The Urban Reordering: Can the United States Make it Stick?

The trend toward the urban has been documented from every possible angle, but a recent op-ed wonders whether it will be possible for the federal government to make a course correction that ceases the endless subsidies for the suburbs.
April 20, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"For all of the attention showered on hipster enclaves like Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Portland, Ore., America is only in the beginning stages of a historic urban reordering. After over a half-century of depopulation, cities have been filling up — and not just with young millennials, but with families and even older workers and retirees," begins Vishaan Chakrabarti in a recent op-ed for the New York Times.

Chakrabati lays out a few reasons for why so many are making the choice to move to the city:

  • "Crime [in cities] has remained low, while public schools and parks have been getting better in many places."
  • "...the economic challenges of starting a life in the suburbs have grown..." 
  • "the future, inasmuch as it is tied in with issues like cultural diversity and marriage equality, is centered in the urban core." 

Chakrabati is not out, however, to continue to describe the trend toward urbanization, or its possible causes and correlations. The op-ed's main point: "Given these demographic shifts, we have an unsurpassed opportunity to transform the United States into a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable country by encouraging a more urban America."

Yet the federal government, according to Chakbarati, continues to shower the suburbs with "largess" (for instance, "[the] largest subsidy in the federal system is the mortgage interest deduction, about $100 billion annually"). Finally: "I am not arguing that people should not live in suburbs. But we shouldn’t pay them to do so, particularly now that our world and the desires of our population are evolving." 

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Published on Thursday, April 17, 2014 in New York Times
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