Are States an Anachronism?

One of my favorite sites is New Geography (e.g., Joel Kotkin, Richard Florida type of stuff.) In a recent piece, Aaron M. Renn asks “Are States an Anachronism?“:

Obviously states aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but a number of folks have suggested that state’s aren’t just obsolete, they are downright pernicious in their effects on local economies.

One principal exponent of this point of view is Richard Longworth, who has written about it extensively in his book “Caught in the Middle” and elsewhere…

Renn’s piece touches upon dynamics of what I call the ‘Silent Secession’ that is taking place in America (i.e., intensifying white flight, which is leading to a greater county-by-county racial polarization and, over time, greater economic disparity between such counties.)

You have to overlook some of Renn’s howlers, like this:

States can’t to much to help, but they can do a lot to hurt. A lot of the national debate seems to center on whether the “red state” or “blue state” model makes the most sense. But to a great extent, policy almost doesn’t matter. In Ohio, with one set of state policies, Columbus thrives while Cleveland struggles. Tennessee is a right to work state with no income tax, but Nashville booms while Memphis stagnates. Texas is doing great with its red state model, but Mississippi and Alabama not so much. And even within Texas, there are plenty of places that are hurting badly.

“Policy almost doesn’t matter”… but race certainly does.

Columbus is 60% white, while Cleveland is only 35% white.

Nashville is 56% white, while Memphis is only 27% white.


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