‘Fastest Dying Cities’ Meet for a Lively Talk by Douglas Belkin, Wall Street Journal
Last year, Forbes.com used long-term trends of unemployment, population loss and economic output to devise a list of “America’s Fastest Dying Cities.” The cities include Cleveland, Dayton, Canton and Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit and Flint, MI; Buffalo, Scranton, Springfield, MA and Charleston, WV. They all realize manufacturing is not going to come back to save them.
These cities have natural resources, hardworking people, underutilized infrastructure, and land for expansion, but you can see the decline everywhere and the housing markets and crime are awful. What they also have in common is rejecting the obvious path to a turnaround. All of them are over-taxed and over-regulated with a one party political system which has led to heavy patronage and incompetence in local government. They all have several common denominators. Among them bad local political choices, lack of regional cooperation, and no vision to diversify 20-30 years ago. They are also controlled by unions which promoted policies destroying manufacturing jobs. Decades of anti-business policies have resulted in a migration of good jobs.
The companies that stayed in these cities saw their market share evaporate, as their ability to fend off foreign or non-union competitors waned. Union workforces became increasingly less productive as measured against hourly throughput. Now the laws of economics are holding true. Union leaders horribly failed their membership by not emphasizing productivity.
The leaders of these dying cities are meeting now but their problems have been around for a long time. For example, Detroit never recovered from its 1967 riots. I hope they will look at themselves to come up with an answer but I am skeptical.
This letter was published in Forbes: “I’ve lived in Flint, MI my entire life and I just recently began working at a GM factory. With the exception of a few people my co-workers are the laziest and most negative people I’ve ever seen. From what I’ve heard from the GM workers all my life and what I’ve recently seen first hand, the workers themselves have played NO SMALL PART in what’s happened to the automotive industry here.”
These observations were supported in a letter I received from Norina Mooney of California’s Silicon Valley; “As a member of the SEIU labor union I agree with you. Most union workers are lazy. They are complacent in their jobs but they know they will never be fired. I work for a government agency and I am the exception to the rule. Most workers do not go out of their way to do anything. I makes me so irritated but I guess I was placed there for a reason.”