David Brooks writes:
OCT. 13, 2014
Everybody knows that Silicon Valley has become an economic powerhouse over the past quarter-century, but Houston’s boom is less appreciated. Joel Kotkin of Chapman University points out that over the past decade, Houston has outperformed every major metropolitan area in income growth, population growth and migration. Since 2000, the city’s employment figures have risen by 32 percent, ranking it No. 1 in percentage job growth. In August, Houston issued more single-family housing permits than all of California.
The Bay Area and Houston share a strategic asset: engineers. The two regions rank first and second in the country in engineers per capita. Beyond that, they are thriving on the basis of very different growth models.
Obviously, the Bay Area is driven by technology. Houston’s growth is driven by energy. More than 5,000 energy-related companies are located there. The Bay Area is a tightly regulated city. Houston has no formal zoning code, though, as the city gets more affluent, more rules are being written. The Bay Area is beautiful in the way urbanists like, while Houston is mostly ugly, in the way fast-food chains like. The Bay Area is densely populated and great for walking
Great for hiking, walking? A lot of the Bay Area is suburban sprawl, because that’s what engineers like (whereas employees of media companies like Facebook prefer urbanism), and the most urban parts of San Francisco are often insanely steep.
, while Houston is sprawling, though much of the development over the past few years has been high-density hipster infill.
The Bay Area is the hands-down winner when it comes to creativity and charm. But it’s a luxury region, unaffordable and wildly unequal. Houston wins when it comes to livability, especially for people who want to have children.
Kotkin, who has become an evangelist for the Houston model, points out that Houston is possibly the most ethnically diverse city in America. It’s more egalitarian than San Francisco. African-Americans and Hispanics there have high home ownership rates. Houstonians also enjoy a pretty high standard of living. If you take annual earnings per job and adjust it for the local cost of living, then Houston ranks top among major cities.
Over the past few years, liberals and conservatives have been arguing over which growth model is best. But, of course, there’s no need to choose. Both models are more or less working.
In some places, like the Bay Area and Houston. Other places, not so much.
… In addition, as society gets more educated, it segments further. Educated people are more polarized politically than less educated people. …
One result of the election is already clear. Political representation will more closely resemble the underlying social segmentation. Right now there are a lot of red states with Democratic senators. After this election, there will be fewer — probably between four and nine fewer. The election is about sorting people more tightly into their pre-existing boxes. …
People in San Francisco and Houston are achieving success while pursuing different economic models. It probably doesn’t make much sense to govern them intrusively from Washington as if they were engaged in the same project.
A lot of good sense here from Kotkin and Brooks, if I do say so myself.
But here’s the big question for Republicans: what’s the long term game plan? What we see in Texas is that light regulation and an energy boom attracts nonwhite immigrants, whose children will vote Democratic for racialist reasons. (In contrast, leftist Vermont imports African refugees for the usual leftist lunatic reasons, but basically has such a regulated economy that it stays highly white.)
How exactly is the Houston model going to keep the Democrats from getting a lock on the White House, just the way my old lesbian classmate at Rice U., Annise Parker, who is now in her third term as the Democratic mayor of Houston, has a lock on the mayor’s office?
There’s a possibility that there’s enough white solidarity in Texas (white Texans voted 76-24 for Romney in 2012) for the Republican Party to stay afloat there, but how is the Republican Party going to win Electoral Votes elsewhere?
Besides immigration, the other existential issue for the survival of a two party system in America is somehow defeating the Culture War against Straight White Men. Why in the world would the children of immigrants join the Republican Party, when it’s notoriously the home of the most despised subhumans in America?
But most Republican higher-ups barely recognize that this war is being waged, much less that they are losing badly.