Krugman points out that the economic success of the South-West (Houston) and South (Atlanta) is caused by providing decent housing to the middle class: “Wrong Way Nation“.
Well, right, and very important. However, the problem is not restricted to the USA. It struck Japan very hard, 25 years ago: there was no more decent housing for Japanese workers in the main production centers.
And, yes, indeed. There is a housing crisis throughout most of the Western World, especially much of Europe. Massive construction programs there after World War Two promoted massive economic growth. A French saying goes:”Quand la construction va, tout va.” (When construction is OK, everything is OK.)
Instead of building increasingly better, denser cities, what happened in the last 40 years was an attitude of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). For example San Francisco built no skyscrapers for 30 years on the ground that they may throw shadows, sometimes (a curious idea in a city characterized by thick fog), or, horror of horrors, that San Francisco would turn into Manhattan.
The practical result has been that, not only quality of life of the middle class has gone down from Paris to San Francisco, but economies have stagnated, while lethal pollution has not been fixed (locally, or globally).
However, thanks to a new born common sense, young people are increasingly refusing the suburban, multi-car, long commute way of life, thus fleeing to live in ridiculous places such as Silicon Valley, characterized by having an affair with one’s car. Under pressure, San Francisco, I am happy to report, is Manhattanizing; youth devising new apps, prefer the City to unaffordable mansions in the woods, far from any trace of civilization.
Some of the new towers in San Francisco will provide the upper middle class with decent housing (instead of demented rents in small, dank, mold ridden rabbit cages).
This, massive construction, is a solution for the entirely stagnating Western World: build more ecological, denser, high tech cities. Not only the economy will blossom, but the biosphere outside of these more efficient centers of humanity, will be given an opportunity to recover.
Modern buildings can be not just energy efficient, but energy, and even food producing. Especially tall skyscrapers. And to commute between city centers, 250 miles per hour electric trains are already a reality. London city center is just two hours from Paris city center, by the existing train, the Eurostar.
Off with anti-city mentality. Remember that civilization has to do with cities. Grow them right. To work!