|This is far too common in the US|
Chuck is right on in this chapter. Our cultural approach to just about everything is to do the dumbest possible things, the things that bring quantity without looking at any of the important details that make up the quality of these things. In the case of jobs, we think that we'll continue to have better cities if only we create more jobs through two primary ways: increased infrastructure spending and playing the tax incentives game to attract jobs. So as Chuck asked, how's that working out? It's not, at all. We can no longer deny the qualitative side of things. Most cities in the US are literally crumbling. Ask yourself how can this be while we are still the richest country in the world?
The best economic strategy for a city is to create the most appealing and livable places that speak for themselves. If our places are utter crap in ways such as not being able to walk to things and having to drive everywhere, creating cheap built environment of the infrastructure and the building stock and having poor environmental conditions, then yes, you're going to have to bribe people to come and stay there. But why play that game? Why not create cities that are financially sustainable (meaning we don't build sprawl and we don't build new stuff only to abandon the old), visually attractive, highly walkable (again, less sprawl, more compactness), gives first class status to walking and biking instead of having to drive everywhere, making your city less noisy again by substantially reducing the need to drive a vehicle, encouraging and creating all kinds of fun local events to go to, be apart of and enjoy, etc.
This list is all about quality over quantity. We cannot continue to create cities that are built with a "throw-away" mentality. We're building things that need to survive for a long time because those are the only things that we actually take great pride in. Almost nobody will take pride in a cheap vinyl-clad house that has very little resale value. Nobody takes pride in a city that lets basic maintenance continually slide. Taking great pride in something creates the right incentives for people to want to be in your city, to set up a diverse set of businesses and to make deep and lasting connections to people and places all around you. This is such a huge divergence from the current cultural norm. But we need to get there because America can literally no longer afford to keep subsidizing crap and ignoring quality. Our quality of life is really starting to suffer financially, socially, physically, etc. Growth for growth's sake no longer cuts it. We've already picked all of the low-hanging-fruit of growth from our society. It's time to build with quality and prepare for the long run instead of only today. It's time to build things like the following, where people love to be and to visit:
|A public square in Vienna, Austria|