by Cato 8/25/14
One of my longest standing observations is “demographics is destiny”. Put bluntly, shrinking populations do not support growing economies. The reverse as a corollary is also true: bad economics results in shrinking economies and triggers shrinking … or migrating … populations. No one runs away from wealth or towards poverty if they have a choice!
California, Illinois, New York and other liberal bastions have been losing native-born population for the last 15 to 20 years, relying on foreign-born immigrants to partly fill in that loss. Over-taxation, over-regulation, and out of control spending and borrowing … which together are at the core of bad economics … is the reason I assign for this long running trend.
That low tax and light regulation states like Texas, states with rational spending and low debt, offering good economic climates, are the recipients of these citizen-migrants underscores my thinking. And it’s the expanding population of Texas that is at the core of the state’s economic vibrancy.
This graphic is a list of the 25 fastest shrinking US cities of 50,000 or more, losses sustained in just in one year, compiled by Bloomberg News.
Are they all future bankrupts like Detroit, Michigan and Stockton, California? Perhaps not, but the concentration in and hallowing out of Rust Belt and Old Confederacy states is obvious, Great Lakes to Caribbean. This is just the bottom 25. On a list of several hundred the trend would be even more pronounced.
What do these town have in common? My best guess would be: they were all vibrant, entrepreneurial manufacturing and assembly and shipping centers, dotted with dozens of small private firms, each one the sweat and blood of a local boy made good, located along major trucking routes back in the day. Years of bad economic policy, local, state, and federal, years of mandated costs, unions, over-regulation and mountains of bureaucratic paperwork have taken their toll.
The crisis of the middle class in Obama’s America is not just about families. It’s about towns and cities where those families lived for generations, worked and died. Much has been written about the decline of the middle class, about the over-regulation and anti-business animus liberals have instilled at many governmental levels; local, state and federal. It’s all true.
These towns were where that middle class thrived; the small town America in which the American middle class became the envy of the world. I grew up in one of them and it was bursting at the seams with enthusiasm. The local business founders were kings; admired. Not so much today. Oh, there’s development 15 miles out of town; fast food and motels along the Interstate. New subdivisions where an NYSE firm built a headquarters. But all the small manufacturing firms are gone. The family businesses are gone. The center of town is fading away.
These towns and thousands more like them are gradually becoming tomorrow’s ghost towns; the tombstones of bad economic policies, bad government and falling populations. And as the people who built these towns move their families out these towns will gradually shrink, and those who stay behind gradually become wards of the state.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Bloomberg ranked U.S. cities based on the percentage change in population from 2012 to 2013 and identified the 25 that were shrinking the most. Methodology: Only cities with at least 50,000 residents as of 2013 were included. Population estimates were as of July 1 each year. Data were rounded. Source: ZeroHedge.com
Cato blogs at Cato’s Domain.
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