Rich cities, poor cities / by kevin murray

Why is there such a huge disparity of wealth from city to city in America?  Additionally, what makes one city rich and another city relatively poor, or what makes one city more desirable than another.  While it's difficult to come up with a completely satisfactory list of all items that differentiate between a rich city and a poor city, the following items would seem to be of prime importance overall:

1.       Crime rate per capita

2.       Arts and cultural events

3.       Physicians/hospitals per capita

4.       Climate

5.       Natural resources and beauty

6.       Water

7.       Higher Education

8.       Government subsidies

9.       Transportation

10.   History

While traveling around virtually any major city you will typically see areas of modernity, high-worth, impressive architecture and on the opposite tack you will come upon dilapidated buildings, impoverishment, and lack.  That's just within one city.  However, when traveling from city to city and from state to state, you can't help but notice that some cities are much richer than others.  The poor regions often have prominent tell-tale signs such as roads in need of repair, abandoned buildings, infrastructure shortfalls, weather-beaten housing and the like. 

Is it possible that some cities have more income/monies coming in and therefore are able to upgrade and advance, whereas other cities have not enough income to maintain services and their population and consequently are in a downward spiral?  I do believe so.

First off, taxes are not evenly distribution throughout cities, counties, states, and through our federal government.  That is to say, taxes are taken away from certain communities and not replaced at a 1:1 level, so that in certain cities, millions upon millions of dollars leave those communities every year and something considerably less than that finds its way back.  That obviously makes certain cities poorer and other cities richer.

Another factor that influences the makeup of a city is the employment of its residents.  In general, the fewer people employed, the less income; although the makeup of the jobs and their consummate salaries plays a very significant part in overall size of the income pie in a particular city.  But a city in which there is high unemployment without residual income from retirement or pension accounts is a city in decline.  Additionally, there is a direct correlation that those with Bachelor's Degree or higher make considerably more money than those that do not have Advanced Educational Degrees.    In fact, that is an important reason why some cities have gone from rich to poor, because the middle-class jobs that employed their predominantly blue-collar cities has declined precipitously over the last twenty years. 

Finally, people vote with their feet.  When the opportunities are few and far between for employment in your particular community, you will seriously consider looking for work and employment opportunities elsewhere.   The most motivated people will leave first, leaving behind those that are less able, older, and those set in their ways. 

While cities in decline can turn it around, to do so, takes vision, determination, and carefully planned long-term decision making.