Today I turned my rental car around in the parking lot of a shuttered Walmart. Next to the former Walmart was a strip mall of which about 1/3 was occupied. Next to the strip mall was a shuttered Steak and BBQ restaurant. The kind of eerie thing about these abandoned properties was that they were not rundown. This was not a 1960's or even 1970's looking decrepit strip mall. Both the mall and the restaurant are very 1990's looking in architecture and layout. As I drove further down this very typical looking suburban four lane road, I found closed down gas stations, convenience stores, and many restaurants.
I have seen many examples of urban blight in my life and have also seen rural poverty. But this was the first time I had seen (or perhaps noticed is more honest) very middle class suburban blight. This vision of one version of America's future is in my home away from home these last two months, Michigan.
This post is kind of a part 2 from my February post on comparative advantage. I am having a very hard time envisioning a very bright future for Michigan. At least New Bedford, the town in Massachusetts I wrote about in my Feb post, is near the ocean and surrounded by more prosperous regions. Michigan has crappy weather a good half of the year and seemingly nothing very compelling around it either. Those with the skills and education to get new jobs as the manufacturing continues its exodus will largely move to nicer climes. Those left will perpetuate the blight. Their only hope may be global warming.