Workers and Employers Flee Large Cities

Henry Ford told us in 1922 that cities were becoming obsolete due to the high costs of living and doing business. I would add that cities are worse than useless for their traditional purpose of military defense, and are no longer useful even as centers of commerce.

From Ford’s My Life and Work: “A great city is really a helpless mass. Everything it uses is carried to it. Stop transport and the city stops. It lives off the shelves of stores. The shelves produce nothing. The city cannot feed, clothe, warm, or house itself. City conditions of work and living are so artificial that instincts sometimes rebel against their unnaturalness. And finally, the overhead expense of living or doing business in the great cities is becoming so large as to be unbearable. It places so great a tax upon life that there is no surplus over to live on. The politicians have found it easy to borrow money and they have borrowed to the limit. Within the last decade the expense of running every city in the country has tremendously increased. A good part of that expense is for interest upon money borrowed; the money has gone either into non-productive brick, stone, and mortar, or into necessities of city life, such as water supplies and sewage systems at far above a reasonable cost. The cost of maintaining these works, the cost of keeping in order great masses of people and traffic is greater than the advantages derived from community life. The modern city has been prodigal, it is to-day bankrupt, and to-morrow it will cease to be.”

And now this is happening, perhaps accelerated by the move to remote work compelled by COVID-19, but certainly the right place to go. Employers (and their customers) should not pay to carry $2000 on up studio apartments in places like New York City and especially San Francisco, and the associated taxes and living costs.

New York Post: “A mad rush for the exits as New York City goes down the tubes.”

SF Gate: “Survey: 2 out of 3 tech workers would leave SF permanently if they could work remotely.”

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