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AP Crows: Sun Belt Feels The Recession

From a gleeful Associated Press:

[AP caption:] A foreclosure sign sits outside a home for sale in Phoenix. Arizona has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

After crash, has twilight come to the Sun Belt?

By Todd Lewan, AP National Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. – We first heard the term decades ago: The "Sun Belt" was just starting a run of phenomenal growth — and no wonder. It conjured a sunny state of mind as well as a balmy place on the map.

Everybody, it seemed, wanted a spot in the sun.

Industries such as aerospace, defense and oil set up shop across America’s southernmost tier, capitalizing on the low involvement of labor unions and the proximity of military bases that paid handsomely, and reliably, for their products and services.

Later, San Jose, Calif., and Austin, Texas, developed into high-tech nerve centers; Houston grew into a hub for the oil industry; Nashville became a mecca for music recording and production; Charlotte, N.C., transformed itself into a center for low-cost banking and finance; and then there were the new Dixie Detroits, places like Canton, Miss., Georgetown, Ky., and Spartanburg, S.C., that began rolling out Titans, Camrys and BMWs.

Meanwhile, other warm-weather havens offered their own variants of the Sun Belt dream — as Fountains of Youth for 60-and-up duffers, as Magic Kingdoms for fun-seekers, as Cape Canaverals for middle-aged northerners looking to launch their second acts.

Air conditioning, bug spray and drainage canals that transformed marshes into golf-course subdivisions — these innovations, plus the availability of flat, low-taxed land attracted migrants from Brooklyn and Cleveland, Havana and Mexico City to locales once dismissed as too hot, too swampy, too dry, too backwater-ish

In this way, for a generation or more, the Sun Belt thrived like no other region in America — a growth so steady it felt as though the boom would never end. But now it has, replaced by a bust that has left some swaths of the region suffering as severely as anywhere in the current recession

Some cities — Las Vegas, Phoenix, Fort Myers are good examples — hitched their floats to housing bubbles and got caught up in development that depended largely on, well, development itself, rather than sustainable, scalable, productive industry, economic analysts say

It’s in these places where the economic meltdown "will likely find its fullest bloom," Richard Florida, the urbanist and author, wrote recently in an Atlantic Monthly article titled "How the Crash Will Reshape America."

The boom in parts of the Sun Belt was, Florida wrote in the Atlantic, a "giant Ponzi scheme" — a growth machine that banked on wishful thinking, on the hope that an unending stream of new arrivals would forever inject their money into construction and real estate.

But as often is the case with such schemes, there comes a day when the engine sputters, gasps, and conks out. A day when the faithful stop turning up.

In the Sun Belt’s newer, shallow-rooted communities, the roadkill is most evident: Where once there were "boomburbs," there now stand "ghostdivisions." Where property-flipping was once almost a middle-class sport, joblessness and "For Sale by Owner" signs reign…

The housing bubble in many places revealed an obsolescent model of economic life, in which cheap real estate encouraged low-density sprawl and created a work force "stuck in place, anchored by houses that cannot be profitably sold," Florida wrote in his March article…

In the digital age, he says, industries will likely cluster in "mega-regions" of multiple cities and their surrounding suburban rings (e.g., the Boston-New York-Washington corridor). These areas will surge, lifted by the brainpower of educated professionals and creative thinkers that turn out "products and services faster than talented people in other places can."

In short: Those that can draw talented, young people with high-quality, higher education will reap the spoils

As an example, Caron St. John, director of the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship at Clemson University in South Carolina, says Sun Belt states now rationing funds ought to consider returning to "First Principles" — that is, channeling what little money they have toward elementary and high schools rather than higher education.

"Elementary and high school children — we can’t scar their lives because of a budget crisis. That has to be the first priority."

The question is whether the Sun Belt will show the rest of the nation how to retool schools, save water and energy, and better plan its suburbs and exurbs in an era of less.

"By necessity, we’re already being forced to address these issues," says Schwer, of the University of Nevada. "This crisis is an opportunity, more than anything else, to reset things, to put some balance back into our lives."

Is it our imagination, or is there not an strong undercurrent of glee in this Associated Press article?

The not too subtle message seems to be:

“Ha ha, you reactionary fools. You though you could escape the crime and grime and high taxes and poor services of the big cities by fleeing to the South and Southwest.

But now you are going to have to pay the price. And you may even have to move back to the Boston – New York – Washington, DC corridor.”

(And we won’t even talk about the racial overtones here.)

Of course the solution, according to the AP, is to spend more money (by raising taxes) on teachers unions.

After all, look at the phenomenal success Washington, DC and New York City have enjoyed by spending lavishly on elementary and secondary education.

Who wouldn’t prefer to send their children to the public schools there, than say to some miserable public school in hayseed Utah?

"This crisis is an opportunity, more than anything else, to reset things, to put some balance back into our lives."

Ah, yes. The old familiar tune.

Right out of the Communist Socialist Alinsky Democrat hymnal.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 31st, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “AP Crows: Sun Belt Feels The Recession”

  1. proreason says:

    “In short: Those that can draw talented, young people with high-quality, higher education will reap the spoils…”

    The Moron wants revenge on achievers who stole from his peoples.
    Likewise, the MSM wants revenge on the millions of people who have chosen freedom over government control and stultifying taxation. And in their addled imaginations, they envision that pre-programmed high-quality, brainwashing higher education will do it?

    What a hoot?

    The truth, of course, is that people are fleeing the queer-coast kill-zones in record numbers.


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