There are many reasons for the decay of the North and the blossoming of the South. Chief among them is air conditioning.
One of the main reasons industry was in the North in years past was because factories tended to be hot places. One could build cars all day long, all year long in mostly chilly Detroit. It’s much harder to do that in Atlanta where it can be in the 90s in October.
Since the advent of air conditioning, which makes southern summers tolerable, people have also come to realize that they like the sun. Sunshine makes people happy. I am completely convinced that one of the reasons so many people in the North seem so miserable is due to the fact that they don’t get enough sunshine. I am not kidding.
In the attached article written by Joel Kotkin at The Daily Beast, he explains some of the other reasons why the South is leaving the North behind economically.
Probably at least as important as the natural human need for sunshine is the fact that the South actually wants to do business. Where New York, and California burden businesses with endless taxation and regulation, perpetuating what is often a cronyist system of patronage, the southern tier has a lighter hand.
Why on earth would anyone ever want to build an auto plant in the North these days? The governments are hostile to business, the unions are hostile to business, the infrastructure is older, the population is older. Indeed David Stockman in his recent book The Great Deformation makes the point that the auto bailouts were really about keeping plants which were not economically viable (but chock full of unionized workers) from moving south. BMW makes cars in South Carolina. Toyota makes them in Kentucky. GM makes them in drab old northern Ohio (or increasingly in China.)
As the article points out the North is playing defense. It is resting on its laurels. It is living off the fat of the industrial revolution, but the information revolution may increasingly be passing it by. Again, why would anyone want to do business where it’s hard to do business, where the population is rapidly aging, and where it’s cold? Most business people don’t and that’s why they are moving south.
One last parting bit. I’ve lived in both the North and the South. I now make my home in Thomas Jefferson’s city, Charlottesville Virginia, but I’ve lived north of the Mason Dixon line for extended periods. I love New York, much of my family is from there. Boston has charm. Even Philadelphia has its positives. But there is absolutely no doubt that life is better in the South. Flat out.
People are nicer. The days are longer. The tea more readily available. And the barbecue is good. For me, when I cross the Potomac (heading south) a weight is lifted just a bit. The rat race of the northeast begins to fade in my rear view mirror and I enter the land of human beings again. I am a southerner and I understand why so many people want to come here.
Saying all of this I love my northern friends. Hockey is a great sport and there are few things better than a piping hot bowl of New England clam chowder. All I ask is that you smile a bit more.