The end of “Moving to Opportunity?”

The New York Times and its Upshot series is back at it again, this time with a piece about how cities are no longer places for low-skilled people to seek opportunity.

There is much discussion about those left behind as cities continue to become more affluent and cosmopolitan.  And it’s absolutely true that the cost of living is so high in San Francisco, New York, Washington, Boston, and a few other places that it’s simply not possible to live decently, let alone raise a family, on a middle class salary. The middle and working classes are getting priced out of more and more neighborhoods. There are myriad reasons for the continued price increases, and byzantine local politics and regulatory red tape are certainly at least partially responsible for that increase, as more libertarian-leaning pundits are quick to point out about these liberal, overwhelmingly Democratic cities.

But the fact remains that these cities continue to suck up a hugely disproportionate share of our nation’s elite, ruling class.  As the Wall Street Journal showed last spring with this astonishing interactive map, graduates of America’s most elite, competitive universities are tending to settle only in Boston, New York, Washington, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles, with some sprinkles in Seattle, Austin, and a few other “honorable mentions.”  While we’re lucky as a nation to have multiple global talent magnets; however the concentration of the elite in such few places has been terrible for America.

First, this concentrated affluence creates a self-referential bubble that is ignorant of, or even contemptuous of, the rest of the country. It’s become a cliche for liberals to argue that other liberals don’t know anything about “The Heartland” or Trump voters.  But there is more than a grain of truth to this. Evangelical Christianity, country music, rural and small-town living, and stock car racing are just a few of the cultural hallmarks of a huge swath of America whose way is regarded as, at best, merely provincial. But when economic globalization combined with ever-increasing wealth inequality and elite concentration combines with the uniquely American ability of a large, mostly non-urban plurality of the population to control national politics and policy, you get a toxic brew, and voila, Trump.

Next, the industries that have come to dominate these regions are not the ones that helped build and sustain a broad and prosperous middle class.  The elites have little to offer the rest of the country relative to economic prosperity. Government and the military industrial complex notwithstanding, academia, banking and finance, fashion,  media, high technology and the arts and entertainment are not the sorts of job engines that put millions of Americans to work and help them afford decent housing.  And the most elite graduates of our nation’s universities – the ones who used to go and start or manage companies that made things and employed people – are now going into the far more lucrative world of finance and venture capital and startups. The elite metros are rapidly destroying their middle class, and what remains is a bifurcated haves/have-nots that is anathema to broad-based prosperity.  Low skill employment is increasingly only available in low-wage service jobs, from cleaning hotel rooms to making poke bowls for marketing managers and tech bros.

To some the answer is to raise the minimum wage to $15 or even higher.  But one has to acknowledge that increasing the minimum wage may be a Pyrrhic victory for progressives as it will accelerate the automation of many, if not all of the service jobs. Others like entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang have called for a Universal Basic Income whereby the government just gives everyone some cash. My vast oversimplification of the UBI concept is twofold – that the disappearance of middle and low-wage service jobs to automation is inevitable, and that a simple disbursement of money rather than indirect spending through social programs, vouchers, and other initiatives is more effective in helping people afford the basics like housing. To me the UBI concept may be a valid one, and their points about its effectiveness could very well be true. But the UBI also represents a failure of imagination and inventiveness.  To me it represents Ned Flanders’ beatnik parents delcaring “…we’ve tried NOTHING, and we’re all out of options.”

Some have called for providing incentives for the low-skilled, low-income population in places like Flint or Youngstown to “move to opportunity,” and maybe there could be opportunities for folks to flock to places like Houston, Oklahoma City, and other cities with lots of middle-class jobs and affordable housing. Providing the right financial incentives, whether direct or indirect subsidies, may be needed in some geographies that have truly lost their economic reason for being, particularly mining and factory towns from Appalachia to the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes regions. Middle class prosperity and economic opportunity are most viable in metropolitan areas – not necessarily huge ones, but urbanized areas with generally more than 250,000 to 500,000 people. From nursing to specialized manufacturing, metro regions from San Antonio to Pittsburgh, and from Jacksonville to Madison, have the most to offer in terms of decent jobs and affordable middle-class lifestyles.

Or, at least they do for now. The problem is that their share of the national wealth pie keeps shrinking as the Global Talent Magnets keep getting richer. And let’s be clear – the very qualities that have created and perpetuated the wealth and power concentration in places like New York and San Francisco make it physically impossible to attract and house more middle- and working-class people from elsewhere in the country. There are no living-wage jobs waiting for the masses of people without bachelors degrees in the Apples and Googles of Silicon Valley, or the Booz Allens and Lockheed Martins in Tysons Corner, or the J.P. Morgans and Goldman Sachs’ in Manhattan, let alone the Harvards and Brigham and Womens’ in Boston. Nor is there an oversupply of three-bedroom apartments (let alone single houses) in nice neighborhoods within reasonable commuting distance of said non-existent middle-class job suitable for raising children free of financial hardship. In other words, there can be no mass migration to those metro areas that have achieved a critical mass of global talent.

The problem is that, as the global metros keep hoovering up wealth and talent, the secondary and tertiary metros continue to lose their economic relevance. And, to poorly paraphrase J.D. Vance, it’s much easier to get a family from Jackson, Kentucky to move to Middletown, Ohio (near Cincinnati) than to San Francisco. But Cincinnati and its ilk don’t stand a chance to perpetually create sufficient wealth and prosperity if the best and brightest have little interest in sticking around, let alone moving there from elsewhere.

 

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“Cities” vs. “Suburbs”

Comparing “cities” and “suburbs” by virtue of political boundaries is something many economists, think tanks, and advocates do regularly.  But it’s a meaningless and downright invalid exercise because political boundaries do not capture the physical development patterns and associated lifestyle differences between areas that are actually “urban” and “suburban” in character.  Let’s explore this using Google StreetView.

Many of the largest municipalities in the country are almost entirely suburban in character, outside of the historic central business district.  Here’s a commercial area in Houston:

Raleigh:

If we’re being honest, most commercial areas in most of the fastest-growing municipalities in the country look a lot like these – strip shopping, seas of off-street parking, and virtually no amenity for pedestrians.  Transit service to low-density hubs like this is something most people would avoid lest they have to actually cross one of these roads or parking lots on foot.  We should draw no conclusions about Americans’ preferences for “cities” or “urban areas” vs. “suburbs” based on municipal boundaries.

At the other end of the spectrum, consider these “suburbs:”

Somerville, MA (near Boston):

Westfield, NJ

Many suburbs sometimes look like this, which is totally different than what we we’re talking about when we talk about “suburbs” generally in relation to “cities.”

Amazon HQ2: It’s Northern Virginia! (and New York?!)

Here’s what I wrote months ago about Amazon’s high-stakes game show for selecting their second headquarters, after the 200+ cities that put in bids were narrowed down to 20:

  1.  Washington/Northern Virginia/Montgomery County, MD.  I’m not happy about it but I’m coming around to the idea that Jeff Bezos really likes DC and is looking for ways to transition his operation there.  He seems to like being closer to the center of political power, and already owns the Washington Post and a house in the most exclusive neighborhood in the city.  If you ask me, I’d say the real decision taking place in Amazon’s inner sanctum right now is whether to locate in DC, MD, or VA, rather than between this region and anywhere else.  If you can afford it, the DC region offers everything for the elite tech company – urban amenities, prestigious universities, international air service, and so on.  Whether the region can successfully accommodate Amazon is another story.

Here’s to good, old fashioned rent seeking. Amazon is rich and powerful enough that things that matter to other businesses – like costs, congestion, housing prices – don’t matter all that much.  Rather, Amazon stands to benefit from the countless federal dollars of lucrative contracts with agencies across the government.  Federal contracting, defense or not, is big business and  supports some pretty huge corporations like Lockheed Martin, SAIC, and BoozAllenHamilton.  Now add Amazon to their ranks.

I admit I didn’t see New York coming as a serious contender.  Too expensive, too congested, too many special interests demanding tribute, quotas, and such.  But apparently having the financiers, media companies, and ad firms close at hand is a big plus for Amazon.  They’ve chosen to be close to the money, power, and glory.

Several sources had indicated Dallas was a top contender too. I saw Dallas, as well as Atlanta, as serious contenders not just as a site selection exercise, but as a politically strategic move.  Given the current antipathy toward big tech firms, there would have been considerable benefits to having two (R) senators in Amazon’s corner.  After choosing the DC and New York areas, two of the most global and cosmopolitan cities in the country, I expect the conservative, rural, and/or “middle-American” antipathy toward the tech industry to only grow stronger, much as has already occurred with the media and entertainment industries.

Urbanism at the margins

Here in the United States, we’ve determined, as a matter of public policy, that suburban living is a baseline living standard, akin to indoor plumbing or having a washer and dryer.  With very few exceptions, particularly outside of New York City and its nearby satellites, we’ve relegated real urbanism to the margins.

First, the notion of obsolescence.  We think main streets, whether in small towns, suburbs, or big city downtowns, are obsolete places for modern everyday commerce.  Mostly because they’re lacking in free off-street parking and because the retail spaces are often too small to accommodate modern chain stores.  So we’ve either abandoned them wholesale, or we’ve determined that they’re quaint and historic and must be preserved in formaldehyde, forever unchanging.  At best these places survive as boutiques, or as ‘edgy’ places free from meeting the needs of everyday life, no matter how many craft breweries or cross-fit gyms there are.

And second, the notion that certain urban lifestyle choices that our international counterparts would embrace without second thought are, at least here, only suitable for certain niche groups:

  • Public transportation: only for the poor, the disabled, and seniors who can’t drive themselves.
  • Renting apartments: only for the poor, seniors, college students, and the young and childless.
  • Condominium buildings: Only for seniors and the young and childless, and in certain places, tourists.
  • Walking or riding bikes for everyday transportation: Only for the poor, children, and college students, and in some places, tourists.

None of these things are considered suitable for everyday life, particularly for raising families, here in America.  The reasons are many, and I hope to gradually tackle them.  Stay tuned.

The Myth of Big vs Small Government

Twenty years ago, during those halcyon days of Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings and an associated national polarization and malaise really not all that dissimilar from the one that plagues the country today, the Left and Right used to argue about the role of government.  As in, Republicans would have a natural and deep skepticism toward any regulation or mandate as “big government,” and the insinuated waste, fraud, abuse, and downright incompetence that would surely be an inevitable accompaniment to any such initiative, such Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated attempt to push for universal healthcare.  In the ensuring decades, between switching back and forth between the two parties, having a divided government, and the population of the country sorting itself along ethnic, ideological, economic, and geographic lines, the two parties have all but given up trying to make a broad case to everyone that their ideas are better and will help more people.

Rather, both Democrats and Republicans have each crystallized their respective big tent coalitions.  And each set of coalitions that comprise each party have come to believe that those on the other side are not just misguided and ignorant but dangerous to the future of the country and undeserving of any of the public benefits afforded by society at large (namely, the government).  Each side believes that its respective coalition is far larger and more important than the other, and that through a truly legitimate democratic process, their side will always prevail in a landslide.  Hence, you see stuff happening around issues as basic as voting in elections, wherein Republicans and conservatives believe that maximizing the legitimacy of the electoral process entails preventing criminals and illegal aliens from casting ballots fraudulently, while Democrats see a massive effort to suppress the vote of minorities and the poor who lack the resources to even transport themselves to a local or state government office to obtain a photo ID.

As the coalitions have become crystallized and no one is trying to change anyone else’s mind anymore, the two parties have accordingly amassed the support of very different sectors of the economy that, while hardly surprising, are now fairly well set.  Each party is essentially comprised of its respective economic coalition, and actively seeks to benefit that coalition with the spoils of government, from rules and regulations (or the removal thereof), tax schemes, direct subsidies, lucrative government contracts, legal requirements and prohibitions, and so on.   The argument is no longer a matter of government vs. no government, or even big government vs. small government, but rather government in service of what ends?  Whether intentional or not, each side believes that its coalition comprises the true, deserving economic heart of America, and that the other is misguided, harmful, even downright evil.

Many libertarians and people on the political fringes complain that Democrats and Republicans are the same.  Partisans on both sides dismiss this lament routinely and argue that, of course they’re different, see, e.g., guns, abortion, and so on.  And while people rightly have strong feelings on these issues, these ongoing and perpetual culture wars punch far above their weight relative to their economic importance in the daily lives of most Americans (obviously that’s not true if you’re a shooting victim, or facing an unplanned pregnancy, or being bullied, harassed, or discriminated against because of who you are).  I’m not arguing that the social and cultural differences are unimportant, but rather that they help mask a far more insidious feature of our political system, one in which Democrats and Republicans are very similar.  Both parties operate in service to “the elite.”  Whatever other names we give them – the rich, the 1%, the affluent, Ivy League grads, they’re both doing this.  Except they’re just servicing different factions of the elite that are perpetually at war with one another over who will rule America and shape its future.  We’ve long assumed that this sort of thing was solely the purview of Republicans and conservatives, but it’s not.  Democrats do it too, just for a different set of people and industries.

Here, in brief, is my list of favored industries on both sides of the isle.  The Republican side is, I think, the more obvious one and in line with some conventional wisdom, while the Democratic side is a bit more recent in its coalescence.

Republicans:

Extraction/fossil fuel energy – oil and gas, mining, refining, pipelines and distribution, coal.

Healthcare (part).  Big pharma, insurance, physicians groups, and big hospitals have a strong financial incentive to maintain private healthcare just as it is.

Defense industry.  Part of government contracting, building weapons, materiel, airplanes, ships, and so on.  Strong financial incentive to wage war.

Manufacturing.  Includes automobiles.

Agriculture.

FIRE – part.  Retail banking strongly favors Republicans who oppose rules to protect the poor from predatory lending.  Investment banking is more agnostic, being involved across all industries.  Real estate industry is mostly Republican, favoring limited regulations on development.  Exception is big-city downtown developers, who are cronies with Democratic politicians and trade unions needed to build all the skyscrapers going up in these places.

honorable mentions – direct sales/network marketing, for profit higher ed, private prisons, auto dealers.

Democrats:

Government (part).  Non-defense servants mostly, especially public employee unions at all levels of government.

Higher education (except for-profit).  Colleges and universities.

Media and entertainment – film, television, internet, radio (with major exceptions of Clear Channel, NewsCorp, and Sinclair, whose outlets are all distinctly conservative)

Tech industry – Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Twitter, etc.

FIRE (part) – Part of I-banking, venture capital, and hedge fund sector, especially related to the tech industry

Honorable mentions – clean energy, electric cars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raise the Gas Tax, Already!

Per Jalopnik, Ford is considering abandoning its small and midsize car lines.  The Fiesta, Focus, and Fusion are all under consideration.  That Ford is thinking about such a move is emblematic of trends in the car business in the United States.  Americans just aren’t buying the sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, wagons, and other “cars” in large numbers anymore, and the trend has accelerated.  Rather, we’ve flocked to so-called “light trucks” which is a catch-all term that includes everything from full-sized pickup trucks, to small SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, and everything in between.  These light trucks now account for two of every three vehicles sold in the U.S.

Why are Americans buying trucks and SUVs instead of cars?  The image and connotations of the SUV are so univeral that they appeal to pretty much everyone nowadays, from the higher ride height and associated better view of the road, to the all-wheel-drive systems that provide piece of mind in inclement weather, as well as the associations with ruggedness and capability, even for owners who use their vehicles solely to commute, shop, or ferry kids to soccer practice.  SUVs in particular are, arguably, really the successor to the minivans of the 1990s, which were, in turn, the successors to the giant station wagons (think “Country Squire” and “Roadmaster Estate”) that graced suburban driveways in the 1970s and 80s.  Granted, these vehicles are also more expensive than “conventional” cars, so how is it than everyone seems to be able to afford them?  Part of the reason is the increasingly unsustainable financing that car dealers are offering to consumers in order to maintain sales figures.  But I would argue that, more than any other factor, gasoline is just too cheap.

“Cheap” is relative.  Gas can be cheaper or more expensive in different parts of the country.  But it’s almost universally less expensive to fill up here in the U.S. than in other industrialized countries.  For the sake of comparison, a gallon of regular gas costs about $2.60 per gallon in Ft. Collins, Colorado, a mid-sized boomtown in the Mountain West.  Up in Canada, in booming Calgary, regular gas costs the equivalent of $3.90 per gallon.  In Manchester, England, it’s more than $6 per gallon, and in continental Europe, one gallon is often more than $7 per gallon.  Japan sees prices between $4 and $5; South Korea typically sees prices in the $5 to $6 range. Why is gas so expensive in these other parts of the world?  Taxes.

When the price of a barrel of oil skyrocketed a decade ago, the price of gasoline went up all around the world, including here in the U.S.  Consumers routinely paid more than $4 a gallon to fill up, and it hit the typical American household fairly hard.  Suddenly, it made less sense to drive a gas guzzling truck, and Americans switched to smaller vehicles. The domestic auto manufacturers were caught flat-footed by the gas price spike, and struggled to catch up and introduce smaller cars to their lineups.  Ford had a built-in advantage in having a robust European division with a strong market for compact and subcompact cars, which they could simply bring over to the U.S.  Enter the Fiesta and the Focus.  For a time it seemed that Americans were adapting to the new reality of expensive gas; but when oil prices collapsed in world markets, the price of gasoline went down, to less than $2 per gallon in many parts of the country.   Americans resumed buying up larger and thirstier vehicles.  They also resumed their march toward more dispersed building patterns, away from walkable and transit-accessible urban areas.  Gas was cheap, then expensive, then cheap once more.

But in other parts of the world with high fuel taxes, when oil prices caused gasoline prices to shoot up, typical consumers only saw their costs increase at the margins.  People in Europe, Japan, and South Korea had long factored expensive gas into the way they live, and the continued to do so even after the price of fuel fell, because it remained expensive, albeit a bit less so.  For decades, people in these countries have driven cars, but they drive less.  They buy smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.  They choose to live closer to where they work, and to design their cities and towns so that they don’t have to drive miles to get everywhere, and demand adequate infrastructure for walking and mass transit.

If this sounds a lot like the goals of modern American urbanism – designing for non-automotive mobility – that’s because they are pretty much one and the same.  But American progressives seem to be confused about how to achieve urban areas that are less automobile-dependent and contribute less to global carbon emissions.  Instead, there’s been a focus on a number of misguided policy prescriptions that are full of carrots, but no sticks, particularly with regard to cars.  Minimum fuel economy requirements only serve to force manufacturers to produce products that consumers don’t want to buy.  As common as the Toyota Prius may be in Washington, DC, Park Slope, Cambridge, Berkeley, and other progressive enclaves, hybrids account for a tiny and stagnant fraction of total vehicle sales.  In fact, due to the popularity of pickups and large SUVs, the manufacturers have been pushing the current administration to relax the fuel economy guidelines, knowing that they’ll be unable to meet them while consumers keep gobbling up large vehicles.  The manufacturers make a lot of money on the sale of trucks and SUVs and have no incentive to change.  Meanwhile, even if the fleetwide fuel economy goes up, that would allow consumers to drive even farther for the same price, and encourage more dispersed and auto-dependent sprawl.

Many conservatives oppose increasing fuel taxes for obvious reasons – they dislike taxation, live in far-flung exurbs and rural areas necessitating routine long-distance driving, and find sacrosanct a lifestyle that assumes affordable fuel for big pickup trucks, boats, ATVs, riding mowers, and other accessories of their ilk.  But progressives also tend to oppose raising fuel taxes because they believe they are regressive.  Most people depend on their cars to get pretty much everywhere – why should they be punished?  Better to punish the corporations!   But in reality, while the demand for automobile travel is fairly inelastic, elasticity in other markets will be affected, and have already demonstrated that they are.  The market for far-flung sprawl houses would suffer if consumers had to pay significantly more to live 30 miles from work than, say, 8 miles.  At a certain price point, the increased cost of fuel would outweigh in savings in housing costs.  The market for large trucks and SUVs would also suffer.  It’s no wonder the United States is the only significant consumer market for the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.  There is quite a bit of wiggle room for consumers to switch from a large vehicle to a smaller one.  Switching from a large SUV that gets 15 mpg to a smaller SUV that can get 30 mpg, or even a sedan that can get 33 mpg means that fuel costs are cut in half.  It would do a lot to mitigate even a 100% increase in the price of fuel.

Getting back to the folks at Ford Motor Company, if they go through with their plans to get out of the business of making small and mid-sized cars, they’ll be in big trouble when the price oil surges on the world stage.  Consumers abandoning their large trucks and SUVs won’t find any product to buy, and they’ll instead turn to Honda, Toyota, and other foreign brands that have capitalized on the market for smaller vehicles.  It might be more profitable for Ford to focus exclusively on trucks and SUVs, but it’d pretty short-sighted.

If and when fuel prices rise – and it’s inevitable that they will, whether due to wars, environmental catastrophe, or even something as unpredictable as a hurricane slamming into the Texas coast and crippling a huge proportion of the nation’s petrochemical infrastructure – consumers will respond as they always have.  They’ll still drive, but they’ll drive shorter distances.  They’ll still buy cars, but they’ll buy more fuel efficient models.  They’ll still buy or rent homes, but they’ll do so in places closer to work, and they’ll demand better non-automotive infrastructure.  Raising the tax on fuel will create a market for different products, and companies will respond to that demand.  Forcing companies to sell products consumers don’t want isn’t good for consumers or companies.

 

 

Time to Stop Comparing “Cities”

The way we measure and compare cities to each other are often misleading, and even totally invalid. Ranking the largest “cities” in the country has little to do with actual economic and social trends.  Technically, the city of Jacksonville has twice the population of the city of Miami.  But Jacksonville is functionally a fraction of Miami’s size as a metro area and urbanized region.  Jacksonville is as big as it is because it merged with surrounding Duval County.  Which means that Jacksonville covers hundreds of square miles and has about 900,000 residents.  For an apples-to-apples comparison, if Miami-proper merged with Miami-Dade County, it would have more than 2.5 million people.

Metro area governance structures are wildly different depending on the state and region of the country.  Most of the “big cities” the Northeast and Great Lakes are geographically hemmed in by adjacent municipalities – cities, towns, townships, boroughs, etc., that comprise suburbs, satellite towns, and other urbanized parts of their metro areas.  Most of these metro areas have dozens, even hundreds of local governments.  In the southern New England States in particular (the urbanized ones – MA, CT, RI), every last speck of land in each state is part of an incorporated municipality, no matter how rural or how urban.  Therefore, even the most major city, Boston, has less than 700,000 residents, even though it’s the center of a very large urbanized area, MSA, and CSA.

It’s also easy to get confused about built form and land use.  “Suburbs” of Boston like Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville have far more of an urban built form than even the most central neighborhoods of, say, Charlotte or Raleigh.  To generalize about lifestyle preferences across all suburbs, or “core cities,” is therefore an invalid exercise.

In the South and West, cities tend to exist among tracts of unincorporated land.  Some states make it relatively simple for cities to annex these tracts into their corporate limits.  Houston, Oklahoma City, and Phoenix are each growing in both population and phyiscal size as they continue to annex land.  Many of these large-footprint cities have run up against the same constraints faced by their Northeast and Great Lakes counterparts – adjacent municipalities.  Dallas and Los Angeles are each now surrounded by adjacent municipalities who have resisted annexation and would likely prevent further geographic growth or municipal consolidation.

The results are skewed against cities that have formed the historic core of their regions, yet due to geographic constraints remain small in physical size and population.  At the most extreme, some of these core cities are now smaller than adjacent municipalities.  Norfolk, Virginia has always functioned as the core city of the Hampton Roads region, and yet is dwarfed by neighboring Virginia Beach.  “The Beach” grew to its current size through consolidation with surrounding counties.  Now Virginia Beach is the largest municipality in Virginia.  A similar, if more recent thing happened to Fort Myers, Florida, which has been eclipsed by nearby Cape Coral in size and population, even though Fort Myers is home to the region’s historic core, and Cape Coral lacks a downtown district at all.

A few cities have merged with their surrounding counties in a manner that has allowed them to envelop the majority, if not the entirety, of the urbanized land in their region.  This makes for more efficient planning decisions and provision of government services, everything from roads and sewers to school districts, police, and fire.  Aside from the Jacksonville example described earlier, Nashville, Augusta, Louisville, Lexington, and Indianapolis have all jumped to consolidated city-county government.  Obviously there are limitations to this approach – many county borders do not neatly conform to the outlines of a single city or metro area, and some counties are too small relative to their metro areas to make consolidation result in a dominant metropolitan municipal government.  Perhaps ironically, none of the consolidated city-counties mentioned earlier are known for being particularly progressive.  The ones with metro area populations over one million feature relatively few, if any, “walking around” type neighborhoods, and are generally low-density and automobile-oriented outside of the immediate downtown core.

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