June 05, 2005

Urban Hotbeds

John Nichols has a very interesting article in the latest issue of the Nation about the one place where progressive politics are on the march: urban areas. On the other hand, a few weeks ago Joel Kotkin argued that many cities are rapidly losing people, and should concentrate on more "pro-growth" policies—which means in part focusing more on jobs and infrastructure than attracting the creative class—that "boost the competitive status of urban centers."

Now I've always just figured that most city councils have already been thinking about boosting competitiveness, and the main reason it's not happening as quickly as Kotkin would like is simply because it's hard to pull off. But judging from Nichols' piece it doesn't seem like these new progressive hotbeds are actually making economic growth their chief priority—there's a lot of time spent passing resolutions against the Patriot Act or the war in Iraq—and then there's a lot of stuff, like trying to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, that might even hurt the competitiveness of urban areas. Especially if there aren't nationwide standards. Of course, there's a lot of pro-growth stuff going on as well: new child care programs, affordable housing, etc. Plus, the living wage doesn't seem to have been a job-destroying blight on urban areas, so who knows, maybe emissions reductions and other fun liberal goals won't be as "anti-growth" as often predicted, either. That's what experimentation's all about!
-- Brad Plumer 8:30 PM || ||