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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Is US a MetroNation?

Carlos Lozada in W.Post:
With all the despair over the American economy's disappearing jobs and plummeting growth, here's mind bender for you: There is no U.S. economy. The national economy, as we traditionally think of it, is a myth. A fake. Over.
So contend Bruce Katz, Mark Muro and Jennifer Bradley in the latest issue of the journal Democracy. The United States is not a single unified economy, they say, nor even a breakdown of 50 state economies. Instead, the country's 100 largest metropolitan regions are the real drivers of economic activity, generating two-thirds of the nation's jobs and three-quarters of its output. The sooner we reorient federal economic policies to support this MetroNation, the quicker we can fix the mess we're in.
America can no longer pretend that it is a single economy, nor can it imagine that it is a nation of independent, small towns, punctuated by large but isolated urban centers, the Brookings Institution scholars argue. It must embrace its metropolitan future.
The authors criticize one-size-fits-all federal rules -- on everything from transportation infrastructure policy to workforce training programs -- that stifle the creativity of metro areas and hamper their ability to tailor growth and development efforts to local needs.
But before trying to rework the relationship between the states and Washington, step one may be rethinking what we should even call these places. The California economy is really the San Francisco-Los Angeles-San Diego-San Jose economy, with those metro areas making up 72 percent of the state's GDP. And Chicago is not Chicago, but the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI region, the authors write, almost apologetically. Unwieldy as they may be, these bureaucratic handles encode the boundary-jumping, state-spanning, increasingly complex reach of metropolitan life.
Unwieldy puts it mildly. But if we can have the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, why not the Naperville-Joliet Cubs of Greater Chicagoland? Hey, whatever breaks the curse

Zoon Politikon)


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