The Cycle of Flight

I haven’t lived in Memphis for long, but there’s been something going on in this city for a long time that I saw back in Little Rock for the 20 odd years that I lived there. The Cycle of Flight is what happens when upper middle class people move out of a neighborhood or community for a newer better community with supposedly less crime, better schools, or lower taxes. These somewhat savvy and financially liquid “habitual movers” are replaced by families seeking to move up into the bracket of the former who are also looking for less crime, better schools, and lower taxes. This cycle will go on for years until the afore mentioned area eventually becomes “the hood”. This continues until it is no longer cost effective for developers to build out. Developers then buy up all the land in a previously developed area and call it a “revitalization”.

But hey, I’m not gonna complain about opportunistic developers and shady land deals. Nope, my bone to pick is with you flighters.

You gave up, you wussed out, you ran away. Maybe there was a legitimate reason for some of you, but by choosing to move into the burbs of Shelby Co. or N. Mississippi you have done the city a double disservice.
1. You have deprived a city desperately in need of leadership of your voice and your vote.
2. You have deprived the city of the financial means to fix the problems that you ran away from.

This one, two punch of heart strings and purse strings has damned you to a life of crappy chain food restaurants and and perpetual migration that can only be likened to that of birds.

You think you’re settled? Think again. Once the next shiny development breaks ground just over the horizon promising safety and affluence you will see the second most popular lawn adornment in the metro area, for sale signs, popping up like crab grass in a cotton field. In your mad dash to keep up with the Joneses, perhaps you can get out with some equity, but in reality, you’ll probably get stuck with a neighborhood full of “those people” you were trying to get away from in the first place.

I don’t and have never understood America’s love affair with sprawl. Sprawl is the physical manifestation of all that is wrong with America psychologically. The idea that you can physically remove yourself from a problem, be it personal or societal, without that problem coming to look for you is perhaps one of the most moronic ideas I’ve ever had to consider. Still, for whatever reason, people continue to do it.

I will not go so far as to call all sprawlers racist, or classist, or whatever. You know why you’re still running, why don’t you just stop and become part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem.

Or is that too far out of character?

See, every time you move further out into the hinterlands you strain the utility system, the police, the fire department, the schools, the roads and God only knows what else. And then, you bitch about it.

I don’t know what kind of arrangement MLGW has with Shelby County and the burbs and all that, but I would like to suggest a special tax on all the folks who choose to live outside the city limits. It’s only fair. If you’re not going to be part of the solution, at least you can help pay for it. Maybe that would slow down some of this foolishness for a while.

In the mean time, enjoy your prefab “which one is mine” home in the hinterlands. Your next move is probably only 3 years away.

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