Monday, April 20, 2009

Small Midwestern Cities Are Dying?

Oh, boy. Too many response I can make to this. Like, we did not know this? You think you have seen backwaters - wait till you see Elwood! (That is an inside joke for my Madison County readers.)

Seriously, we probably need to be reminded of this possibility. Keep us from the addiction of false nostalgia. Read the solutions, too.

Warning: Small Midwestern cities are dying:
"But a lot of them will decline into backwaters, cut out of the global conversation, lived in by people who are too poor, too uneducated to afford anything better," Longworth said. Some will become ghettos, he added.

In introducing Longworth, Tom Kinghorn, treasurer of Ball State University, said Longworth's book Caught in the Middle: American's Heartland in the Age of Globalism, was "heartbreakingly familiar to many of us." Kinghorn spoke of "failing schools," "hollowed-out cities," "sometimes clueless politicians" and other problems.

The reasons for the decline of the Rust Belt are well known, Longworth said. They include high wages and relatively low skills, the rise of the Sun Belt, the loss of jobs to Mexico, Japanese superiority in the making of automobile, televisions and other products and globalization, including the Internet and the addition of several billion new workers from relatively poor countries.
There are solutions offered and I think they could be implemented here:
Longworth offered some answers: new technology, including green energy like wind, solar and biofuels; community colleges that teach 21st century skills; communities like Steubenville, Ohio, that are willing to link to big cities, even those like Pittsburgh that are in other states; embracing immigrants and public transportation like high-speed and light rail.

"I'd like to see this Midwest region take a truly regional approach to its problems and solutions," Longworth said. "Some of the Midwest's tired old towns and cities may not survive in any real sense. But those that do won't do it by relying on their own dwindling resources, by staying proud and independent, by refusing cooperation with other towns and cities.
Our political leadership needs to realize we must change, that the idea that if you want change then leave the state is dead.

We need to ask why Anderson and Muncie do not collaborate more.

We need to ask if our schools are training us into this backwater or not.

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