Weekly Digest: Small Struggling Cities
Welcome to my weekly digest for April 22, 2022.
For new subscribers, this contains a roundup of my recent writings and podcasts, as well as links to the best articles from around the web this week. You can control what emails you get from me by visiting your account page.
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Small Struggling Cities
It’s no surprise that many smaller post-industrial cities are in big trouble. My latest piece at City Journal is a review of an academic book looking at struggling communities and their prospects. Here’s an excerpt:
Forty-six million Americans live in small municipalities—those between 20,000 and 200,000 people—with stagnant or declining populations. This figure matches nearly exactly the 45 million living in the nation’s 40 largest municipalities.
The third, less-successful small city in Mallach’s typology is the “urban transfer payment city.” These places, like Youngtown, Ohio, subsist almost entirely off a variety of subsidies, including traditional welfare programs like food stamps, state and federal municipal aid, Medicare and Medicaid, student loans and Pell Grants, and other such programs. In these cities, even many residents holding what appear to be marketplace jobs with private health insurance—such as employees of hospitals or colleges—are indirectly supported by transfer payments. The future of such places is grim.
Click over to read the whole thing.
More Content and Media Mentions
Bonnie Kristian at The Week wrote a nice piece on owned space that referenced my writings on the subject. Tim Nichols at the Theopolis Institute has some thoughts about my three worlds framework. And Strong Towns cites some of my research when arguing that a new Ohio River bridge in Cincinnati would be a bad idea.
Other posts and podcasts:
My latest monthly deep dive newsletter was on James Burnham’s managerial revolution. In case you missed it.
Going Progressive Didn’t Save Them (Subscriber Only). A look at West-Park Presbyterian Church in NYC, a genuinely progressive congregation that is now all but extinct and looking to sell off their landmark building. I don’t argue that their progressive orientation hurt them, but it sure doesn’t seem to have helped them.
Outsider Cultural Change - My latest podcast looks at how cultural change can originate outside the elite. Subscribers can read the transcript.
I also interview Andrew Crapuchettes about navigating the woke job market and his new job board startup Red Balloon. Subscribers can read the transcript.
At American Reformer, David Ayers dives into the statistics around homosexual acceptance among evangelicals. There is a big shift towards becoming LGBT affirming among younger evangelicals, and this is particularly pronounced among younger females.
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Best of the Web
Wintery Knight is a writer on Christian apologetics widely read in the manosphere world. He’s just started a new apologetics podcast with a partner. The first episode looks at the historic case for the resurrection of Christ.
Vogue: Is Monogamy Over? Inside Love’s Sharing Economy - As I’ve long said, our media today will rep any lifestyle except normal.
Speaking of which…NYT: Sexy Lingerie for Men Is Here
Peter Hitches: A marriage is less binding than a car lease.
NYT: How loneliness is damaging our health.
A great 2018 piece from Tom Socca: Your real biological clock is you’re going to die.
Michael Toscano channels Neil Postman in an article about digital media technology at First Things.
The Land: The demise of Cleveland’s East Glenville - Once a tight-knit community, now another blighted neighborhood
Aaron - putting in a plug for your past urban policy work - how much of the decline are we seeing as the inevitable cresting of the wave of suburban development patterns that are slowly bankrupting to municipalities?
Do you see this as a meaningful factor in the decline of places that seemed quite prosperous when they were new, but now seem in decline? Conspicuously, right around the time that their Boomer infrastructure reaches the end of its lifecycle...
A place like Spokane or Lafayette wakes up and realizes that all of the free state and federal highway infrastructure of decades past now carries a maintenance price tag that their tax base will never support.
Debt and more Ponzi scheme development (more revenue now, off-balance sheet liabilities for later) forestall the inevitable. Eventually there is no money to prop up the illusion of prosperity. Taxes increases, services decrease - welcome to the descending world.