Science Agenda: In Fairness to Cities; September 2011; Scientific American Magazine; by The Editors; 1 Page(s)
Not long ago New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., were poster children for urban decay. But these cities came roaring back: they tapped deep wells of experience in finance, communications and technology to flourish in a globalized world. They illustrate perfectly the power and resilience of the city as brain trust. Although they have their problems, urban areas continue to lure new residents because of the economic, health and educational benefits that accrue from face-to-face social networking. But if cities are so beneficial, then why are U.S. policies stacked against them?
In matters of housing, education, transportation, the environment and social services, existing rules and spending priorities give cities a raw deal. Cheap gas, highway subsides, tax incentives for home ownership, complacency over urban education and the apportionment of legislators all give preferential treatment to suburbs and rural areas. Even national leaders who should be cheerleaders for an evenhanded urban policy have faltered. Barack Obama, the most urban president since Theodore Roosevelt, skewed the stimulus bill toward more dollars for rural America. The five least populated states got twice as much money per capita as the rest.