Detroit isn’t a monster — it’s just ahead of the curve. Or it is a monster, in the classical sense of that word: a warning of things to come. We should all be paying attention, but those Americans who should be paying the closest attention are those who are unfortunately least inclined to do so: the happy inhabitants of the gilded communities of Northern California.
I have written a great deal about Detroit as the inevitable endgame of progressive politics and economics, and those who are disinclined to be persuaded by such analysis as I have to offer respond as with one voice: “San Francisco!” The case bears some examination.
Though its charms are wasted on me, San Francisco obviously is enormously appealing to a great many people, as is the Bay Area in its entirety. There are some rough spots, to be sure, but the great swath of territory that runs from San Francisco to San Jose before taking a U-turn up to Berkeley contains a great deal to recommend itself: untold high-tech wealth, a stimulating intellectual climate, world-class educational and cultural institutions, beautiful waterfront properties, and municipal infrastructure that is much better than the American average. As one of my progressive correspondents put it, the high price of San Francisco real estate should communicate to a market-oriented critic such as myself that the city is doing something right. And there is something to that, but there is an important limitation to that analysis. California is a great place to live if you are rich.
And California is not very rich.