So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Saturday, March 28, 2015
Thriving cities and dying countryside
When even Cracked does an article about the dying suburbs, something major is going on.
Cities have some serious advantages over the suburbs and rural areas. Everything is more compact. More people can be reached with less: less water lines, less roads, less power lines, and shorter distances to essential services. Even crime is getting worse outside of cities. Suburbs and rural areas don't have the resources to hire and maintain police departments. In my town we actually hire police from a nearby city because we can't afford our own.
The only thing that made suburbs and rural living possible was the car. True, the early suburbs were serviced by good trolley systems, but soon the car took over. These days Americans are falling out of love with their cars. They are expensive to buy, maintain, and transportation infrastructure is falling apart. Cities might be expensive to live in, but a lot of that expense is offset by not needing a car. Cities usually are both walkable and have decent public transportation. (except for a few, I'm looking at you Houston)
It wasn't all that many years ago there were good jobs outside of the big cities. Growing up I remember armies of men walking to the mill with their lunch boxes in hand. Those jobs are gone -along with half of my hometown's population. Instead of good manufacturing jobs high school graduates have to commute to low wage jobs in big box stores.
That being said, I'm not a fan of big cities. I have a real need for the natural world. Cities have everything but land and space. Cities also have a lot more rules and better systems of control. That's great if you are protecting citizens from outside threats. It's not so great if your government is the threat. In cities, safety costs a certain amount of freedom.
Of course, all that rural land is where people build meth labs, grow weed, and distill white lightning. Call it the downside of light government control.
Political power lives in cities. As times get tougher, the countryside is stripped bare to keep the cities going. That doesn't end well. When the cities finally do collapse, the countryside is so resource poor it can't support many people. Not only that, they can't protect what little they do have as there aren't enough people to provide security. Roving bands raid at will. We've seen it during the collapse of the Roman Empire, but it was like that in recent years when Argentina's currency collapsed.
In spite of the downsides, there are some of us who just don't do well in cities. One solution is to live way out in the country in places not worth robbing. The problem is being able to earn money in the here and now. While it's possible to live off the land, it's really hard to pay the taxes, fees, and expenses while doing so. No wonder the suburbs and rural ares are filling up with the retired, disabled, and those on welfare.
If I had to depend on a city for my livelihood I'd most likely live on a sailboat in a marina. That way it would be possible to reap the benefits of city life, but still have the ability to cast off the lines and disappear over the horizon. Dimitri Orlov who writes extensively about collapse lived on a boat in Boston. Of course, recently he's untied the lines and disappeared over the horizon, so maybe he knows something.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.