Stay Put, Young Man, Stay Put

Source: Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis has published a useful reminder of how job and wage growth has bifurcated in Virginia — jobs and wages have increased smartly in Virginia’s major metro areas since the recession but have lagged markedly in non-metro Virginia.

The trends, which reflect the larger urban-rural divide nationally cannot be reversed, notes CI, but they can be ameliorated. “State lawmakers have some specific options on the table that could offer an economic development boost to rural Virginia.”

What do all of those options entail? Tax breaks and rural subsidies targeted to helping lower- and middle-income households. Expanding Medicaid. Eliminating the work requirement for receiving Medicaid. A bigger state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). State investment in roads, bridges, and broadband. CI doesn’t advocate showing infrastructure money indiscriminately on localities — investments should be “placed based” reflecting the needs of local communities — but the approach is all about subsidies and wealth transfers.

Virginia already has an entity — the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission — that has been helicoptering money all over Southside and Southwestern Virginia for a couple of decades now with little discernible effect. The Institute doesn’t articulate what criteria should be applied for dispensing the cash any differently. 

What CI does says forthrightly is that “asking rural Virginians to move to jobs isn’t a solution.” 

Why not?

Americans throughout their history have been moving to areas of greater opportunity. As Horace Greeley famously proclaimed in the 19th century, “Go west, young man.” In the early 20th century thousands of farmers and immigrants migrated to the Central Appalachian coalfields, and when the coal industry withered, they moved on. African-American sharecroppers migrated from Southern rural areas to greater opportunity in the urbanizing North. In the 1930s, Okies choking on the Dust Bowl moved to California. And so it has gone. But for some reason, CI has ruled out moving from rural areas whose mill-town manufacturing economies have been devastated by globalism and automation.”

I have penned innumerable posts on this blog suggesting strategies on how rural Virginia communities can revitalize themselves by selling access to mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, and investing in the kind of amenities that will attract retirees, nature lovers, resort-goers and small entrepreneurs. Are the Virginia mountains any less picturesque than North Carolina’s? Is Virginia’s portion of the Bay any less beautiful than Maryland’s? Why can’t we replicate the economic  success of western N.C. and Maryland’s Eastern Shore?

But even if Abingdon could become another Blowing Rock and Deltaville another St. Michael’s, there is a limit to how many jobs a tourism/resort/retiree economy can support. If our goal is helping people rather than helping regions, then we should encourage people to move to where the jobs are. The single biggest barrier to moving isn’t the lack of Medicaid or insufficient EITC, it’s the lack of affordable housing in Virginia’s major metros.

If we want to build a society around redistribution and the amelioration of poverty, fine, go with the Commonwealth Institute plan. If we want to build a society around jobs, opportunity, and upward mobility then our focus should be on mobility and affordable housing.

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29 responses to “Stay Put, Young Man, Stay Put

  1. “but the approach is all about subsidies and wealth transfers.”

    Most politicians today consider “subsidies and wealth transfers” handed out from other peoples’ bank account to ever more numbers of poor voters to be the perfect solution to keep getting the politician elected, and staying in power with ease, so as to bring home the bacon for the poor and politician alike.

    So.

    “Don’t move, boy, don’t change a thing, you stay right where you are, boy, in my voting district, ’cause I’ll take care of ya no matter what as long as I am here. So don’t do nothing, boy, cause I’m gonna keep ya fixed up and keep you right here in my district fixed up just fine, I’ll give ya the rich people’s money for free, and then you’re worry free ’cause all ya got to do is give me what cost ya nothing, your vote. I’ll even throw you a party and bus ya over to vote.”

    • This tactic of buying votes to keep the voter in his place, poor and dependent, in order to maintain the privilege and power of the politician who buys the poor voter’s vote with other peoples money, is ubiquitous in America politics. It has been that way since the 1830’s invention of big city machine politics fueled by the votes of poor, dispossessed and newly arrived immigrants got Andrew Jackson into the White House, the birth of the patronage pork feeding of the dispossessed poor to buy political power.

      There is another more traditional tactic that reverses the process. Here the politician sells his vote in public affairs to gain for a rich man some private privilege and special favor in return for money put in the politician’s pocket. Thus the politician here uses his public office sell private favors, and thereby enrich himself at taxpayer expense. This too is ubiquitous in American politics. It is one reason why most all politicians are rich, or will soon become rich after they gain political power.

      In short, the American politician typically sells the vote(s) of his elected office to gain his own personal wealth along with enhancing his own political power, or has used his own private wealth earlier acquired to buy the votes of other voters to gain political power commensurate with his private wealth.

      Ours is a dirty filthy political system. It runs on deception and fraud, and the illicit exchange of money, personal favor, and power. So it works. Because it matches up nicely with human nature. And, in so doing, it replaces other powerful human instincts, violence and brute force. Hence, we use the best system we have devised that our own human nature allows.

      • My comments directly above get us to Acbar’s comment directly below:

        “The reason NOT to tell folks to move to where the jobs are is the much higher cost of living there. And why is that? It’s population bumping up against the constraints of restrictive zoning. We need more housing (including rentals) in our urban employment centers! Go back to the 1890s to 1920s in Richmond and what was happening was the construction of block after block of “streetcar suburbs” — the very areas we call the Fan District and Museum District today. Those desirable inner-city row houses of today were yesterday’s response to the exact same problem: city jobs snd homes for country folk. Instead all we can build today, it seems, is more McMansions for the exurban executive class, even while the old cities have gentrified. There’s no place for that family from Galax to move to in NoVa or Richmond or Hampton Roads … Why, why, why? It’s fundamentally land use policies, as Jim has been saying here, for years!” END COMMENT

        Acbar’s point is valid but it is not mutually exclusive to the tactic of politicians that I describe above. In fact, his point works in tandem with and reinforces, and is the result of the tactics of politicians. MacMansions make far more profit off of land and bricks and sticks, and the developer’s time and risk, than cheap affordable housing does. The profit margins off risk, investment, and effort, do not compare. So our political system works with our human nature to insure that we build MacMansions, instead of affordable housing. But we do this for many reasons, beyond short term profit alone. It is tribal too, for example.

        Recall my earlier comment on Jim’s post Prosperity Bomb published July 2, 2018:

        “Here’s a way to consider how zoning laws “contend” with the natural tendencies of human behaviors including primal and tribal instincts.

        1. I will never forget the goings on at the half-times of the annual UVA / Virginia Tech football games at Scott Stadium in the early and mid 1960s. It was the most popular half time event of entire football season. Here is how it went.

        First, there appeared a farmer on a small tractor driving erratically around the football field, an obviously tall gangling figure in floppy straw hat and dungarees, his knees hiked high, exposing his sockless skinny white shins above his heavy black work boots. On his inevitable appearance, the home crowd when wild, hooting and laughing.

        Next, out galloped a white dappled gray high stepping stallion, whose gay Cavalier rider and master rode complete with sword, jodhpurs clad in high riding boots, scarlet cape and grey white plumed hat. Now the crowd roared. And then they clapped, hooted, hollered, and laughed as our Gay Cavalier chased the now highly erratic dungareed hick who, increasingly desperate to escape, finally got herded off the field by the Gay Cavalier atop in his noble high stepping white gray dappled stead.

        Next, as too happenings at UVA some 45 years later:

        2/ Also I will never forget Uva’s communications department under the Imperial Reign of Teresa Sullivan.

        For example, now google “Virginia Sports,” and then, after that, and better yet, google this: “Video: Graduation Memories Aplenty for UVA’s Class of 2018” or go directly to the video found at:

        https://news.virginia.edu/content/video-graduation-memories-aplenty-uvas-class-2018

        Do you see any differences between what was happening at UVA in the early and middle 1960s and what is happening at UVA in 2018?

        If you do see differences, what are the differences?

        For example, who, according to this 2018 video would you expect to have “Graduation Memories Aplenty from the Class of 2018”, and who, what group of people appear to have none at all? How about with Sports at UVA too?

        Pondering all this, not avoiding it, but looking at the images and communications, have things at UVa. really not changed at all?

        What does this have to do with zoning?

        I suggest a lot. Zoning, like all regulations or systems of control by those in power with biases, can be used offensively, or defensively, and/or for good purposes and/or for bad purposes. In the end, how this power is wielded, who is benefited and who is hurt and abused, all depends on who wields the power, and the culture, and who has the ethics, morals, character, and courage to stand up to that power, or who lacks those qualities that as allow a out of control culture or group to run amuck over every one else.”

      • “So our political system works with our human nature to insure that we build MacMansions, instead of affordable housing.” Reed, we agree. Exactly so. Zoning responds to what the people already on board want. The newly arrived, who would come aboard if allowed to, find the gangplank pulled up already (in the form of a high price barrier to entry). This both keeps out the riff-raff and guarantees a nice inheritance for the kids. And the additional price we pay for that is the subsidies required to keep the riff-raff back on the farm “where they belong.”

        • Yes Acbar, and recall comments within the Prosperity Bomb post, we also discussed some ways to overcome these zoning problems, if the political will and comprehensive planning be in place, among other tools, for example, I suggested:

          “Good zoning laws and land use planning and their execution, can not only transfer great additional value to land, they can also limit the value of land so as to make it salable within a market most advantageous to an entire community. Market realities also regulate and control value.

          The problem often is that zoning and land uses laws are very poor or too often abused as as to twist and distort markets, and urban places, creating monster single use type communities that breed dysfunction within themselves that spin out across adjoining communities near and far, so they do not work for all but for only a few. This often arises where the system of governance gives dominance of a few special interests over everyone else in community.

          So here what you get far too often is a myopic focus on each individual project (how to maximize its value to the owner) without regard to how its use works for the good or for ill of its immediate neighbors, its community generally, and also for the “folks down the road.” This myopic focus builds single use “dead” communities without the synergies of interactive uses and interests that otherwise tie everybody interests together for the benefit all therein and the community as a whole. Here powerful special interests will fail the community and region every time.

          Why?

          All real estate is at the end of the day holistic. All real estate is inter-related, a living organism serving and/abusing all those living in it or near it, or who pass through it. In America we long ago lost sight of this simple and obvious fact. We had too much open land, too much money, too much freedom, too many cars, and too much of much else new, and we got it all far too quick. And the list goes on. But our wastage of land, and our building of no where places that feed upon themselves, ruining themselves, while they also infect whole neighborhoods and regions, ruining them too, are now all around us, jamming us up daily.

          See also the comments and post found at The Fiscal Fix published June 18, 2012, AND ALSO SEE https://www.baconsrebellion.com/land-use-and-tax-revenue-in-fairfax-county/

  2. re: ” but the approach is all about subsidies and wealth transfers.
    …..
    What CI does says forthrightly is that “asking rural Virginians to move to jobs isn’t a solution.”

    Why not?”

    Well I actually AGREE … but here’s the thing – Rural Va is represented by the GOP and what we’re complaining about is the Dems “subsidy” solution so what does the GOP that represents rural Virginia advocate?

    I might add that the Dem’s other solution is more education – and some of it “free” or close to “free”; we’re not talking about 4-year college but Community College – and more specifically THIS KIND:

    ” Change your future in weeks. Not years.”

    ” More Skills. More Opportunity.
    Every year, tens of thousands of jobs sit empty across Virginia while employers look for qualified candidates. Job applicants with workforce credentials are twice as likely to be hired than applicants with no credentials.

    FastForward is a high-demand program helping Virginians get the jobs they want and the salaries they need. FastForward programs are short-term training courses offered through Virginia’s Community Colleges to help you fast-track your career.”

    so… train in place… show where the jobs are that they have been trained to do AND the urban areas work to provide affordable housing for those workers.

    yeah, yeah.. it’s a “liberal” concept… but tell me what the “better” Conservative approach is that is being promoted by the GOP elected from those rural areas……

  3. Training? Rural subsidies? I don’t buy it. The reason NOT to tell folks to move to where the jobs are is the much higher cost of living there. And why is that? It’s population bumping up against the constraints of restrictive zoning. We need more housing (including rentals) in our urban employment centers! Go back to the 1890s to 1920s in Richmond and what was happening was the construction of block after block of “streetcar suburbs” — the very areas we call the Fan District and Museum District today. Those desirable inner-city row houses of today were yesterday’s response to the exact same problem: city jobs snd homes for country folk. Instead all we can build today, it seems, is more McMansions for the exurban executive class, even while the old cities have gentrified. There’s no place for that family from Galax to move to in NoVa or Richmond or Hampton Roads that they can afford (unless it’s to one of those neighborhoods where you put your life on the line daily). Why, why, why? It’s fundamentally land use policies, as Jim has been saying here, for years!

  4. Reed is dead on the money right.

    • re: ” The reason NOT to tell folks to move to where the jobs are is the much higher cost of living there. ”

      however, that IS where the jobs are so we are presented with what is the worse of the two alternatives, i.e. – stay where you are unemployed and dependent on other taxpayers welfare and subsidies or be move to a job, but still needing some level of subsidies and welfare?

      Now…. WHAT political persuasion GOP or Dem – do we EXPECT to look at the bigger picture in proposing responses?

      Well the rural areas are mostly run by the GOP and the Urban areas mostly by Dems – often referred to as liberals, progressives and leftists!

      so which is worse – staying put unemployed and needing/receiving a crapload of subsidies -that continue into the next generation kids… or move to urban area with high cost of living and still needing some level of subsidies?

      What’s clear is that there are no “clean” solutions much less silver bullet but I tend to think that more education aligned to what the job market wants – has to be better if it reduces the total amount of subsidies needed and it leads to less and less dependence of the follow on generation kids.

      What’s also clear is that some folks of various philosophical mindsets do not have the patience nor motivation to hang with what is needed to actually make progress on the problem… they’d rather throw up their hands, embrace ideology and affix blame for the problem (liberals of course and bad morality), then walk away.

      The real world demands adults to deal with those pesky realities the real world is infested with…..

    • I don’t have a magic bullet for what can be done to fix this problem; but I do have family history to share. Relatives who worked in a West Virginia lumber mill town in the early 20th century found themselves unemployed when the Virgin timber ran out and the Mills closed. And they did what so many of their peers did in those days, brought themselves and six children east, to the city — in their case, Washington DC., first to build houses and then, during the Depression, anything they could get, which ended up being construction of new federal buildings along the Mall. They were not wealthy. Yet they rented a house in SE, near Congressional Cemetery, and paid for it and to raise all those kids, comfortably, on their meager income, and commuted to the job site by streetcar.

      My point is simply that someone with those credentials today could easily find work in northern Virginia, but not a place to live within commuting distance. The cost of housing, relative to salaries for the sort of jobs someone just arriving from Southwest Virginia could find, is out-of-sight up here. Sadly, we are better off subsidizing their lives to enable them to stay in Southwest Virginia than subsidizing their cost of living up here. As Jim said in his post, “The single biggest barrier to moving isn’t the lack of Medicaid or insufficient EITC, it’s the lack of affordable housing in Virginia’s major metros.” I agree with Jim, and it’s worth thinking about why that is.

      But you ask, correctly, is it any better to leave these folks unemployed and simply left to rot in place, or to bring them where the jobs are and go ahead and subsidize the cost of that move and their living there? I think the move would cost more in subsidies; but the outcome surely would be healthier for everyone involved. So from that point of view and, as you say, the follow on generations, it would be better to move people en mass to the cities and lower the depressed rural populations to something sustainable. And as Jim also suggests, get more retirees and second-homers to move there.

      In the long run that’s probably the better solution. But can we afford it?

  5. Much of the anti-development sentiment comes from the decades of local government officials refusing to ensure that adequate public facilities were available when they approved more development. Instead of proffers and reasonable development conditions, we saw campaign contributions and lie after lie after lie from elected officials.

    We see a school board in Fairfax County that says each new student costs them X (depending on the year) but telling the BoS no proffer beyond X/10 is needed. Meanwhile, we see trailer as classroom usage growing annually.

    We see supervisors saying “I would like to reject the zoning application because it will overburden public facilities but state law won’t allow it.” “It’s up to VDOT to ensure there are adequate roads,” while negotiating little in proffers. Meanwhile we see real estate taxes increasing at rates that exceed inflation year after year.

    We see Fairfax County produce traffic studies that show that, even with massive improvements to the Beltway and the DTR, the Silver Line, non-rail transit and, of course, a walkable-bikeable Tysons, the DTR, Beltway, Route 7 and Route 123 will reach total failure in the PM travel period once Tysons is built to 84 MSF. Yet, the County’s reaction to that was to propose to let Tysons to grow to more than 200 MSF. Only after hours and hours over work by citizen volunteers over several years did the County ratchet growth down to 115 MSF or so. And only after similar community efforts over a couple more years did the County come up with a plan to fund all of these road and non-rail improvements.

    Living near the Nation’s Capital, one cannot expect to see traffic conditions as if one lived near Lynchburg. But neither is it acceptable to see one’s quality of life diminish annually. Bad local government has created the anti-development sentiment in Northern Virginia.

  6. What Acbar and TMT describe is a Catch 22.

    In Southside Virginia, it’s in the politician’s interest to keep his “poor voters” in place, feeding them just enough in subsidies to further entrench their seemingly hopeless dependency and their fear to move somewhere else where they would be forced to work and compete, in order to eat, and survive. Meanwhile, stuck in place, their families and communities collapse into ruins around them. Thus, year by year, our current plantation system enlarges the number of Americans living within a culture that has lost its “work ethic,” and hope along with it, some now for generations.

    This is a horrible place to be. The American work ethic has always been the foundation of American success, including too its immigrants who became American in name and in fact by earning their acceptance into the American experience by reason of their own hard work, earning their place in the American dream.

    Now, however, in more and more places in America, that work ethic recedes before a growing tide of dependency that is being built up an ever growing variety of Government subsidies that enslave beneficiaries instead of liberating and empowering them. This includes America’s grotesque subsidy of higher education that fails to educate students, giving them bad habits instead, while it saddles those students with crippling loan obligations that fund the opulence of the higher education establishment that run those incompetent fields of the modern American plantation.

    At the same time, TMT describes Northern Virginia with a tightening rope around its neck, a noose feeding an understandable “no growth ethic.” Plus it too may well suffer from a growing dependency problem. If so, this plague hits Northern Virginia from one side while the Gridlock Problem strangles it too.

    In short, you got a double, or even, triple whammy going on here”

    You are damned if you do, and dammed if you don’t.

    We need a different set of solutions. A set that radically changes the dynamics. Likely, this means that we have to clear out today’s politicians along with their ruinous policies in place for generations, that only compound the existing status quo that digs us deeper into the same hole.

    • In short, what Jim describes so well:

      “Americans throughout their history have been moving to areas of greater opportunity. As Horace Greeley famously proclaimed in the 19th century, “Go west, young man.” In the early 20th century thousands of farmers and immigrants migrated to the Central Appalachian coalfields, and when the coal industry withered, they moved on. African-American sharecroppers migrated from Southern rural areas to greater opportunity in the urbanizing North. In the 1930s, Okies choking on the Dust Bowl moved to California. And so it has gone. But for some reason, CI has ruled out moving from rural areas whose mill-town manufacturing economies have been devastated by globalism and automation.”

      This earlier solution can longer work because our American system of governance, education, commerce, and industry, feed and deepen the problem facing half our people, instead of forcing the solution of that problem.

  7. re: “adequate public facilities”…. they cost money, right? who will pay for them and what will that do to the price of housing?

    I’m not a believe that we cannot provide diverse housing stock that is affordable for all those who work in a place.

    What I’m hearing sometimes is that people want the service workers but they don’t want them living nearby – because they would live in lower priced housing and put a strain on the “facilities” roads, schools, etc. Where would we have service workers live who do the work needed in urban areas? Yes, they need facilities… but do we not want them to live in the urban areas because they need costly facilities? What’s the answer to that?

    This is directly related to the idea that – there are jobs that need workers in urban areas. Look around and you’ll see all the workers that are needed to provide services in NoVa… now where do you want them to live?

    Responding to Acbar – many folks who grew up in rural areas – inherited land and they can live albeit – survive on that land… have a home, a yard, etc. What would happen to that land if they leave to go to a job in an urban area and what kind of affordable housing would they find in an urban area?

    This is not an impossible quandary – or at least, let’s say that in most other countries – even Canada – they find a way for people of various income levels to live together in their urban areas… The thing I’ve notice most about my trips to Canada is just how diverse and varied the housing stock is – in and about their urban areas.

    • Larry, the amount of proffers, fees and other regulatory costs that can be recovered in housing prices depends, of course, on market conditions. In a hot market, a builder can recover more, if not all, of its expenditures. In a softer, buyers market, not so much. And its harder to recover all of these costs in prices for less expensive housing. When a family is buying that dream $2 M house, it probably doesn’t take the time to figure out what builder costs and profits are involved. But someone purchasing a $250 K townhouse is much more price sensitive. The builder might have to sell it $240 K and eat the extra costs.

      If a builder cannot recover these costs and still needs to make a profit, one could expect the builder/developer to pay less for the land. The economic incidence of taxes and regulations often falls on the party that cannot move in many cases, the landowner. If City A levies a high real estate tax on big box stores, expect that, over time, some of City A’s big box stores will move outside City A causing vacancies for the landlords who rented the big box stores.

      Affordable housing (in generic terms) is important for a metro area. Some is provided by owners of older, more rundown properties. Nonprofits can sometimes repurpose older commercial/industrial buildings for low-income housing. Most Virginia localities require all but the smallest re-zonings to include housing for lower income levels. Fairfax County requires 12% and 20% in Tysons. But as Larry has noted correctly many times, much of more affordable housing comes with a major commute. But in any situation, adding new construction via up-zoning requires an increase in public facilities. And, in some instances, those costs can make an area unaffordable either in terms of fees, etc. or in higher taxes.

      The decision of whether to move for a better job market and, if so, where to move is more complex that we may be giving it. A person who has seen jobs dry up locally or recent graduates looking for jobs is not necessarily limited to moving to the D.C. metro area. There many choices between the Coal Belt and the Nation’s Capital. For example, I know that a significant number of Virginia college graduates move to the Carolinas for good jobs and a much lower cost of living.

      Finally, if the federal government would enforce the immigration laws as written, the great downward suck of wage levels in lower skilled jobs would lessen. People needing to move for jobs would likely get them at higher pay and be more able to afford housing in their new community.

  8. “This is not an impossible quandary – or at least, let’s say that in most other countries – even Canada – they find a way for people of various income levels to live together in their urban areas… The thing I’ve notice most about my trips to Canada is just how diverse and varied the housing stock is – in and about their urban areas.”

    You are right, Larry.

    What we need is the public political will to demand new leaders, and new public policies. And we need tools that we already have, both in fact, or in workable concept, if deployed. Some of those tools are described in posts and comments on this website in:

    1/ The fiscal Fix- June 18, 2012;
    2/ Land Use and and Tax Revenue in Fairfax County, Feb. 19, 2013;
    3/ Eco-Districts as Competitive Advantage for Edge Cities, November 27, 2017 as presented by Dan Slone; and
    4/ Use of Tenants Moneyto Cure Tenant Rent Shortfall, June 24, 2018

    And many, many other posts and commentary found on this site.

  9. This Post and all the comments to this post, including for example,

    “Now, however, in more and more places in America, that work ethic recedes before a growing tide of dependency that is being built up by an ever growing variety of Government subsidies that enslave beneficiaries instead of liberating and empowering them. This includes America’s grotesque subsidy of higher education that fails to educate students, giving them bad habits instead, while it saddles those students with crippling loan obligations that fund the opulence of the higher education establishment …”

    ALL THIS is discussed at great length and detail in Jim’s March 25, 2017 post Labelled “Deciphering Higher Ed Statistics,” and extensive commentary thereto. It is found at: https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/38733-2/

  10. Dear All,

    I am late to this conversation but I see that there are those of us who do not like living in a paved-over, congested, “diverse” metropolis like Northern Virginia but don’t have a skill set or economic opportunities in southern Virginia, while others who are from these depressed places may prefer their slower pace and dislike the idea of moving to the metro areas. Not everyone likes the “vibrant” metro areas. They are ugly, on the whole, impersonal and anonymous, and expensive to live in. Places DO matter, contra Jim and his ideological compadre, James Fallows, who wrote an article in the 1980s called, “People, Not Places,” for The Atlantic.

    Hopefully, a Trumpean economy will bring these smaller places back, and the debt-dependent metropolitan economies like D.C. will shrink. Though the bigger areas certainly are growing they are doing it, at least number of them, including NoVA & Hampton Roads, through the unsustainable borrowing of the Federal Government.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

    • I totally agree that smaller places tend to be nicer places to live than larger places. But they have less economic opportunity. If you choose to live in the smaller/more enjoyable place, that’s your choice. It does not entitle you to subsidies from the rest of society…. most of which is living in the bigger places and not enjoying themselves as much.

      (Actually, I find a city like Richmond to be a reasonable compromise between large and small, with the best attributes of both. That’s why, after living in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Charlottesville, Martinsville, Roanoke, and Norfolk, I chose to settle here.)

      • Dear Jim,

        I mostly agree with your point about subsidies and rural areas, but aren’t the urban areas that rely on huge U.S. Government spending, getting, in effect, massive subsidies through the Government’s borrowing? What would happen to the Dulles-Tysons corridor and Newport News if we suddenly adopted a real peacetime(!) budget and came within a couple of hundred billion from a balanced budget? “Bankruptcy all around!” for property owners and banks from the fizzling of the demand. Bring it on! This is an unhealthy, short-term prosperity with loads of so-called “externalities.”

        Sincerely,

        Andrew

  11. This discussion is frustrating. Let’s review:

    1. Urban areas are more expensive than rural areas all over the United States and all over the world. This has been true for centuries.
    2. Despite the cost of living differentials (see #1 above) urbanization continues apace. Why? Because the good jobs and opportunity for upward mobility exist more in the cities than anywhere else.
    3. The idea that Virginia’s rural residents can’t move to Virginia’s urban locations because of cost of living issues is bunk. Every day hundreds of illegal migrants from other countries move to those same urban areas. These migrants have stunted educations, limited job skills and often speak almost no English. However, they continue to come.

    “They just show up. They’ve given up their lives elsewhere to come here. They come for the tremendous opportunity, believing that few other places in the world right now offer the opportunity to prosper with grit, determination and hard work. They come because it does not matter that they are young, uneducated, have dark skin or speak with an accent. They come because they feel they will regret it for the rest of their lives if they do not at least give it a try. They come even though it is illegal to do so.”

    — Adapted from Nudist on the Nightshift

    Against this context I find it very hard to listen to the mew mewing of the rural apologists who seem to think that migrating from Southwest Virginia to Northern Virginia is impossible while thousands of people find the trek from El Salvador to Arlington County completely achievable.

    The real welfare state in Virginia isn’t a few hundred thousand generally African American people living in the inner cities of Virginia’s almost non-existant cities. The real welfare state is the millions of generally white people living in rural enclaves agitating for government handouts ranging from Medicaid expansions to EITC refunds to liberalized Social Security disability payments to Tobacco Indemnification Fund gift giving.

    The real welfare state in Virginia is predominately Republican with its right hand over its heart citing the Pledge of Allegiance while its upturned left hand is facing toward Richmond waiting to be greased with other people’s money.

    • True – But white privilege in this country is bunk. Welfare is quick becoming colorblind. Everybody is on the Plantation.

    • Don, while I agree with you about the necessity of people to move from where the jobs aren’t to where the jobs are, I still maintain that the high cost of housing presents a barrier. You rightly point out that immigrants from all over the world come to the U.S. and find a place to live in expensive metro areas, so it’s not as if it can’t be done. However, in many cases the immigrants get by by packing loads of people into a single dwelling — typically a violation of local codes and ordinances. If you’re already in the country illegally, what are you going to care if you violate a local fire code by packing 15 people into a house? Native-born Americans will be more dissuaded by local ordinances from doing the same thing.

      That said, I remember when my daughter moved to Jackson, Wyoming, which had a similar unaffordable-housing problem. She and four buddies shared an apartment — and their buddies routinely slept on the couch until they could find their own place to say. Similarly, my son just moved in with four other guys to share the rent on a house in Fairfax County. That’s what you do when you can’t afford to rent a place all by yourself — you have roommates. If the entitled Bacon progeny can do it, so can migrants from rural Virginia.

      • You are right, native born American’s can be highly mobile if they are young and single, and all they own is the shirts on their backs, particularly so if educated.

        But things get hugely complicated with age and with families, as TMT points out so well.

        In a perverse way, Fairfax is oddly perfect for poor immigrants, because it is so dysfunctional. Poor immigrants thrive in the seams of rich but increasingly dysfunctional and failing cultures. Middle class natives with families don’t. They just get stuck and poorer by the day. This make them prey to demagogues and plantation owners. There they go to wither and die slowly.

        • And, come to think of it, this is what the leftist Plantation owners fear the most in this country. Namely the uppity white and black folk middle class who threaten the growing leftists elite power in our society – hence we now see the efforts of the lefty elites to shut down the white middle class, cleanse their history and institutions, while at the same time they keep uppity blacks in their place.

          The tools of the leftist elite are bribery (handouts with major strings attached); and it that don’t work, then they try to shut down the free speech of the middle class, and shame and de-platform the “redneck and black rebels, and/or drive them broke by stealing their tax refunds and relief while they ratcheting their high tuition ever higher while also cutting off their subsidies and increasing their tolls, and, if necessary by sending out in their brown-shirts to do violence in the streets.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            typo corrections to last parargraph:

            The tools of the leftist elite are bribery (handouts with strings attached). AND IF that don’t work, they shut down the free speech of the middle class, and shame and de-platform the “redneck and black rebels”, and drive them broke by stealing their tax refunds and relief while they ratchet their high tuition ever higher and cut off their subsidies and increase their tolls, and, if necessary, they send out their brown-shirts militia to do them violence in the streets.

            Folks, there is in this country a power struggle going on.

  12. C’mon, Steve, admit it. You’ve been dead for years.

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