People Move

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While the story that Flint, Michigan, is considering bulldozing entire neighborhoods, blocking them off, and withdrawing city services from them is a sad and stark indicator of what’s happening in cities where the combination of the declining auto industry and the mortgage crisis are causing large population shifts, I’m not sure why Mary Kane thinks federal dollars would help avert it, or even why she thinks averting it is a good idea.

What interest does the federal government have in the city limits of Flint, Michigan?  What interest do we, as a society, have in keeping the residents of Flint, Michigan, living in Flint, Michigan, when their reason for being there is gone?

None, as far as I can tell.

We want people to move to other places as economic forces shift jobs from one location to another.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  It’s long been one of the strengths of the American economy — we have a pretty mobile population.  Flint, Michigan, has been the beneficiary of that job-oriented mobility for the past . . . almost 100 years, I guess.  When Henry Ford created a booming auto industry in Detroit, people from all over the US — especially from the South, and especially African-Americans from the South — flocked to places like Detroit and Flint for the high-wage jobs.  As a result, Flint boomed and prospered.  The places those people left behind shrank.

As the American auto industry winds down, Flint and Detroit are going to shrink — both demographically and economically — while other cities will expand.  Neither the federal government nor the American taxpayer at-large has any vested interest in preventing that.

What we do have an interest in is: helping Flint shrink in a responsible, rational way, if help is needed; and helping the people displaced by macroeconomic shifts find suitable work elsewhere as quickly as possible, and helping tide them over while that happens.  It seems to me we’re already doing the latter (though perhaps more could be done), and Kane’s own reporting indicates Flint is doing a good job at managing its contraction.  (What would be worrisome would be reports that Flint was trying to keep all its neighborhoods intact even after the residents had left.)

I see no reason why we should be trying to prevent jobs — and the economic development that ensues — from leaving Flint and going elsewhere.  There are still lots of places in America that have never had the luck of a huge, high-wage industry landing in their lap and staying for a hundred years.  Maybe it’s their turn.

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One Response to “People Move”

  1. oto kiralama Says:

    thanx very cool

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