America in 2050: More Decentralized

The U.S. is expected to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years, and much of that growth will occur in urban areas. Joel Kotkin says that this growth will highlight the inefficiencies of centralized power.

"The implications of this change will be profound for governments-perhaps in ways not now commonly anticipated. Many 'progressives' believe a more diverse, populous nation will need more guidance from Washington, D.C., but a more complex and varied country will increasingly not fit well into a one-size-fits-all approach.

Although the economic crisis of 2008 led to a rapid rise of federal power, there has been a stunning and largely unexpected push-back reflected, in part, by the tea party movement. Some states have passed laws that seek to restrict federal prerogatives on a host of issues. More importantly, public opinion, measured in numerous surveys, seems to be drifting away from major expansions of government power."

Kotkin argues that densification of urban areas will largely be resisted, and that the suburbs and exurbs will remain important and populated parts of the American economy.

Full Story: Growing America: Demographics and Destiny



Subpar analysis

Frankly, I don't see where Kotkin is going with this article. Of course America, generally speaking, is more in favor of decentralized governments, but I'm truly scratching my head, wondering how smaller, local governments can pay for their own public works: roads, bridges, public transit systems, civic buildings, alternative-renewable energy infrastructures without at least a breadth of sound policies and accountability from the Federal level.

Even the more subtle "slay the beast" big-government arguments are getting old - Kotkin gives readers plenty. By the way, Planetizen moderators-editors, please refrain from publishing such stories unless they offer substantive, practical solutions and citations, both of which are lacking in Kotkin's opinion, not objective journalism, piece.

The bigger picture in any planning for the U.S. rests on the downturn and inevitable collapse of petro-based economies, which dominate our landscape, to say the least. When considering this reality, Kotkin's piece quickly disintegrates into a mumblings that are short on foresight and heavy on delusion, e.g., despite Kotkin underscoring Garreau's "Edge City", perhaps his only citation, edge cities will make little sense in 30 years unless we get a sustainable, largely-encompassing renewable energy infrastructure going to power these eyesores - mass transit as well. Good luck doing such without the Feds, or centralized, privatized Wall Street (<-- the guys Kotkin should have spent more time addressing in his article).

Moreover, at least one of the goals of any decentralized, i.e., localized government should be: to work with the Feds efficiently by doing their part. Such a relationship sounds more like a partnership to me.

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