The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Monday, October 03, 2005

Capital of the World

An aside in Joel Kotkin's recent article, America Still Beckons:
New York City, the traditional center of European immigration, provides an excellent case in point. An analysis of recent census numbers indicates that white immigrants to New York (the vast majority of whom are from Europe) represent the largest number of contributors to the net growth of educated young people in the city. Without the disproportionate contributions of these young Europeans, New York would actually have suffered a net outflow of educated people under 35 during the late 1990s. Overall, there are now half a million New York City residents who were born in Europe.
[Emphasis mine.] One pillar of the conventional wisdom is that the big "blue" cities are a magnet for America's best and brightest. Indeed, many Democratic-leaning commenters have not been shy in claiming a causal connection between the observed liberalism and the assumed educational superiority of such cities. For an example, we of course look to Matthew Yglesias, who can always be relied upon for partisan rationalization. Here is one example:
Beyond simple regional pride -- go Northeast! -- there's a serious point here. Virtually all of the globally competetive [sic] sectors of the American economy, film, television, music and other media, software, financial and legal services, etc. are concentrated in Blue America. The Reddish portions of the country are living off federal subsidies, tarrif [sic] barriers, and military spending.
[This use of the word "serious", by the way, is a repeated rhetorical tic of Mr. Yglesias's, signifying that he has noticed something agreeable to him.] One of Mr. Yglesias's commenters repeats this conventional wisdom more bluntly:
The votes of the best educated, most financially successful, most culturally sophisticated people in the country don't count, so the politicians just don't talk to them.
How is this belief, which seems important to the self-image of blue-state liberals, to be reconciled with New York as an exporter of young talent, rather than a magnet?

[A related post by Michael Lind, here.]