14 April 2010

New Economics and Technology Lead A Demographic Reversal

Already, the growth capacity for “mega- cities” like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles may be approaching their limits as the urban megalopolis of cities, suburbs and exurbs become more crowded and expensive.

As huge urbanized regions become less desirable or unaffordable for many businesses and middle-class families, more and more Americans will find their best future in the wide-open spaces that, even in 2050, will still exist across the continent. The beneficiaries will include places as diverse as Fargo and Sioux Falls in the Dakotas to Des Moines, Oklahoma City, Omaha and Kansas City. _NewGeography
Mainstream thought insists that the trend toward urbanisation will continue into the foreseeable future. Mainstreamers cannot envision a reversal of that trend -- a departure from the cities back to small towns and countryside. And yet the economics and demographics of urban hyper-centralisation appears to be failing from Greece to Japan to Russia to Spain to Los Angeles.
One of the least anticipated developments in the nation’s 21st-century geography will be the resurgence of the American Heartland, often dismissed by coastal dwellers as “flyover country.”

Yet in the coming 40 years, as America’s population reaches 400 million, the American Heartland particularly the vast region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi will gain in importance.

To fully appreciate this opportunity, Americans need to see the Heartland as far more than a rural or an agricultural zone. Although food production will remain a crucial component of its economy, high-tech services, communications, energy production, manufacturing and warehouses will serve as the critical levers for new employment and wealth creation.

...The critical sources for the evolving resurgence of the Heartland lie both in new technology and traditional strengths.

The advent of the Internet, which has broken the traditional isolation of rural communities, has facilitated the movement of technology companies, business services and manufacturing firms to the nation’s interior. This will reinforce not so much a movement to remote hamlets but to the growing number of dynamic small cities and towns throughout the Heartland.

The other critical element concerns the traditional role of the Heartland as a producer of critical raw materials. As world competition for food and energy supplies intensifies, a critical primary advantage for the United States in contrast with China, India, Japan and the European Union will lie with the vast natural abundance of its Heartland regions.

New investment will flow back into the Heartland to tap previously difficult-to-access resources such as oil and gas, while new technologies will exploit prodigious natural sources such as wind. _NewGeography
The New Geography article leaves out an extremely important ingredient which will spur this demographic reversal -- the rise of bio-energy. Airheads such as Obama are still promoting large wind energy, but competent thinkers who are thinking about renewables, are looking toward bio-energy. One day soon, the public will wake up to find that biomass is being co-fired with coal, that waste biomass and dedicated biomass are being converted to energy via pyrolysis or gasification, and that biomass is being converted to liquid fuels, plastics, high value chemicals, and nutritious animal feeds.

Such growing bioenergy industries will be based in the heartland, and will provide the significant economic boost and employment that Obama is falsely promising from his "green jobs initiative." But Obama is an airhead, and not likely to ever grow out of his "unintended consequence" destructive phase.

Western populations are growing older, and smaller, thanks in part to urbanisation and the top down economic and bureaucratic structures that have grown up in nations with a focus on the urban. Getting back to the countryside should provide a resurgence of spirit, of industry, and of fertility which are all badly needed.

The dying, union-dependent urbanised states on both coasts and in the rust belt, will either break their addiction to bureaucratic stagnation and allow the return of individual initiative, enterprise, and new business -- or they will continue to die of their mountains of debt that they have no way of repaying.

The American Tea Party is just the early manifestation of the anger that productive America feels toward freeloader America in Washington DC. If the one-party reich controlled by the US Democratic Party carries through with its plans to try to infiltrate and discredit the Tea Party via "dirty tricks", it will discover hidden depths to America's dissatisfaction with its leadership class.

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Blogger read it said...

Growing small towns need to avoid the defined benefit pension schemes for their public employees that are overwhelming state and local governments. All gov't employees need to go to defined contribution plans.

Thursday, 15 April, 2010  
Blogger kurt9 said...

The rural areas will come back because the internet makes it possible for people to work out of their houses rather than from a central office. Rural areas will be more appealing to people with kids because its less expensive (can buy a bigger house with lots of yard for the kids), safer, and slower pace of life. Also, you do not have to drive everywhere all of the time.

Also, the "flyover" part of the country tends to have lower state taxes and less regulation on the state level.

Thursday, 15 April, 2010  
Blogger Tom Craver said...

There are other things I'll look for before choosing a smaller city, besides good internet service - though that's one of the keys.

Easy access to affordable air travel - if you don't live near a major airport today, you pay a large premium to fly to one before flying on to your destination. Pending a revolution in air travel (e.g. true auto-pilots, or some sort of self-organizing direct charter flights that avoid hubs at the cost of needing to schedule around the jointly determined flight schedule) - that means picking a small town within about 30-40 miles of a major airport.

Excellent medical care. This gets especially critical as one gets older, but I think most would prefer to have a good hospital within 10 miles and a great one within 80 miles. This too could, in theory, be improved by a quiet revolution in tele-medicine and inter-hospital agreements so that the local hospital won't try to treat you just because you can afford to pay, when you'd get much better care elsewhere.

Friday, 16 April, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would disagree on the "trend to urbanization will stop" meme of Al Fin.
The trend to urbanization will continue but people will move to new cheaper cities that will grow where now there are small or medium cities.

As Tom Craver pointed out, cities are good because they centralize the labor and make it more efficient. Internet is good for something, but sometimes you need the hard stuff where you are to be useful. Hospitals, cinemas, treaters, malls, police stations, firefighters, industries, ports and airports, railroads and highways and so on.

Moving stuff from Shanghai to LA by ship cost much less than moving the same stuff from LA to LV with trucks or trains. So a good place near the sea is always in great demand.

But I agree that current western cities can not last. They are a mess of bureaucratism that can not last: The main cause of the high cost of living in a city is the jungle of codes, rules, laws that multiply the cost of doing anything.

From what appear, China is doing well with their cities. But, sometimes, cities are like living beings. They are born, grow and then become old and die. And some other city else will take their place.

Sunday, 18 April, 2010  

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