There are a couple of interesting commentaries at the website Naked Capitalism that outline a problem both worldwide and in this country: that there are Places That Don’t Matter, but people still live in and are still attached to them. These places are characterized by “Persistent poverty, economic decay and lack of opportunities“, and in general, they are increasingly ignored by the more successful geographies in the country.
The commentaries outline the fact that people with power – primarily living in Global Cities – have shifted their attention away from these places, instead taking the position that attention should be paid to the Global Cities because those places are Very Important, and that the people in the Places That Don’t Matter should simply move to a Global City, telling them that they can just “eat some training” to become successful. So in other words, the State, as a unit, no longer matters – it is now all about the Global City as the center of power.
The people living in the Global Cities are ignorant of the social upheaval and resistance that a policy of relocation/training requires – ranging from the general lack of housing in Global Cities for this to occur, to the emotional attachment that people have to their homes and family, to the focus on credentials that largely prevent the people from lesser areas from competing (despite a focus on diversity, there is still a high correlation between attending a “top high school” and being admitted to a selective university). It should be obvious that once people reach a certain age and point in their life, it is no longer economically or logistically feasible to get educated in a different area, especially when age discrimination is fairly rampant in many of the “hot” industries.
This has resulted in an upturn of economic populism – from Brexit to the separatist movement in Catelonia (Spain) to Marine Le Pen in France to Rob Ford in Toronto and to Trump. It was especially easy for this to happen in the US because our political system is designed to give weight to those not living in a Global City.
The article postulates that economies centered on large agglomerations (i.e. Global Cities) is not a surefire strategy because Global Cities are often not very dynamic with respect to growth, and that it is foolish to put all your eggs in one basket. It suggests that a better strategy would be to work on policies that help grow the lagging and declining areas, noting that simply social safety nets result in a permanently dependent populations and regions. We are already seeing this effect: many poor people are fleeing Global Cities and locating in poor regions, and a large segment of people moving to Global Cities are already successful.
I urge people in this state to look at our own version of this problem. The state, along with the public sentiment of many of the liberal thinkers here, has increasingly bought in to this vision, characterizing the lagging and declining regions of this state as Places That Don’t Matter. It could do things – the easiest of which would be to decentralize state government out of Boston and use state jobs as an economic engine. It is worth noting that Donald Trump has suggested to do this very thing.
Just some food for thought for the thinkers in this state.