Tuesday, February 10, 2009

N.C. – A metro state or a rural state?

Live-blogging again from "North Carolina: The Good Growth State," in Raleigh, N.C. State's Emerging Issues Forum. You can listen in here.

Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz is speaking now. He's not nearly as wittily satirical as N.Y. Times pundit David Brooks, who opened this morning with a great disquisition on "go-go suburbia." But it's stern good medicine for all N.C. policy- and law-makers to hear:

"There is no such thing as the North Carolina economy or the American economy."

Katz's key points:

  • Despite the economic trauma we're living through, the economic fundamentals haven't changed: The drivers of an economy are metro-region economies.
  • We have no national economy. We have a network of metro economies.
  • We don't have a national or state governance that recognizes that reality.
  • National and state policies reward wasteful forms of development and policies. (More later about his comments on roads spending.)
  • North Carolina is a metro state. It doesn't think of itself this way.
This is essential stuff for the state's leaders to hear. N.C. culture – once you get outside Charlotte – thinks of itself as a place of farms and small towns. The legislature and state government attitudes all accept this as truth. It's tradition, it's nostalgia and it distorts the way state resources and policies are used.

"I'm talking about a different way of thinking," Katz is saying, about economies and governance.


Anonymous said...

North Carolina loathes cities in general and its own cities in particular. I'm not sure that even the "worst crisis since the Great Depression" (where we undoubtedly are) is enough to shake that view. Cities contain Roman Catholics, African Americans, gay men and lebians, Latinos, all things Bubba loves to hate.

Now we even see the state legislature gearing up to repeal an annexation law that has worked beautifully for nearly 50 years. To those who say that annexation is taxation without representation, I say that you're merely a common thief. You want to leave in the aura of a city, taking full advantage of the things it offers, without paying for any of it.

Anonymous said...

As long as the redneck mentailty dominates in this state, North carolina will never live up to its full potential. Charlotte and releigh are carrying this state, not the small towns the legislators seem to be from.

The Logistician said...

E.C. Huey suggested that I visit your site, and the recommendation was a good one.

I grew up in Greensboro and attended grade school there, graduating from high school in 1969. I've been pretty much gone ever since, spending the last 30 years in Los Angeles. I have now returned home to stay with my 88 yr old Father.

I'll tell you my gut reaction: the lack of jobs, especially for those in the lower socio-economic level. And that was before the current economic collapse. Having lived and worked in large cities, I believe that jobs should be the number one goal of any area, because when people have jobs, lots of other societal problems are addressed. No jobs, then more spousal and child abuse, substance abuse, violence, and crime.

However, I get the impression here back home that "quality of life" trumps jobs, and that a significant segment of the population would rather have slower development in order to maintain what they perceive to be a good quality of life.

Interesting choice. Not being judgmental, just noting that when we make choices either way, there are ramifications.

John Keels said...

Hmm, this is a very interesting story. I see no reason to "loath" cities despite some problems at times within them. For one thing many of the jobs that DO exist in this state would not be here without Raleigh/Durham, RTP, Charlotte, etc.

As for people who do not value "diversity" in a city well then I guess they need to remain in their small town or whatever where they feel less imposed by such things. There is a place for rural and small towns but a very important place for cities as well.

Like it or not cities drive our economy. The mistake that has been made is the way our cities have been developed in recent decades. Which actually adds to (sometimes legit) concerns about crime, social issues, and other things. Diversity should not be considered a problem though but rather embraced unless your really afraid of everything different than what you've been all your life.