Columbia, South Carolina as Microcosm of the Nation

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The NYT reports:

This city in the center of South Carolina is an ideal listening post. According to a range of indicators assembled by Moody’s Economy.com : from job growth to change in household worth : this metropolitan area came closer than any other to being a microcosm of the nation over the last decade.

This is now an unfortunate distinction. Some 533,000 jobs disappeared from the economy in November, the worst month since 1974. In South Carolina, a government panel is predicting that the state’s unemployment rate could reach 14 percent by the middle of next year.

No speculative real estate bubble can explain what is happening in this metropolitan area of roughly 700,000 people. Neither the brick Georgian homes in the city’s core nor the ranch-style houses on the suburban fringes rose or fell much in value. The financial wizards of Wall Street seem far from the palmetto-dotted campus of the University of South Carolina and the domed state capitol downtown.

Yet as the toll continues to mount from an era of financial recklessness : as banks cut credit from households and businesses, reinforcing austerity : the damage has spread here, choking economic activity at places ranging from shopping malls to factories. …

The article alludes to the fact that Columbia is a Democratic city, but does not note that after accounting for small but growing Asian and Latino populations, the population of my hometown is about half African American, half white. We have our problems, I’d never suggest otherwise, but in so many respects it is a wonderful, productive, friendly community, the charms of which sadly escape far too many of the bigoted and racist Supposedly Liberal Doods. Not linking because I’m not in the blogwar business, but if you read political blogs you’ve undoubtedly seen numerous nasty, insulting, condescending posts and comments about the South. Yo, y’all, we are just like you, even the NYT has figured this out.

–Ann Bartow

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