnerable residents. But if the federal government does the wise thing — most likely under a future President Joe Biden —then we could enjoy the exodus of a good number of wealthy people from our cities and the subsequent relief in housing prices without the awful cuts to mass transit and other services.
Subsidies never lower prices. Put down the tax money bong. Step away from the tax money bong. You are nothing but a useful puppet to your Elite handlers.
In that scenario, we could legitimately be entering a new golden age of cities — affordable for normal people, open to art and music and culture once again, and without Chase branches and tech bros littering the streets. The dream would be realized.
And yet, the homeless bums would remain to “revitalize” downtown with vibrant culture!
So keep yelling at the rich to scare them away, but be sure you also yell at Congress. If we don’t get that bailout money, things are gonna suck. But if we do, you may finally get a chance to live without a roommate.
But the supply of cheap, exploitable labor will remain behind.