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I live in downtown Chicago (the Loop) after moving here from Boston in 2012. I work at a museum, wife runs a farmer's market business and daughter is in CPS while doing ballet on scholarship at Joffrey up the street. We don't own a car. I was always optimistic about here because it had all the big, modern city things with low prices. If you want to live a city life in the USA and are not rich, Chicago was your last chance. I don't think that has gone away.

Budgetary governance has improved in the 10 years I've been here (from abysmal to adequate) as have schools. My daughter attends a regular community (not selective enrollment) public elementary school and has had a terrific experience.

MY alluded to it, but the lakefront is AMAZING. I can't think of a single big city in the world that set aside it's entire waterfront for the public good and refuses to allow construction on it. DuSable Lakeshore Drive is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. Some of the best architecture on one side, and wonderful parks, beaches and lakes on the other. It really needs to be more well known as one of the USA's best jewels.

But crime is changing the brand of the city. If that continues I worry. At my museum we are seeing members fail to renew because they are worried about "driving downtown". And I don't know how to fix it. The police have basically stopped doing their jobs (arrests are down like 60% or so) and are hyper right-wing.

Construction is still going on all over the place in my community (South Loop). A 50+ story residential building is going up 2 blocks away and it began *after* the pandemic. So that's a sign that investors still believe at least. One local rumor is that some of the older office buildings in the financial district will be renovated into residential units.

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I live in Chicagoland but my company is in NJ. It'd be much easier recruiting here than in the NE and the cost of living is lower here. I'd also add that the gap between Chicago weather and other places has narrowed. Even though we still have cold and hot streaks, the winters don't feel as bad (most years) and we've had multiple summers that weren't that hot (this year excepted.

All that said, people just don't want to move here like they want to move to other cities, our opinions be damned. The region's identify is stuck in an unappealing middle. If you value dynamism, go to NYC, Austin, the Bay Area, etc. If you value ease of living, go someplace like Minneapolis. If you value a lower tax base, go to Nashville, Miami, etc. If you value nature, go to Denver, Seattle, etc.

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Excellent, nuanced point! Before I moved to Chicago, I never even considered it. Growing up in Dallas and then Boston, Chicago just wasn't on the radar except sports. Then I visited once for a conference and it blew me away. When this job opportunity (a dream job, very rare in my field of work) came, we jumped. And we haven't been disappointed. It's very common to talk to tourists/visitors to Chicago on the street and hear "This is beautiful! Is Chicago always like this?". Everyone's perceptions is grit and crime. Hollywood can help with more Chicago-based shows but otherwise I'm not sure what to do. The city needs to really promote a new image. I do think something with the lakefront is key. It really is a wonder of the world. Nothing like it anywhere.

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It's funny to read so many perspectives like these, because I distinctly remember feeling, circa 2000, like Chicago was generally perceived as a very cool place for young people to live, so much so that I thought it was overrated. Maybe that was because of Hollywood or TV shows or the afterglow of Michael Jordan, I don't know. But I definitely felt it. The incredible hype around Obama 2008 made it seem like it would stay that way forever.

Then sometime in the last 10 years or so, everything changed and it very abruptly started to feel like an incredibly underrated city.

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My story is similar. Raised in Northeast, spent years in the South, and never gave Chicago a second thought. Came because it was the cheapest of the job-rich no-car-needed cities and have been blown away. That said I spent two hours today checking out Dallas and it's very tempting. More affordable, better weather, closer to other significant metros including Austin's tech scene. And maybe even better in terms of career.

The crime thing needs to improve. I think we've gone too far with the "Chicago's crime reputation is a Fox News phenomenon" cope. The results on the ground need to improve, most importantly homicide.

Sometimes I wonder what % of the world population sees as much violence within 2 miles of their homes as people in South Shore or Englewood see. Is it 2%? 5%? It's just insane to me that a county can be in top 2% for global income but bottom 2% for public safety.

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So I liked most of what you said fellow Aaron and Chicagoan. But on crime, my perspective is that cops feel they are in a heads they win tails you lose situation. I’m not sure what exactly they should do differently with gun violence as they are blamed for any adverse situation that is being created by the criminal. Sure I think cops by nature are more authoritarian (it’s kind of the job right?). But you’d help me greatly if you’d explain what parts of their job that they should be doing and are not. Police involved shootings are way down. Pursuit policy was used to stop a chase of ‘alleged’ murders which I put in scare quotes because the cops witnessed the shooting!

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I think “most cops are terrified to do their jobs because the wokeists will try to have them thrown in jail” is not incompatible with “a minority of cops are throwing a bitch fit at the prospect of accountability”.

Lot of column A, bit of column B.

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Cops are also cowards, as we saw in Uvalde

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I love how ‘what happened in jurisdiction a’ explains everything I see in my jurisdiction or the other 3000

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Which, of course, is why virtually all of them have some or most symptoms of PTSD after year three, while we blame the 10-year veterans for being paranoid and, arguably at least, trigger-happy*.

*I know the wokeists apply a definition of trigger-happy that only a placid, opium-riddled addict would consider reasonable. My point is that even when they’re being genuinely trigger-happy, it might possibly have something to do with never being rotated out of high-adrenaline, high-stress assignments and receiving woefully inadequate mental health support.

Also, my email job is at least attempting to unfuck some parts of engineering project delivery in the US, so I’d like to think I’m kinda sorta helping, lol.

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Unironically, yes

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deletedJul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022
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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

I’d probably weight it a bit differently but dont disagree. I do think the police and their organizational leadership carry plenty of blame. The awful and broken criminal justice system is really the villain while the cops end up being janitorial staff.

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I'm not sure that you and I will agree on what's broken with it but I'm open to hearing more...

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There is a legacy to police corruption in this city. Every story has a multiplier in communities that also have the worst violence…which has created a vicious circle. It absolutely occurs top down so I don’t want to blame everyone in rank and file. But the police own that legacy.

OTOH the CJ system at large is a huge villain…too many people are simply placed on electronic monitoring pre trial while others sit and rot in country for up to 2 yrs. The number of stories coming out about people who serve one day in state prison and then are immediately paroled is shocking to an outsider like myself.

The pressure to plea out (the court system would collapse if they don’t) leads to criminals getting far more lenient sentences than they deserve. The police are seeing the same people over and over again on the street, which leads to cynicism and apathy.

Reformers attempt to solve some major problems (rotting in pre trial detention) but seem to ignore major risks to public at large. So you start to excuse things like illegal gun possession as a non violent crime somehow. I also think there is a streak of malevolence in our DA office from what you hear, lots of ASA’s quitting or retiring…using the most lawyer brain arguments to avoid charging (lookup mutual combatants and Chicago).

Trying to reform police without a bigger review of the rest of the CJ system (and just letting people out or not charging is not my idea of a sensible reform) is a huge mistake.

Other issues…never rotating cops through diff police districts or overnight vs day shifts, the massive over reliance on overtime….taking away the time off from cops because of the lack of new ones, leading to a net loss from retirement or coppers just getting away from Chicago….

But I think the pressure to plea down is the worst aspect of the system today. The only way to relieve would be to spend much more and build capacity…maybe remove jury trial options in certain cases.

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Policing is weird because the focus is entirely on individual cops and nobody every asks whether a *department* is good or bad at what they do (I suspect this is because leftists are incapable of rationally critiquing government agencies even if they dislike them, while right-wingers have a pseudo-religious attachment to cops and believe them incapable of sin).

It’s entirely plausible that NYC and Dallas PD’s are just better run than Chicago! Crime obviously isn’t just about policing but there is a staggering lack of interest in improving policing just generally

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Chicagoan here. One of the interesting aspects of the question about whether Chicago cops are allowing crime to run rampant is the fact that their pensions, which are already significantly underfunded, are in the long run dependent on a solid middle/upper-middle class population staying in the city. Otherwise, it’s bankruptcy and likely big cuts in their retirement packages.

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Arrests are way down. Murders are not getting solved. If you look at metrics, the police are not fulfilling their duties. Why this is happening is an important question, but isn't totally clear to me. Brutality tends to lead to poor clearance rates.

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Looks like CPD is severely understaffed compared to their budget/needs. Also happening elsewhere (New Orleans, top of mind). https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/officer-shortage-chicago-police-head-to-camp-pendleton-in-california-in-hopes-of-recruiting-marines/ Lots of cops retiring early from a now thankless job and few qualified people who want to sign up for it. Graham could speak to this personally.

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Murders always have been this way. Arrests are down due to many of the constraints that progressives wanted put in place.

There is some truth to what you are saying but to put this all on police is a mistake.

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Yup that’s the story I referenced. Un-fucking-believable.

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I feel like Chicago is one city where MY's crime takes are highly applicable - more visible cops & crack down on illegal guns. Armed robbery & carjacking were the biggest issues in the Hyde Park area and I feel both could be reduced simply by having cops just walk around more (UofC worked on doing more patrolling for this reason).

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Such an important perspective!

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Thanks for this

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This isn't about individual policy decisions that the city is making.

Chicago is just not going to be the most appealing city simply because of its geographic location. It isn't really possible for them to compete on a lot of these metrics.

Without strong national population growth we will always see some areas lose population, as there will be other areas that grow. Chicago has consistently been one of the more marginal cities that wasn't declining but fairly close to falling into a downward spiral, like Detroit and many other cities.

Without national population growth, Chicago may fully tip over into decline, which is tragic. But without national population growth there was always going to be some place that would enter into a downward spiral.

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Our host needs to be a little more careful with supporting statements. Yes, Caterpillar is moving its corporate headquarters but not from Chicago. The company has been headquartered in Peoria for a lot of years. Boeing's move is yet another example of senior management doing stupid things. The company left Seattle following the merger (another stupid move) with McDonnell Douglas) to in part get away from unionized workers at their main plant in Washington state and secondarily to capture a host of tax breaks offered by Illinois. Those conveniently expired this past year necessitating another move to capture more breaks, this time to Northern Virginia.

In both cases, the number jobs leaving the state are modest and principally executive and not manufacturing (I'm pretty sure Boeing does not have a manufacturing presence in IL while Cat certainly does).

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Yeah, with respect, but also with boots on the ground, I think this column is one of Mr. Yglesias's biggest misses.

Really, any argument that's strongly predicated on "now that we're in the post-covid remote work paradise" needs to step out of the Twitter/Substack class and just, like, *take a look at everyday traffic* and ask oneself if anything changed all that much.

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I totally get the point about the traffic and the Twitter bubble, but there might still be something there. The switch to Zoom might only be real for a small subset of a small subset of people, but if those people are in highly paid workforces they may punch above their weight in impact. If all tech start-ups went fully remote as a result of the pandemic, for example, that might not do much to traffic but might hit rents hard given lots of them were on new expensive leases.

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And I think an increase in traffic may have been caused by people buying cars during the pandemic because they didn’t want to use public transit. Not necessarily more commuting

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That’s anecdotally true in the Bay Area. Far as I know, BART ridership has never recovered.

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>>>BART ridership has never recovered.<<<

I feel like much of the commentary in recent times has been one long exposition of our species's funky time perspective. The pandemic struck the US only 2.5 years ago. And still isn't over!

I suspect a valid "post-pandemic" era doesn't even begin to show itself until 2025 or so. Or maybe 2030. This is turning out to be a grinder. Much like the Great Depression.

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Bart is the the only commutable way in to San Francisco from Oakland as long as parking $20 a day

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If you're able to take the ferry, strongly recommended. Sure, it's slower --- but it's a lot nicer, and they slashed the fares.

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Agree. And I have used BART each of the three times I’ve gone into the office since March 2020.

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Unless you company provides parking

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

My complaint may just be with the trolly/clickbait title--if it were posed as "A negative signal for Chicago policymakers to keep an eye on", no complaints here.

*Every* city needs to keep watch of these things! After DC (can't move Uncle Sam) and probably New York, I'd identify Chicago as #3 in the list of US cities that *least* need to worry about their intermediate futures. Even New York was infamously encouraged to drop dead by Gerald Ford.

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So Mat has said he actually misses SEO headlines. And the click bate wars.

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founding

Remote workers actually drive just as much on average as in-person workers. Instead of waking to lunch and dropping off the dry cleaning on the way, now those are two separate car trips. Transit is still way way below 2019 levels, and many of those trips are now cars. The zoom revolution means more people are moving to where they maybe always wanted to be... Somewhere they can afford the space for their home office, so the demand on housing and CBD retail is decoupled from traffic

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Yeah that might be right. I guess I'd like to see more data before drawing conclusions, though, because I can still see it the other way.

The office commute may have been 30-60 minutes each way. Even if you're daily going to lunch and dry cleaners, those would probably be closer. And why would you be eating out everyday or going to the dry cleaners as often as before? So those specific examples don't make much sense to me. For me, I don't even drive 10% of what I used to.

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I can't find the link now, but I saw this result ina study from GPS or LBS (cell phone) data.... I would have expected the opposite! FWIW I definitely drive more now, but I used to take the train to work and now I WFH

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Also a bunch of transit commuters stopped being able to (or wanting to) use transit at the height of the pandemic and bought cars. They paid the large sunk cost of purchasing a vehicle and maintaining insurance. The marginal cost to driving the car is relatively small (I mean a higher now because of gas prices). So it’s going to be hard to convince these new car owners to going back to transit when they’ve already paid into car ownership

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All the professional-managerial-class types in my bubble are obsessed with CBD products

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founding

Haha... I meant central business district

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But white collar professional jobs make a big difference to the economy and tax base.

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I think there is some truth to what you are saying, but:

-I'm not sure traffic is the best yardstick here. First, people drive for all sorts of reasons. Second, most Americans actually *don't* work in offices (something the Twitter/Substack class does sometimes forget) and pretty much all of these people are back on-site at work full-time by now. But because non-office jobs are more dispersed than office jobs, people who have them are more likely to drive to work. This could easily account for traffic being back to normal, which it pretty much is.

But in most American cities with passable transit systems - Chicago, Boston, DC, SF - transit riders actually out-earn driving commuters, because transit is disproportionately focused on getting commuters to and from the CBD. So I think transit ridership is a better proxy for this. And transit ridership is still *way down.* I think most cities' transit ridership is still around 50-60% of what it was pre-covid. (I just looked it up for Boston, and it was around that figure. NYC, where transit is less office-commute-oriented, may be a partial exception.)

-Marginal changes matter. Demand for office space doesn't have to decline all that much for us to see a major change in how cities are configured - even a drop of, say, 15-20%, would have huge implications. This will impact different cities in different ways.

Now, personally, I don't think Chicago is going to turn into Detroit; it has much more solid foundations (better infrastructure, a more diversified economy, universities). But could it shrink more substantially than we've seen? Yeah.

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White collar self-employed bubble is best bubble…

for navel-gazing take production.

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founding

Work travel is about a third of car trips. So a 10-20% decrease in work trips is a 3-7% decrease in traffic.

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Still, I doubt we’re down 10-20% of work trips.

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The argument is Chicago is close to a pivot point and will tip into a negative spiral from this small but meaningful shock. Not all that huge a shift in everyday life is needed. These types of predictions are quite fragile, but Matt’s calling for more immigration or for federal attention which seem like the two obvious ways things could proceed as he describes but Chicago stays on the good side of the spiral anyway.

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Looks like there's a huge ongoing impact in North Texas. Use of transit and visits to workplace are still down 20+%

https://i.imgur.com/tImpijb.jpg

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Caterpillar had moved its headquarters to the Chicago suburbs from Peoria a number of years ago because attracting talent to Peoria is hard.

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Anyways white collar executives pay a lot of taxes so them leaving isn’t great even if the larger factories in Peoria remain.

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Yeah Caterpillar is moving from Deerfield, IL (Chicago suburb) to the Dallas Fort Worth area. It had moved from Peoria in 2018.

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Beat me to it, I was going to make the same point about Caterpillar.

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I live in Chicago and agree that these moves don't necessarily signal a change in the overall trend of slight out-migration, both out of the metro area and, post-pandemic & crime/riots, out of the city to the burbs.

It doesn't change the conclusion of the post, but does importantly impact the magnitude and timing.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

On a 10-20 year time horizon, I think this is all reasonable forecasting, and it’s concerning.

Beyond that, I don’t know! I’m maybe too much of a homer to comment dispassionately here, but my source of optimism for Chicago & the Great Lakes (+ STL), relative to other metros, is a point made by Pete Saunders in his great blog about Chicago and the region it anchors, Corner Side Yard. “The cheap land/warm weather/low taxes formula can only go so far and last so long.” He agrees in other posts, though, that a proximate source of decline is federal lawmakers’ lack of imagination about what to do with this region.

Beyond that, a few other things come to mind when I think about what can separate Chicago’s fate from, say, Detroit’s:

- We’ve got U Chicago and Northwestern, and we’re the hub of the Big 10 group of state flagships, which stacks up favorably against even the UC system.

- I think Chicago’s international brand is much stronger than both neighbors like Milwaukee/Cleveland and fast-emerging metros like Dallas/Phoenix, so (non-winter!) tourism is a genuine source of income for what might otherwise be a distressed retail environment in/around the Loop.

- Friendly (or compliant?) state government. You and Ezra Klein and others have done a great job holding state & local Democrats’ feet to the fire about the poor quality of governance in urbanized Dem areas. But there’s a reason those pieces aren’t about sub-optimal state-level urban policies in TX, FL, AZ, WI, OH, TN, and maybe MI and PA. Republicans just do not care about cities and have been pretty clear that they’re not interested in even being free-market YIMBYs. It looks like Illinois will maintain a nominally pro-urban state government for at least a generation longer.

- Vibes. (hAvE yOU SeeN tHe BeAr oN FX yeT????)

Also lol at the Comic Sans in the 6th grade microeconomics graphs. I love ‘em.

Edit: I’m expanding on the vibes thing because I really wasn’t kidding! Indiana’s proximity to Chi has been horrible for our neighborhoods afflicted by gun violence, but one historical benefit they provided is to leave our lakefront mostly free of heavy industry unlike Milwaukee/Cleveland, so it’s just miles and miles of public beaches. NYC is similar, but the bounty of park space throughout the city beats the hell out of almost every other city east of the Plains (shoutout STL Parks, though). That plus good transit, direct flights everywhere, world-class restaurants & bars at every price point, established and experimental theater and music scenes, and affordable everything! As remote work filters down to the middle-class professional, there’s no reason (besides winter) this isn’t a great place to live for someone who’s cost-conscious but has a taste for life in a global city. MY kinda said it: everyone should move here!

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Not a midwesterner but I was going to make similar points. Chicago really does have world-class amenities (universities, hospitals, museums, airports) in a way that Detroit or Cincinnati do not. It also is under no threat as a regional hub (Minneapolis isn’t coming for it), and a lot of important non-sexy industrial and agricultural industries are anchored there. Crime is obviously a big issue and I don’t know what the growth strategy is but I think housing demand will remain robust enough to prevent a Detroit-style decline.

Obviously more immigration would be great as well, no objections there. And The Bear is fantastic.

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Cities with world class amenities are not immune to urban decline. Even NYC lost population in the 1970s and the 1980s and was synonymous with mugging and urban decay.

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Sure but that's different than what Matt is forecasting for Chicago, which is more of a long-term doom spiral a la Detroit or Cleveland.

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Well he thinks that New York and Boston rebounded mainly because of luck rather than any intentional policy. So I guess he isn’t convinced Chicago will have the same luck

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But the luck was not luck that showed up in the 80s and 90s, it was luck from their earlier history (and geography) that endowed the cities with inherent advantages that made them resilient. I'm saying Chicago shares a lot of that same luck, embedded in the points made upthread.

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Unless I'm missing something, Matt's footnote seems to imply that Boston is resilient because of the universities (notably Harvard and MIT). And as pointed out above, Chicago has two world-class universities as well in Northwestern and UC. They don't have quite the draw as Harvard/MIT, but maybe they set a floor on how low Chicago could go.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

MIT is from the 19th century (founded in 1861 days before the beginning of the Civil War). So maybe he was thinking about MIT not but it’s not one of the investments from the 16th or 17th centuries.

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…and Cleveland still hasn't been able to recover from the late 20th century despite them.

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Detroits problem isn’t the lack of top tier amenities. The problem is the city itself has been destroyed by a series of catastrophic planning mistakes that for a time drove the value of core adjacent land to near zero.

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Well its fate was also highly tied to one industry that has been in decline domestically for the past 40+ years. Perhaps that was a “planning mistake” but seems hard to plan around that at the city level.

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+1. There's also the legacy of segregation and the riots of the late 1960s. I grew up in the area in the aftermath of all that, and most of my friends' parents wouldn't set foot in the city if they could avoid it. My father grew up there, so we went regularly.

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Agreed. I grew up in the northern suburbs in the '90s and 2000s. The only times I can remember going to Detroit growing up were like one Tigers game, 2-3 school trips, and 2-3 "let's all go down to Detroit to help a soup kitchen" events with community groups.

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For what it’s worth, the Detroit airport is nice. Where else can you ride a light rail indoors?

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It is a nice airport. And true story: last time I flew out of Detroit (headed to Beijing) I got to meet fellow passenger and former president Jimmy Carter. Shook his hand and everything.

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Denver has light rail in the airport

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The Atlanta airport?

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Atlanta is actually debatable--the concourses it connects are all separate buildings (just look at any aerial picture of the airport). If it weren't for the pedestrian tunnel running the whole length of the AirTrain route, the Atlanta AirTrain would clearly be running "outdoors" as it were. I also don't distinctly recall from the one time I used it, but I don't believe that the landside ATL SkyTrain is indoors in the same way as the DTW ExpressTram.

There is one other all-indoor people mover that I know of--the landside "Subway" at Houston--see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subway_(George_Bush_Intercontinental_Airport) --but that one is *really* weird (per this Technology Connections video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2a9Yvo2Yyg) and is probably going to be closed soon.

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Thanks for clarifying Kareem- should have said “light rail within a single building” referring to DTW

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Just like most Chicagoans and MY, you conveniently forgot to mention that the city is actually three cities: a thriving North side and central city (call it a much better than Minneapolis), a pretty great if less thriving West side (call it a larger version of STL or Milwaukee), and a totally depressed and still depressing South side (call it Gary North if you want). This dynamic makes it hard to make any generalizations about the city as a whole, especially from corporate headquarter relocations.

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Even this is an over simplification. Check out Hyde park, bronzeville, the south west side. Hell even north of Garfield park on the west side is very nice.

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This is exactly right - Chicago as a whole is not growing very fast, but when you look deeper you see very strong growth in the greater Loop + North side and a lot of people leaving the South side. It's not a great that the city can't seem to retain the people on the South side, but it is a more complicated picture than the city just being stagnant.

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Sure but again you need to be more specific. Lots of neighborhoods on the south side are growing. One of the positives of the greater awokening I guess is that black people can actually move to the collar neighborhoods and nearby suburbs and not have Molotov cocktails thrown against their homes.

My neighborhood, Beverly is experiencing a pandemic tied boom and with a checkered past of its own boasts one of the most diverse demographics in the city. People are or were this pst year buying homes sight unseen because of the boom.

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"There's open land and abundant water here, and a natural confluence of ground transit, but no hurricanes" feels kind of underrated as a talking point.

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Or earthquakes, wildfires, floods*, mudslides. Not sure when the last time the Chicago metro area was hit by a tornado.

Yes, the river has flooded a couple times in the last 30 years, but while local businesses and downtown basements were affected, its nothing like the massive displacement of people like recent ones in Nashville or along the Mississippi or Red Rivers.

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Even tornadoes are individually scary but can't really be interpreted as a city-wide threat. Somebody will get unlucky.

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Yeah a given spot in Oklahoma, the most tornado-prone area of the US, will get significantly damaged by a tornado about once every 300 years... even this risk is far more tolerable than hurricane flooding. Even the largest tornadoes have a path that is only a mile or two wide, and it is usually far smaller.

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We sorta kinda had a tornado rip through the northside two years ago, although it was considered a derecho. It got very tornado-y when it hit the lakefront in Rogers Park.

https://www.timeout.com/chicago/news/check-out-photos-of-the-derecho-storm-that-rolled-through-chicago-081120

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92 in 153 years of history (from a weather.gov study 1855-2008). The only one of note that hit Chicago proper was the F4 in 1967. For whatever reason, probably just geographic dispersion and luck (ie the collar counties are much larger in terms of sq mileage).

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Agree re: the vibes point. I am from the NYC area, and currently live near Boston. I lived in Chicago briefly in my early 20s and I've always had a fondness for it. I like how it has the urbane sophistication that you can find in the coastal metros, but (mostly) without the annoying pretentiousness or alpha-striver mentality that is common in the coastal cities. If you're middle-class, like cities and can deal with the brutal winters, it's just a really nice place to live.

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It will be interesting to see how increasingly warm winters will affect people's perceptions of Chicago as a place to live and work.

Far more volatile (and unpredictable), but also of interest, will be how the post-Dobbs world will affect the desires of many companies and college-educated workers to move to places like Texas rather than the Chicago area.

The future's uncertain, but I'd put my money on Chicago looking pretty good 20 years from now.

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I don't think Dobbs is going to matter much.

People choose where to live based on financial reasons (where is the best job, relative to the cost of living), not politics. Unless large numbers of people are willing to take large pay cuts, just to live in a blue state, it won't impact companies' location decisions.

And, in practice, I just don't see that happening. Only a small percentage of the total population (remember, half the population is men) will ever need or want an abortion to begin with. Those that do, the difference in pay between two jobs will almost certainly exceed the cost of travel.

Sure, the few people that do elect to make a noble sacrifice to their career for the sake of making a political statement will make a big deal about it on Twitter, creating the illusion that it's widespread. But, corporate HR departments are very rational and, they know that, at the end of the day, a few people on twitter does not describe the overall population. In the real world, people will grumble, but at the end of the day, they will take the best job for their career and deal with the abortion situation when and if they have to (and most will never have to).

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>>>I don't think Dobbs is going to matter much. People choose where to live based on financial reasons (where is the best job, relative to the cost of living), not politics.<<<

I think it largely depends on post-Dobbs legislation in the states. If you had asked me ten years ago what would happen after the repeal of Roe, I'd have replied that movement conservatives would have said "Hurrah! Abortion is now a state matter. Let's pocket the win and get on with the task of kneecapping labor unions and environmental laws."

But that's not what they're doing.

They seem to be intent upon positively medieval shit like going after citizens across state lines, banning gay marriage, outlawing contraceptives, and so forth.

So, while I don't disagree most people place economic concerns highly when making decisions on where to live, I do think it's quite likely that we may soon begin to see large *employers* think twice about locating or expanding or investing in states like Texas (at least if the tide isn't turned via political wins by Democrats). With time, this could conceivably have a non-negligible economic effect, with an eventual impact on population patterns.

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The irony, of course, is that if Republicans really do go all in on the "medieval shit", and the result being a net migration of Democrats out of the state, the people left behind get redder and redder. The only way states like Texas can ever hope to flip is if Democrats move into the state, not out of it.

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I hadn't thought of that angle. But it's depressingly plausible.

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This is probably true, but the most astonishing political change I've seen in decades is the increasing polarization in our society. It's not just red vs blue states; it's red and blue areas penetrating deeply into states. I don't know where this will head but a simple linear extrapolation suggests this will become increasingly important in other areas people care about, especially as states enact policies that have more direct impact on one's life.

But most simple linear extrapolations turn out to be wrong because the world is complicated, so we'll just have to wait and see.

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I’m a Texan (San Antonio) that recently moved to STL (for work). I’ve been to Chicago a handful of times and have always loved it.

So far my take on the midwest is that it is much less hot than Texas, and MY is right, in that the biggest challenges I can see for the region is a lack of people. Hard to find people to work, support restaurants, buy and rent houses, etc.

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20 years is a long time and 20 years of death spiral is a lot of suffering. I don’t know how you can just look through that.

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I guess what I'm saying is I don't think it'll be a death spiral for Chicago, but rather a slump relative to successful peers. I think MY's prediction for Chicago is wrong where it might be right (or already has been) for nearby metros. But you're right that I didn't say that explicitly, and yeah I think the medium-term political position is going to cause a lot of unnecessary suffering.

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(Besides winter)

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Ugh I knowwww but Boston's & Austin's weather prospects over the next 10 years are literally way worse than Chicago's! It's looking like it'll never be under 100F in Austin ever again, and Boston's gonna get smacked by the Jet Stream destabilizing. So, idk, I go back to Saunders's point: these preferences aren't stable.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

One of my friends is adamant the midwest will be a big winner of climate change because of that. If Chicago's winters were ever as mild as DC's I think I could pull the trigger (I'm soft to the cold).

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Something no one here or on Twitter seems to have brought up is the Chicago area has a very high concentration of nuclear plants during a time of high energy prices/unavailability and climate change. There are far more nuclear plants around Chicago than any other places in the country. I would argue this is a HUGE advantage for Chicago and the surrounding area. Electricity prices actually went down in Chicago this year compared to the rest of country due to a power purchase agreement the state of IL signed with the nuclear plants last fall.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Wow, great point !

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One salient feature in Chicago is sharp differences in the trajectory of neighborhoods (crime, housing prices, amenities). Some are wealthy or stable, and may lose population due to converting multi family to single family residences. A few are in something resembling classic gentrification (Logan Square, Pilsen). You can spend a lot of money on a house, although not by Bay Area standards.

The population loss is primarily African American, and concentrated in south and west side neighborhoods with serious crime problems and decaying housing stock. Even in more affluent black neighborhoods like Bronzeville or Chatham housing prices have not done well since the financial crisis, often to the detriment of homeowners.

Loss of immigration being a large factor is absolutely true.

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Right, the citywide stats gloss over a lot of variation. There are already many neighborhoods where prices are below cost of replacement, and others with higher demand.

That said, it's not like Chicago is a well governed city in terms of schools or policing. It would be easier to feel sanguine about the city if it was a bit better run.

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Are the schools overall worse-run than in other cities? The labor issues do seem worse.

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Probably not worse but mayoral control over schools is being reduced and that might not be a good thing in the medium term. The selective enrollment CPS schools are quire good (for now).

Many suburbs in the area have good schools to go along with their high property taxes. That (and strong private schools, which Chicago has) does matter to employers. Most metro areas don’t have the same capacity.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

I thought Chicago’s schools is notoriously divided into a lot of small school districts, so revenue for education is really dependent on local property values, rather than being distributed equally across the city. Wealthy neighborhoods pay into their own local school district, leaving the schools outside these wealthy enclaves underfunded

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Are you thinking of the suburbs? There is only CPS for the city proper. Some wealthy neighborhoods donate to their public local schools at high rates if that’s what you recall.

Teacher comp is good at CPS, working conditions (and relationship of the union to the mayors/city) not so great.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Yes I was thinking about Cook county as a whole

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I mean Chicago and Cook County should probably be amalgamated. At a minimum. At a maximum Chicagoland should secede from Illinois and then adopt single-tier local government.

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It is interesting though that many Black people are looking around their struggling neighborhoods and deciding to move to Dallas or Atlanta instead of trying to move to a part of Chicago with more economic opportunity.

I think Matt is very clear in explaining things in simple terms but urban prosperity is so incredibly complicated that I think these "Seattle is not going to do well" or "Chicago is not going to do well" pieces aren't super helpful honestly.

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I think this is also a simplification. Many black families are moving to the south and western suburbs. Again no one writes stories about this because flight is a tale as old as time

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The north side is more expensive; for many it just makes more sense to move to some place more affordable in the Sun Belt.

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yeah its interesting that part of Chicago is like an expensive coastal city (maybe Boston) and part is more like Detroit but there's no "Dallas" part really?

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founding

“Bos-troit” is a term I’ve heard for both Chicago and Philadelphia.

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I like your version better than the "1/3 San Fran, 2/3 Detroit" phrase I've heard before.

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Yeah, my understanding is that if you divide Chicago into North and South, the story already looks abysmal on the South but the North looks good. Anecdotally, my sister-in-law and her family are moving TO Chicago at the end of the month partly to be closer to her parents but mostly for the world-class care opportunities for her special-needs child.

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That’s probably a bit over simplified. South loop basically grew from nothing about 30 or so years ago and was the fastest growing neighborhood in the city. Bronzeville is going through gentrification concerns. Hyde Park has UofC. Meanwhile there are several rough neighborhoods on the north side. Far southwest side in pretty good shape. And there are some great schools down there.

Crime is by far the biggest problem in this city.

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South Loop is not the South Side in any meaningful sense. Hyde Park is not only an outlier in Chicago, but in the whole country, in that it is a wealthy, racially integrated, inner-city neighborhood (due to UofC and its history as an enclave suburb).

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This is incredibly wrong on so many accounts. I’m not sure what else to say. South loop has connections into bronzeville, Chinatown and Bridgeport. Those are not south side? HP to kenwood and increasingly to Woodlawn. To call HP a suburb is a joke…you clearly don’t know that neighborhood.

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Hyde Park isn't a suburb now, but it was originally a wealthy suburb that the City of Chicago annexed, which is a large part why it has so many mansions and such nice parks.

South Loop is essentially an extension of the Loop, hence the name, and is of very recent origin.

(I have lived in both of these places.)

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Congrats that you missed the boat on both? HP was annexed when exactly? 1889!! It’s a very dense urban neighborhood with a few mansions. So what?

So apparently when we talk about the southside we have to couch terms exclusively as urban blight, gangs or something more racially tinged? South loop has more black people than most of the north side neighborhoods you are alluding to. It also has more Asians…tied no doubt to the loop but also Chinatown. Is Chinatown not part of your south side?

You need to rethink many of your priors.

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"South Loop" is kind of an ill-defined neighbourhood, but north of bronzeville is definitely not the region people mean when they talk about Chicago's south side.

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You could have fooled me pal when I had my kids at NTA (cermak and state thank you)!

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I get that, nothing that broad is going to be as granular as all that.

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But the neighborhoods I’m talking about cover at least 20% of city population. No one talks about these areas because the focus is on 6 north side neighborhoods and downtown…the rest of the city gets caricatured as a cesspool. It’s not.

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The tax base death spiral is such a unique feature of America. I know it's deeply embedded in American governance but "there was a negative shock to the furniture industry so now cops' and teachers' pensions might not get paid" seems highly suboptimal.

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It's probably better than spending decades discussing how to add an airport runway in the national Parliament.

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Are you thinking of an actual example?

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The UK endlessly discussed Heathrow expansion.

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That's the downside of more local and state autonomy.

I still prefer that to everything being nationalized, given our dysfunction, but I can see how people could reasonably disagree.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Other countries don’t pay municipal workers’ pensions from its tax revenue? Maybe I’ve just been to US centric to understand an alternative. How do other countries handle post industrial cities in decline? Basically that the federal government bails out a city if its tax base tanks?

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National governments are responsible for pensions in most countries, rather than America's method of relying on local/state governments. So in the US because the nation as a whole has experienced growth there would be little cause for concern regarding pensions. But because an individual state can experience a drastic tax revenue shock, pensions for some people can be gutted while the nation as a whole prospers.

As for the question of how countries handle post-industrial cities, yeah a lot of them go the bailout route, though most also are not nearly as allergic to industrial policy as the US is. Often the response to post-industrial decay is like, how can we figure out a way to get jobs located in this place. That comes with its own host of problems, since those jobs would be more productive if the market just allocated them efficiently (so in our case we might try to encourage jobs to be in Chicago instead of New York, which would be good for Chicago but since New York is a more productive city it might be on net worse).

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It's sort of interesting to compare US states with European countries. National govts in Europe are often pretty directly comparable to US states, post Euro, in that it's illegal to mint more money when the country/state needs it. Populations are similar (though in most cases, geographic size is not). In that sense, I don't think there should be much difference between a nation in Europe and a state in the US handling pensions.

My guess is that the reason there is a difference, and likely much more stability in EU nations, comes down to language (and a little bit of culture). In theory, after the EU, it should be just as easy to move around between countries as it is states, but I'm guessing in reality that doesn't happen. Nokia can't just pick up and move to Portugal the way Boeing completely left the state of Kansas, because you'd either need to completely replace the workforce or teach the old workforce a new language. Not to mention the cultural pride of VW and BMW being built by Germans. Americans don't give a damn whether their Ford was built in Michigan or Ohio or Kentucky or Missouri. They barely care if it was built in the US vs Mexico.

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I just moved back to a the US after living in Europe for over a decade. I've never lived in this state or even this part of the country before, so I find myself often making these kinds of comparison between American states and European countries all the time.

I'm hardly an authority on the topic, but my observation is that language and culture do make a big difference. (Language less so, because Europeans are used to learning new languages.) It is just way easier for a Texan to uproot and move to Colorado than it is for an Italian to move to Belgium. One of the reasons that I left Europe is that, even after all of the years there, I was still constantly bumping into the glass ceiling for non-natives. There are just so many nuances that you are blind to in your own culture that create barriers for foreigners. I've lived in four US states and never encountered any cultural friction.

A big difference, though, is that European countries don't have to balance their budgets, so they can borrow to cover costs during a downturn. And I would wager that the amount of money flowing to/from member states to Brussels is lower than to/from states and Washington.

As for companies, the white collar jobs are all in English because they compete EU-wide for talent and member states compete for their headquarters, so the dynamic is much more like American companies hopping between states. After the Brexit vote, a bunch of companies moved their manufacturing out of the UK (to stay in the customs union). I had some friends who worked for Philips and they pretty much just offered big bonuses to managers to straddle the old and new locations and oversee training the new workforce. It didn't seem like that much more trouble than a factory moving in the US.

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I didn't know that about balance sheets or white collar jobs. Both would certainly matter.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

I think Matt is missing a phenomenon that's happening in places like New York and California, a lot of people are leaving but not the rich. It's the same with Chicago. The South and West side of the cities have seen huge population declines. A lot of Black people, fed up with the persistent violence, have left the city. But we're still growing as a city right now (albeit slowly) because rich people and yuppies want to live everywhere north of the Loop. I've lived in the West Loop for a few years and seen a ton of new buildings going up recently. Demand for apartments is still quite strong in this area, and unless all of the developers are idiots (which I guess is possible), they clearly don't share this concern that Matt does.

Moreover, as others have pointed out, the idea of some mass exodus companies leaving Chicago is misleading. Boeing found a better bribe. Caterpillar is gonna lay off maybe 1000 people here, and the Citadel guy is a world class asshole so much so that he's been in the Tribune nonstop the past month talking about how he has to leave Chicago for Florida because Ken Griffin appears to have a hard-on for Desantis. Moreover, natural churn in corporate HQs is what happens. McDonalds recently moved their HQ to Chicago. Kellogg's is about to move their HQ to Chicago. Pretty sure the city will be ok.

I normally agree with all of Matt's columns but I think this a swing and a miss.

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I think Matt's thesis is a bit alarmist, too. HOWEVER, Chicago definitely hasn't partaken of the urban resurgence nearly to the same extent as other, formerly stagnating US cities (or in some cases metros). Simple population statistics bear that out: Chicago counts fewer residents than it did in 1990, whereas NYC, Boston, DC, SF, Seattle, Atlanta and so on are quite a bit larger than they were 25 years ago. Chicago's metro area is similarly stagnant in terms of population growth (DC's CSA has now surpassed it; I reckon by 2030 so will the Bay Area).

Is that a crisis? I'd say far from it. The region is home to nearly ten million people who mostly seem to be doing ok. And Chicago itself (and Cook County) eked out population increases per the latest census. And it remains more affordable than those other, bluer metros. If you want a truly massive, dense, Manhattan-like urban core packed with top end amenities and a high degree of walkability, Chicago gives you bang for the buck like no other US city. Maybe for the folks who live there, **not** turning into NYC, Toronto or SF in terms of housing (un) affordability is far better than the alternative, even if that is purchased at the price of a certain degree of urban dysfunction or relative decline. Who am I to say? (There's something to be said for not being stressed that your kids will have to move far away to start families of their own).

But there does seem to a "punching below its weight/not living up to potential" vibe about the place in terms of crime, job creation , fiscal problems and so on. So there *is* some vulnerability there that could perhaps create a deterioration dynamic absent strong leadership (per the reasons Matt cites). It bears watching.

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And while many of the people on the south and west sides are leaving, most are going to Chicagoland suburbs. It’s just not as fun to write that story as to talk of a black return to the south.

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Perhaps there is a bunch of churn within the metropolitan area, but the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area is indeed losing population [1], so it's not just people moving from the city proper to the suburbs.

[1] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CHIPOP

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Isn't anything after the census an estimate? All the news I heard was that the Chicago MSA grew about 2.1% from the 2010 census to the 2020 census, which bears out on that chart. Not sure what to make of a net 100,000 people potentially leaving a metro area right after the census...

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Lots of cross-prevailing factors around these types of questions, the prioritization of which will seem obvious in retrospect but are hard to parse between now:

+ Chicago (and many/most Midwestern metros) are well advantaged for the post-office world as their central business districts (high grade aesthetics/amenities, superior urban fabric and scale, killer transportation connections) are highly conducive to residential redevelopment. Chicago's central business district, for instance, has been one of the fastest growing residential neighborhoods in the US for like a decade

+ The Midwest generally has the largest margin for error/improvement in living conditions vis a vis climate change. Fresh water, relatively cool legacy climate, no sea level risk, etc. An advantage both for internal migration but also with respect to the accommodation of global migration (in a way that Boston or Miami might not be ready for)

+ Superior physical and infrastructure positioning for logistical/industrial redevelopment especially as it pertains to new/emerging industries as well as the Amazon-ization of the consumer economy

+ For Chicago in particular, a huge intra-region premium from having a reliably 'Blue' state level policy regime when it comes to the fight for talent in the interior of the country

To me the biggest problems facing the city (and by corollary, other Midwestern cities) are twofold:

- crime, violence and social order. Given social and economic trends since the 1970s, economic decay has fallen disproportionately on Midwestern cities, even as areas within them have grown/remained highly affluent. The strategy for insulation from these trends in many decades in these metros was brute segregation so as allow affluent residents to more or less pretend the problem wasn't real. With the rise of social media and the loss of momentum of mega-routines (i.e., the daily inflow/outflow of commuters from downtown) there is much more velocity toward intentional and unintentional physical conflict

- terrible political leadership. I think this mainly comes from the voters. In Chicago, at least, the affluent College educated Northsiders have adopted ideological attitudes and self interest platforms that are utterly unworkable for urban level governance ("transactional politics is corrupt!" "No to upzoning!" "What is my alderman's stance on Palestine!") while massive population loss has eroded the potential clout of ethnic/racial power power bases on the South Side. I don't know if the dynamic is the same in other cities, but there are still relatively low pain solutions to things like pension reform (namely, create a much less generous benefit scheme for newly hired workers but keep contributions the same, watch the problem resolve actuarially over time) but no one has the juice to do it.

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“the affluent College educated Northsiders have adopted ideological attitudes and self interest platforms that are utterly unworkable for urban level governance ("transactional politics is corrupt!" "No to upzoning!" "What is my alderman's stance on Palestine!")”

Post-scarcity politics FTW!

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This just isn't true--Chicago politics is filled with machine pols, not wokes, even from North Side neighborhoods

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Eh, there has been a decent number of machine pols who have lost elections recently or have been indicted. It's definitely swinging more towards modern progressives in the city council.

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The political leadership part sounds very reasonable. It's a bit depressing that politics doesn't seem to allow for those simple solutions.

I'm confused about the 2nd-to-last paragraph. How does the loss of mega-routines increase violence? Is there really that much of a loss, anyway? I don't think downtown commuting has fallen more than 10-20%. Most people, including 100% of blue collar workers, are still heading to job offices like they did pre-pandemic.

I'm also confused by what you mean by brute segregation. It implies to me that there was a differently enforced, non-economic sort of segregation in the 70's to 90's that's since gone away. I'm more used to hearing people say that segregation today is the same as it always was.

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I don't have figures handy but subjectively I would estimate that downtown commuting is down by something like 50%-60%. I don't have much meat on the bone in the theory here, but can only share that the Loop, especially after dark, feels much less regularized than it did pre-Pandemic in terms of atmosphere and sense of safety, and my best guess (emphasis on guess) would be that being related to it's newfound relative desertion.

Re: the segregation, I think I probably just wasn't clear. The strategy had always been "out of sight, out of mind" segregation. Both sides of the segregation divide understood this. What is different now is that young people from those historically segregated areas are using technology to coordinate intentional movement en masse into areas that had formerly been zones of heavily enforced segregation-adjacent norms. You see a lot of these tactics being deployed opportunistically (i.e., flash mob robberies of stores on Michigan Avenue) but a lot of it is also just frustrated young people coordinating to claim a right to the City (large as hoc gatherings at Millennium Park, North Avenue beach, etc. that have from time to time slipped into chaos largely on account of hundreds of 13-18 year olds all abruptly converging on the same space)

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This of course has a very "easy" solution, that simply requires a certain kind of political will. Namely more literal "brute" part in the non-literal segregation. Re-introduce heavy-handed law enforcement. Of course this is not fashionable among the wealthy right now, but we're still in an ultra-safe and comfy lifestyle for America's elites, thus allowing them to make the concept of "safety" totally abstract and detached from reality. Should that change significantly, I shudder at the authoritarian tendencies they might subscribe to. The pendulum tends to swing way too hard from one extreme to the other.

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Great post, but at least for the teachers the pension situation has already been put in place…two tier system today. Thanks Rahm!

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>>>The tax base shrinks, but legacy pension obligations don’t, and the ratio of taxes to public services becomes worse.<<<

This raises a pet peeve of mine: the finance arrangements of municipal government.

Clearly it makes sense for many different types of government *services* to be administered and delivered at the local level. People in cities and towns have greater knowledge of local conditions, after all.

But *financing* these services via the narrow tax base of an individual municipality doesn't make much sense. I can't imagine we'll ever substantially change the status quo. But if I were Emperor, I'd arrange it so that each state had a single tax code*, and simply remitted to municipalities a fixed share of the overall revenue pot, based on population.

(*You could obviously take it one step further and do this at the national level: a single tax code for the country, which fixed share revenue streams going to the states/municipalities; but that's a different discussion, and wouldn't be feasible under the current constitution).

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You’re alive!

How’s Dynamic Zero COVID going for you?

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Tedious. Life in Beijing is tolerably normal, if you don't mind twice weekly virus tests. But travel is highly restricted. Waiting to hear back from my employer for green light on travel plans.

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Sounds about right.

We got my father-in-law out, somehow.

Dunno when if ever anyone will get to go back for a visit.

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I have a relative still stuck in Shanghai.

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I’m not sure you could sustain world-class cities on the levels of taxation and services that hinterlands voters would buy into.

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I get the sentiment, but I think it's half-baked. Citadel isn't "leaving Chicago". Ken Griffin is moving to Miami. The people I know who work at Citadel say that it's for his personal tax reasons but he needed to make a big stink about moving the HQ to justify it. Citadel's large operation needs to remain in Chicago for reasons of inertia but also to be close to the CME.

Boeing moved it's small HQ from Seattle to Chicago in 2003 (I think) to be closer to their main customer, United, and are now moving to be closer to their new main customer, the U.S. military. No one in Chicago really knows anyone who works for Boeing. Same for Caterpillar, which was in the far north suburbs for just a few years and is now moving to be closer to their oil and gas customers in Texas.

On the flip side, Chicago attracts tons of HQs in the consumer products space, especially food and beverages. Heinz, Miller Coors, Kellogs, GE Healthcare all relocated or are relocating to Chicago for the same reason Boeing left. To be closer to their customers and talent. I think what has been observed in this piece is that one of Chicago's strengths is also a weakness: it has a very diverse economy. That's great for preserving wealth, but an economic portfolio like that isn't great for zooming off into the future if you happen to be the seat of a hot industry, like finance or social media tech.

Right now Google is hiring 1000 engineers here and is likely to place them in the Loop. I think there are 29 tower cranes up right now. O'hare has recently become the U.S.'s number international port, by dollar volume (iPhones).

Chicago is second only to NYC in the number of Fortune 5000 companies in the city limits. Fort six years in a row Chicago has been #1 in the U.S. for foreign direct investment. #5 globally, behind London, Paris, Singapore and Amsterdam. Chicago's population is flat or slightly up, but the city has gained over 500,000 college grads in the last 13 years.

Chicago has two top 10 universities. It's at the corner of Main and Main for U.S. rail or highway distribution networks. It has the only commercial airport with six parallel runways (and in seven or eight years, will have the only terminal in the U.S. people will want to fly internationally to). It has excellent transportation infrastructure that couldn't be built for $2T in the U.S. today. And it's got 23 miles of fresh water access.

There are only so many walkable, urbane places in the U.S. As places like Austin and Phoenix become as expensive as Chicago, but lack most of Chicago's legacy assets, it's going to keep vacuuming in recent college grads who want to live in a REAL city but don't want to have to get on a flight to visit family.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Impressive list. I'm sold if I don't get mugged.

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Obviously the violent crime rate in Chicago could be improved. It's a little higher than Houston and a little lower than Miami and D.C. (and a lot lower than St Louis or New Orleans, obviously) But for good or ill, Chicago is a very big city and the vast majority of crime is in areas that are fairly isolated. A contiguous area made up of the Near North Side, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown, Lincoln Square, North Center, Rogers Park, and West Ridge have a combined population as of 2020 of 544,563--about the same as Seattle--and had only19 total murders for 2021 or a rate of 3.49 per 100K people. Atlanta has 498,715 people in 2020 with 156 murders. There's a contiguous area on on the north side of Chicago with more people than San Francisco and a far lower violent crime rate than San Francisco. It's as easy to live in Chicago and avoid crime as it is in an average part of Toronto.

There are big areas of the city that are very safe and then there's parts of the city that are not. Labeling any entire city as such usually doesn't do it justice.

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Good perspective, thanks!

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founding

All this sounds good but what do you mean by “in seven or eight years, will have the only terminal in the US people will want to fly internationally to”?

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O'Hare's terminal two is being town down and replaced with a new international terminal that has improved customs and assigns gates dynamically, like they do at Heathrow, Madrid or Amsterdam. It's going to be very easy to clear customs in O'hare and connect to any other flight at ORD without having to be re-screened or change terminals. This setup is common at the major international hubs outside of the U.S., but it will be the first example of this configuration at a major U.S. airport.

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Wait, they're going to be doing airside transit? How did they get the feds to sign on to that?

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

As someone who values property for all of Cook County, I think this analysis is making a fundamental mistake that's hard to avoid unless you're very familiar with Chicago: it's essentially two cities. The one north of and including Pilsen (but excluding Austin) is thriving. New homes are being built (but not quickly enough), condos are getting more expensive, skyscrapers are going up, rents are rising, etc. What is primarily the South Side + Austin is caught in a doom spiral for a number of historical reasons, and people are fleeing those areas to the suburbs, Texas, and Georgia. People aren't buying homes there, and the city looks stagnant because that part of it is shrinking - but this also means the north and northwest sides, the west side, the near south side and the loop are growing.

So am I concerned about Chicago's future as a whole? Not particularly. The city is losing its poorest residents and gaining wealthier ones at about an equal clip. Crime is an ongoing issue, but it doesn't seem to be pushing people out of the north side.

What is tragic, though, is that a history of redlining and segregation has basically ended with the city's Black population feeling like it has no future in the city and thus has to leave for greener pastures.

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""...the birthrate has continued to decline. In the longer run, we should be doing much more to support parents and children..."

I was talking with a local Ob-Gyn. He told me that in the weeks since Dobbs came down, he has received a spike of demand from young women for tubal ligations. And he feels horrible about this. Because on the one hand, you hate to see young people make any decision that they may come to regret, esp. a decision as momentous as sterilizing yourself. On the other hand, you have to respect people's bodily autonomy, and esp. when a radical religious fundamentalist group has taken over the courts and is denying women's bodily autonomy.

Everyone has a right not to be enslaved and held to involuntary servitude. All the more so do we have a right not to be held to involuntary servitude by any random thug who can drug us or overpower us. And yet the Opus Dei cult has now declared that women have no right to maintain their liberty and autonomy when assaulted and raped. Except by sterilizing themselves preemptively.

Dobbs is going to lead to a lot of involuntary servitude, and many fewer wanted babies. Many women will choose sterilization over the risk of being forced by a rapist -- and their government -- to become breeding machines for little rapist juniors. It's a horrible choice to face. And it's the result of a horrible deprivation of rights.

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While Republicans can take first-order responsibility for the immediate effects of draconian abortion bans in some states, it seems unfair to pin this entirely on them. The cultural left has been pushing a combination of “having kids makes you miserable” and “having kids is immoral because climate change” for years now. Women who weren’t terrified of the idea of EVER having kids would opt for an IUD or something reversible. If they’re going for ligation (or the similar surge in men seeking vasectomies) it’s because they’ve convinced themselves that having kids is a fate worse than death. (Setting aside of course the people with health conditions that really could lead to death if they got pregnant.) This is a strange place to be as a species.

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Good point, Marie. Also, look at the way she was dressed.

You do know that they are going after IUD's next, don't you? They are being classified as abortifacients, so that it will be illegal to have or offer them.

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All the more reason to go for an IUD now eh?

Also I should admit I wasn’t thinking about rape cases when I typed my reply. I frankly find it hard to believe there is a surge of women afraid of becoming pregnant due to rape so they are seeking out tubal ligations even though they actually want kids some day.

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This is hyperbolic nonsense.

Republicans want to ban IUDs in the same way that Democrats want open borders.

You have a very small minority of people who really do openly support it, a small minority who support it in all but name, but won't say it outright, and then the remaining 80%+ of society.

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I know, right? Can you imagine the reaction among core GOP voters in their late 30’s with 3 kids already if someone decided to *ban birth control*?!

Lol. Even if the Supreme Court punts that back to the states, only MS and TN are even *candidates* for not immediately relegalizing it.

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Almost 100% of House Republicans just voted against making contraception legal at the federal level

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founding

That’s just virtue signaling to their hard core base. If there were an actual threat to contraception legality they would start to think a lot more carefully.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Protecting contraceptive access at a federal level =/= banning contraceptive.

Also, it shouldn't be handled at the federal level.

Also also, the wording of the bill would include protections for pills that are used for abortion.

Some might even consider the bill to have included...a poison pill.

*ba dum tiss*

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Protecting the rights of the individual absolutely should happen at the federal level.

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In the meantime, IUDs and other reversible forms of birth control are still legal, and any future ban is quite speculative at this point and very unlikely in most of the country. "I can't get an IUD because an IUD may become illegal at some point in the future" seems like an odd idea.

I want to second Emily's question below: "Are you somewhere where abortion rights have been restricted or look like they're going to be?"

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"IUDs and other reversible forms of birth control are still legal, and any future ban is quite speculative at this point and very unlikely in most of the country."

I agree with this statement.

But lots of folks my age (early 20s at the time, mid/late 30s now) would have replaced "IUDs and other reversible forms of birth control" with "abortion" in that statement back in 2009.

Having been proven horribly wrong about that, I don't think we can just dismiss women who feel like they don't want to take that chance. It's also not hard to imagine a scenario where tubal ligations are outlawed. (I don't think that's remotely likely - but I can imagine it!)

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If we do outlaw either of those things broadly, and you live in a blue state, you will have years of notice because it will be happening in red states first (and your state politics will be changing as well), or the federal government will be going in a very different direction. And unlike abortion, where you can't schedule when you need it, you only need a tubal once and you can decide when you want it. IUDs aren't permanent, but they are very long-lasting. Getting one now and seeing how all of this plays out is not really taking a chance -- it's waiting for more information before you make a permanent choice.

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I agree with you. I don’t recommend anyone get a tubal ligation post-Dobbs who didn’t want one pre-Dobbs. But I think people making the decision to do so are mistaken, not crazy, and I would encourage us to approach the matter with empathy.

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I don't dismiss the feelings or emotions. It's hard to put yourself in another person's shoes, emotionally. But I am disagreeing, very strongly, with the logic.

Support for birth control is much larger and broader than support for abortion was 10 years ago. So we are not headed towards a place where IUDs will be illegal and unobtainable for anything but a small amount of Americans (if that) anytime soon.

And like Emily said, if that even happens at all, most women will have months to years of time to prepare. A tubal ligation to Dobbs might be justified by the emotion, but not by the reality, which is that the availability of reversible forms of birth control has not changed and is not changing anytime soon.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

https://news.gallup.com/poll/154799/Americans-Including-Catholics-Say-Birth-Control-Morally.aspx

Sorry, it's 89% who find it morally acceptable, not 80%.

Which means a greater % probably wants it to remain legal.

So it's not going anywhere.

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You think they care about majorities? The entire anti-abortion movement is counter-majoritarian.

https://twitter.com/RepYvetteClarke/status/1550146763943706624

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

That's a gross and deceptive simplification.

A strong majority of people support a first trimester abortion bans with the normal exceptions.

IIRC, the 50/50 tipping point was ~20 weeks ban.

So California and NY are just as 'anti-majoritarian' as Alabama or Texas are, just in the opposite direction.

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The anti-abortion movement does not support abortion ever, except potentially for threat to the mother and sometimes not even then. That's very clearly anti-majoritarian.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

To be fair to them, Matt's whole "we need more humans living at American standards and consumption levels" in the midst of, again, everything being on fire right now precisely because too many existing and previous Americans have done just that is a bad look. Low population levels at high levels of consumption seems like a pretty solid equilibrium although Matt is against it because of weird intuitions I don't understand (https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21449512/matt-yglesias-one-billion-americans) ("But I think a universe of seven really happy people all being treated really fairly, is worse than a thriving planet of 7 billion, even if some of those 7 billion people are living in worse conditions than what existed in the seven.") . High population levels at high levels of consumption is already, right now, manifestly unworkable.

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It makes perfect sense to me. Despite my life not being perfect, or plausibly even among the best 7 in the world, I still find it filled with joy.

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You are just wrong. What is unworkable is the amount of carbon we are producing.

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What about a world with 7 billion where 1 billion are living happy, fulfilling lives at the expense of another 1 billion's misery?

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Has there ever been a time in human history after the creation of civilization (e.g. cities) when some version of this was not true? Literacy, health factors, and lifespans are much longer now than previously.

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I mean, having kids seems terrible from my POV. The child-free adults I know seem a lot happier. I am really looking forward to my wife and I being DINKS

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founding

If this is your view, then I think you are making the right choice.

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Jul 21, 2022·edited Jul 21, 2022

Several posters have been dismissing people's fears as hyperbolic. The Republican party tried to violently over-turn the last election. Their VP refused to get in a car with the Secret Service, which then seems to have destroyed evidence of its activity. Their Justices all said Roe was settled law, before over-turning it. They have continued to undermine American elections.

This is against a context of multiple existing dystopian elements to American society, such as the incarceration and police fatality rates of a dictatorship.

I'm not suggesting tubal ligation is a rational response to Roe being over-turned, but dismissing fears appears highly inappropriate. The "calm down it'll be fine" crowd's track record has been very poor to date.

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Trump tried to steal the last election equals the GOP is going to ban birth control? If you said there could be politically-triggered violence following upcoming elections, that seems reasonable. But "therefore the GOP is going to ban birth control", is not reasonable. 80-90% of Americans support birth control, there's probably not a single state where ban birth control is the majority opinion.

You can't complain about people saying "calm down" when you're trying to whip up fears by throwing random sequiturs about incarceration into the abortion discussion. Most of the countries of the western hemisphere have higher murder and police shooting rates than the US does - does that mean everyone in all of those countries should lose their mind and stop thinking rationally?

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195 republicans voted against a bill protecting access to contraception today.

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And this will lead to highly unpopular contraception bans how? Do you want to make a bet that IUDs will be banned in any blue or purple state anytime soon? I'm not close enough to the issue to know if it's possible in a red state, but if it does, I'd bet it leads to some serious pushback against the GOP.

In any case, "calm down it will be fine" is putting words in the mouth of posters who are pushing back against hyperbolic arguments here, and, I'd add straw-manning. There's no "crowd". There's only people saying that some of these specific fears are highly unrealistic.

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That is so freaking bleak. I continue to find it hard to believe Republicans will avoid an electoral price for Dobbs. Maybe it will take a while. But enforced pregnancy and having care withheld while you're having a miscarriage are such profound nightmares that the victims and their friends and family will remember them for a long time, and it won't just be liberals who suffer.

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Seems to me like everything will be at the state level. When I look at the map of abortion laws: ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#/media/File:Abortion_Laws.svg ) most US states are still less restrictive than most of Europe and the developed world, although there are some outliers.

States like Wisconsin are probably out of step with their voters and might pay a price. But if Kansas only shortens it's gestational limit to be closer to what is typical in Europe, they probably won't. Every state is going to follow a different path.

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founding

I think people who describe post-Dobbs US abortion laws as being like Iran rather than France are incorrect.

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In the long run, sure, but it’s going to be a bloody mess getting there, mediated by various people paying electoral prices for stupid things.

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Does Iran have very restrictive abortion laws ? Serious question.

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The wikipedia map I linked to says: "Prohibited with exceptions for maternal life, maternal health*, rape, and fetal defects"

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That’s pretty bad. I’d note that the current law in some

US states is significantly worse.

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These comparisons to abortion laws in Europe are AIUI very misleading, with wide latitudes being given to things like 'the mental health of the mother' or other explanations that end up de facto allowing vastly more abortions than the headline legislation seems to suggest.

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"Allowing vastly more abortions" or "allowing abortions in vastly more circumstances"? These seem like very different things--seems like in almost all instances, someone who could elect to have an abortion at 20 weeks would prefer to have it at 10 weeks, if they can.

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It's important to consider that in basically all other developed countries there is public healthcare, including for abortions, which makes earlier abortions much easier to access. This means that the likelihood of *needing* a late a bortion is far lesser in Europe than in US. Of course most of the "pro life" people wouldn't dream of reforming the healthcare in the US to actually save countless lives of Americans, and not just fetuses btw.

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Yeah, you're right, that's poorly worded. I mean in a lot more circumstances.

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Really? I believe that could be the case, but the chart has colors for what you're describing and they seem to be making an attempt to account for actual implementation, a al the footnote: "This map shows their combined effect as implemented by the authorities."

I don't have any other knowledge of abortion in Europe, though, so maybe you're right. That said, a google search tells me that the rate of abortions per pregnancy is very similar in the US, France and Germany, at about 15% or so.

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The map is pretty misleading. The accompanying table with footnotes is better. Still, the written law only tells you so much. Are there in fact cases in western European countries that in practice a woman seeks abortion and cant get it? if so how often and where? my sense is that will rarely happen.

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