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April 05, 2018


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Rogue is absolutely correct. Don’t return for all the reasons Rogue has stated. You escaped the Land of Ignorance, don’t look back.

Don't return to AZ.

If you need to stay in US, then go to Austin.

Otherwise, go north young man. To one of the Baltic states. Check Estonia first. Your degree will make you a super star in that part of the world.

Wish you the best.

There was a point of no return that Arizona crossed a generation ago. It began, I believe, when Fife Symington began the tax cutting fiesta that constitutes public policy in Arizona. It meant underfunded public education, including much higher tuition at the state univesities. It means a degraded public square where the good life is measured by a citizen's ability to opt out of civic life and social responsibility. The opiate of Arizona's masses is an ultra-low cost of living that swamps all other virtues.

I see a few faint signs of hope that Arizona's changing demographics might curb some of the right-wing gridlock. But even if that's the case, it will be difficult if not impossible to undertake the arduous and painful road back to necessary public investments (aside from freeway construction, of course). Arizonans are simply addicted to the sugar high of low taxes

I left Arizona because I believed with good reason that there was no political renaissance possible. That said, it's possible to live well in some of the tonier enclaves. I'm not blind to the charms of Scottsdale's green belt or Tempe's Town Lake. The glories of the Sonoran Desert are still a powerful lure. But the environmental pressures will worsen over time even as Arizona continues to deny there are any problems whatsoever. Maybe the good life will sustain itself for those people who can afford private security and unlimited water. I wish them well even if it only means a soft landing in some place that understands how finite the good life ultimately is.

If I were 21 and healthy, I'd move to Scandinavia.

In the U.S., the best cities are NYC, Boston, D.C., Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, LA, Portland, and Seattle.

Hidden gems: St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati — but Cincy hobbled by right-wing county and state hostility to cities, specifically rail and rail transit.

My problems with Austin are 1) It's almost totally car dependent and a sprawl mess; 2) It's still in Texas. Gen. Sherman said if he owned Texas and he owned hell, he's rent out Texas and live in hell.

I am here. Still. Arizona.

There are places -- the Supes, the Whetstones, the Dragoons, the eastern Rincons, the Sierra Ancha, and so many like these, that abide. How could I possibly leave?

The tides of development wash up against them. The devouring locusts of of both snowbird home developers and recreational ATVs attack them. But they abide.

How in god's good green earth could I ever abandon them?

Come home. Come home to fight for an Arizona not on sale to the highest bidder.

Reno, is a great place to relocate to for millennials and Gen X, where unlike the East Valley, the LDS have a tremendous civic work ethic, and are re-branding the city as "the great adventure spot" for the nearby Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe. And, they've brought in high tech companies including Tesla. They've also hired at least one Colorado developer from Boulder, to revitalize downtown. Reno is also four hours from the bay area. Many people tellecommute from Reno and nearby Truckee and Lake Tahoe. However, Boulder and Denver are much further ahead of Reno, in terms of business opportunities, and percentage of college graduates, along with the northwestern Denver suburbs.

The city of Denver, is increasingly unsafe in many areas, be very careful when visiting and don't get taken advantage of. Almost happened to me twice in the last 24 hours as I am visiting right now. Due to high crime, the educated yuppies are moving northwest towards Boulder, north to Fort Collins, and southwest near Greenwood Village and Castle Rock. Although there are very good areas still within the City of Denver such as near Washington Park.

Denver, Boulder, and Reno, are all very different than Phoenix and Scottsdale in that people actually utilize the parks. Whereas there are never more than a dozen cars parked at the Gateway trailhead in the Scottsdale Preserve, there are hundreds of cars parked at Chatauqua Park in Boulder, and at Cheesman and Washington Parks in Denver. People truly are interested in outdoor activities and the environment. Reno, Truckee, and Lake Tahoe, are the same way.

I've lived in Reno but never in Boulder-Denver but have been to Boulder several times. Reno and Boulder are rivals and have advantages and disadvantages.

I've lived in Scottsdale three times, but nobody uses the Scottsdale Preserve, which has at least 12 trailheads. The current City Council cares about the environment, and two years ago, wrote me a very nice note encouraging me to go to Colorado.

Personally, I think if one has a critical thinking capability, and possesses a conscience that understands the concept of fairness, if you move to Arizona, you are going to be bothered by what you encounter.

You may feel the need to protest, but you will be labeled a troublemaker, rebel, smart-ass, or worse.

Quite a LOT of people move to Arizona BECAUSE it is a bigoted, racist, biased, and unfair place--and THAT overwhelmingly appeals to their black, "ugly american" pits they have for a soul. These folks are absolutely determined to keep Arizona that way, and they WILL view a moral and conscience-driven person as a threat.

Save yourself the pain: don't go there....


I return to my home state to see family or attend special occasions (I'll be my grand niece's First Holy Communion as her sponsor) but not to live.

It's always been true that people make a place. Many of the newcomers the past generation have tainted Arizona and my memory of the state.

Arizona: go for the winter golf. Live somewhere else.

I agree with Joe. I live currently at the Great Superstition and have lived in Whetstone. Unfortunately these areas are losing out to the developers, New houses and apartments go up daily in the shadow of the Superstitions and near Benson 8000 more homes are planned to drain whats left of the trickle of water from the San Pedro.

My computer expert Grandson and his computer expert wife were recruited to Denver from Austin. Big pay raises. The live and work right on the Lite Rail.

Currently I am encouraged by the coming summer as those pesky (illegal??) Canadians and Midwest soil banker White Red Neck Trump supporters are fleeing the heat.

Like Ed Abbey, I'll probaly die in the Great Sonoran Desert, "what's left of it."

As a native Arizonan from the 50's I feel that I can weigh in. We left Phoenix for Long Island NY in 1990 because my husband wanted an academic job and there was a lot more universities in the East. We never looked back...my son lives in Bayside Queens and has a good job-22 minutes from NYC-so little changes in AZ and we were so easily bored-we are NEVER bored here-10 minutes from the ocean, 45 min from the city...Phoenix people never leave (unless they move to CA) try something new while you're young!

I moved back in 2000 after living in Colorado and Boston. I love the southwest and I love Arizona. I make it work by finding my people, staying as close to downtown as I can and going hiking and up north early and often. I love the smell of Phoenix at night. I love this place as it is woven into my being and yet, it is like living in the unconscious of our country. We have a concentration of this country's Shadow packed tightly into Maricopa County.

When I related memories of the Valley back in the 1950s and early 1960s to my geography students in 2009, they could not reconcile the Maricopa County they lived in with what I was describing. I retired from teaching and left Arizona for good shortly afterwards. For years, I had tried through teaching, community organizations, politics, and support of good causes to turn around the bus hurtling towards the cliff, which collided with folks as it went. As much as I loved Arizona, it had changed to the point I finally had to leave, for my own peace of mind. Found my special home in a small city on the shoreline in Kitsap County, Washington. Dove into the community headfirst, was welcomed, appreciated, and my voice listened to. Retired, I was sought out and offered meaningful, well-compensated work nearby. The love I once had for Arizona is now replaced with die-hard loyalty to my current community and the Pacific Northwest. Bitter disappointment, not in my personal life but in the decline of Arizona's civic-minded spirit, is what finally spurred me to start a new life elsewhere.

I am a native Arizonan and have spent most of my life in the Phoenix area. I understand your point, Jon, and agree with a lot of it. But I believe good people are having important impacts here. In grad school, I thought I'd never come back to live. But it called to me and though I often shake my head at the politics, I still love it. We need the help of this young person and others like him!

I am a native Arizonan. My ancestors are from Mexico. My parents' families have been here since the mid-1800's. With the exception of a summer in DC, I have lived my whole life here. And during that brief stay,I really missed our Mexican food.

I no longer participate in politics, but I would describe myself as liberal. Liberals can be just as fascist as any other group. I was fired by liberal fascists who did not want their wrongdoings known. So conservatives do not have the market on behaving badly.

Anywhere you settle will have its challenges.

I moved to Denver via Boulder in 2013. Didn't like Boulder - it's as pretentious in its own way as North Scottsdale, and just as white. Moved down to Denver and have been quite happy here, with the exception of soaring rents. I cannot overstate what a relief it has been to be away from AZ politics, to not be embarrassed every time I look at a newspaper. If I were to move from here (and it could happen, given the volatility of employment these days), I'd go somewhere a bit smaller, I think. I'd only return to AZ if the alternatives were worse - like Mississippi. The state is simply not environmentally sustainable.

R.C.-I am around your age and remember coming here for college in 1966.Our spending on education was in the middle and junior college was free tuition.I won a $500 scholarship form Phoenix College and it was enought to get me through a year and 1/2 ASU night school.Now I am retired and the wingnuts are in charge and they only know tax cuts and smaller gov't.The Birchers were still there in 1966 but The Republicans were smart enought to ignore them and keep them under control.

I spend 6 mos. in Flagstaff and 6 mos. in Phx. enjoying 'Championship Golf ."It is the only way one can stand the place ,in my opinion.

My advice to the young man would be the same,if he doesn't have family here to draw him back here.If he has family here, use them all he can to live like I do.

Don't relocate to Wisconsin, not even to Madison, where state politicians are busy starving the Univ. of Wisconsin of funding (I wonder from which "well regarded Midwestern university" Jon's correspondent graduated)

I just returned from visiting Arizona. Lived there some 14 years ago. We always love going back, but it's for the very sunshine (not golf or spring training) that draws so many others. Phoenix looks successful on the surface--the museums are notable and downtown has some shiny new buildings--but we know it's skin deep. The water will run out some day and the highways will run with escapees elsewhere.

My family has lived in Phoenix since 1969 and we have invested in many historic properties around the State over the years to save what can be saved for future generations. Yes-the summers are brutal and the right wing nuts continue to damage our public schools and public image. But we refuse to concede Arizona and Phoenix to them. I say let us keep fighting to make Phoenix a center of culture and innovation-hard as that may be at the moment.

I say “come home”, come help PHX grow up. I am a native Phoenician and currently live In Mesa by the border with Tempe. Not exactly the garden spot of the valley. But every time I get ready to give up on the place, something interesting starts to happen.
A few weeks ago yellow and green bikes started to appear on the sidewalks and as I found out, you could rent them and leave them at your destination. I thought to myself, that no one would be interested in renting a bike, we all drive cars, but to my amazement I see people riding around on the bikes. I fact I see the bikes left all over the neighborhood. Same thing with the light rail, I did not think anyone would use it. Seems to be fairly crowded every time I ride it, now days. Don’t give up on your home I think there is hope for us.

Growing up in the Phoenix area, I gave up a long time ago to help this place. The people who choose to stay here are the ones who are content with the way things work. They like the sprawl, they like driving everywhere, they like being away from poor minorities in their secluded suburbs within suburbs. I feel like the crazy one when I complain about how things work and try to convince those who are willing to stay here to at least acknowledge these problems. The ones who see the problems and don't like them choose to leave the state altogether. What you're left with are apathetic denizens who want to keep things the way they are. Such a shame. I have given up and will remain defeated. I'm in my mid twenties and I hope I will have the opportunity to leave this place. The only things stopping me are financial security and mainly my family/relatives. I wish I could take them with me.

My family moved to a small mountain town in Arizona from a small flatlands Colorado town in the early 1970s. The difference in civic mindedness was startling even to me as a 10 year old. My Colorado hometown was built during the first half of the 20th century and seemed designed to be as pleasing as possible to its inhabitants. On one end of town was a hill atop which they built a swimming pool. Surrounding the pool on all sides of the hill was a 9 hole golf course. On the other end of town was the celebrated and proudly maintained fairgrounds. You walked or drove on tree lined Main Street to get from one to the other.

In Arizona, my new town was simply butt ugly - even though it was surrounded by the beauty of the mountains. They had a swimming pool, but it was neglected and placed on a corner lot in a lousy part of town. No grass, no trees, no maintenance. Just dirt and weeds. There seemed to be little in the way of planning and certainly not for the aesthetic benefit of its inhabitants. It was also built in the early and middle parts of the 20th century, but no nuance and charm from the era remained.

After finishing high school and a stint at NAU (the only Arizona place worth considering), I ended up in Phoenix. My contempt for Arizona has been present in me since I first found that Arizona small town swimming pool. As I matured, so did my contempt. What was true about my observations in that small town as a kid is true about the entire state - and the mindset that goes with it. Phoenix and all of Arizona have been starved of civic glue for so long now that it is truly irreparable. While I don't believe the majority of people in the state reflect the values of the "kookocracy," I do believe that it is acceptable to a majority of Arizonans to let the kooks run the place.

Kooks don't like anything "civic" or "public." And they do indeed run the place. You can come back here to fight them and win an occasional battle. But it will still be 118 degrees and the public, ignored for so long, will still be disengaged. Those engaged will be the religious and their kook allies. I find it a wasted battle. I actually bought a house in that small Colorado hometown 10 years ago and cannot WAIT to get out of Arizona and retire there.

I've spent my adult life here without ever loving Phoenix. Arizona I loved. Phoenix I tolerated to be near what I loved.

But if I were young and from here I might return and dig in. Want to fight dragons? We have more than our share.

Water rapists


charter school racket

Downtown Phoenix hasn't SMELLED good since 1980!
was great in 1950!
Currently it smells like a mixture of Asphalt and concrete,

this looks good

The lack of Fortune 500 headquarters or regional offices in Arizona is a critical factor for a career minded individual. Employers treat employees much better if they have numerous competitors for highly skilled and paid employees. Arizona employers, for many reasons, have a long and well earned reputation for treating employees at all levels badly. It is much easier for an employer to take an employee for granted when the nearest competitor for those professional or managerial skills requires the employee to relocate to another state instead of walking across the street. Forget working for any level of Arizona government. It doesn't get any worse.

"Do I return to my home state and try to make it a better place, or do I abandon it for a better place?"

Those who have the power to make Arizona a better state like it the way it is. Maybe they would like it more if taxes could be lowered more, but other than that, they are pleased with the status quo. Your home state has a long history of suppressing dissent at the voting box, in the courts and in the workplace. Arizona is what it is. Wasting your hard earned professional skills by returning to your home state won't change things at all.

The atmosphere of Phoenix has a laid-back attitude, with a suburban geography designed for the automobile.

There isn't the fast pace or hustle or liveliness as found in the downtowns of other metropolitan areas.

Transit infrastructure and service is also weak compared to other cities and metro areas.

The higher education infrastructure (a.k.a., universities) is also lacking with too few public universities in particular.

Arizona lacks institutions and has an immature state government that does not collect enough revenue (taxes) to support its population size as the 14th largest state.

It is no surprise then that millennials and urbanites choose to live elsewhere and away from Arizona.

Tonight I stepped outside. It is early April. And the Phoenix air is scented with the blossoms of citrus trees.

The big old creosote bush outside my breakfast-nook window has exploded into bloom, dry winter notwithstanding. I see honeybees visiting the blossoms, as well as big, black, glossy carpenter bees. Verdins come by, devouring these flowers. Are the golden petals themselves nutritious, or are these little birds after the tiny dollops of nectar and pollen?

Hummingbirds visit the aloe flowers over by my neighbor's wall.

Under my breakfast-nook creosote, I am visited by mourning doves, Gambel quail, and desert cottontails, all rooting about for seeds, greens, and insects to eat.

At night, when I step out of my garage to put something into my big City of Phoenix blue recycling bin, I hear a nearby male mockingbird, going full tilt. He'll keep up his song -- relentlessly, passionately -- until morning. I hope that all his effort will result in the wife he so ardently sings for.

These are the odors, sights, and sounds of the Sonoran Desert, even here in my little yard in the bowels of Paradise Valley.

If I left Phoenix, I am sure I would find myself dreaming of these things. Haunted by these things.

I am already haunted by the April heat in Phoenix with a taste of things to come for many months. Birdsong doesn’t ease the heat induced paralysis at all.

Joe, Down town Phoenix does not smell like the sweet bowels of PARADISE VALLEY.
But much like the Slopes of The Mighty Superstion.

For the college student deciding if Phoenix holds any promise in the future consider this: Phoenix can probably surf on the mid-westerners with pensions for another 10 years. At that point there are more dead retirees each year trying to sell their properties than retirees with any money moving in.

The Sunshine Cash Cow is a species of retiree that occupied an important economic niche from the mid 70s to the early 20th century. By the aughts the habitat nurturing the Sunshine Cow had been bladed over, endangering retirement security for most Americans. The automotive bailouts signaled the actual end of an era in 2008 and the beginning can be traced to 86 when pension plans were replaced with 401k plans.

Lets assume Our Sunshine Retiree began working around age 20 in 1977. He put in his 30 years in 2007 and still had the emotional and physical togetherness necessary to act on his retirement goals. Being from the Midwest, Arizona had the primary appeal. The weather holds steady and it isn’t nearly as expensive as CA nor does it require any kind of social cachet to establish a presence in the new environment. Even better, there is a sizable population of former mid-westerners already established here.

Those sunshine retirees bring their savings to Arizona, buy a house, spend on groceries and have their substantial health care needs met. When they pass on they leave legacies to local institutions. It is the drawing down of retiree’s savings that drives the Maricopa economy. It is what supplies the cash for the infrastructure needed to educate the children of the care providers and the capital equipment costs of MRIs, CAT SCANS, bone density XRAY machines. State budgeting reports show the cost of an MRI machine exceeds the utility of the same amount of money spent on educating the populace. There can be no surer way of recognizing this utility than understanding where AZ children rank on national per capita funding surveys.

Peak sunshine cash flow ended in 2018. That puts us at edge of the economic precipice where serious shortfalls in cash are going to be a reality. To secure a good living in Phoenix the college student would have to believe the Sunshine Cash Cow had a sustainable replacement pool to make up for the passing on of the older generations. Maybe California pensioners cashing out their home and moving to AZ are the answer. There’s still some economic pull left in this but the ‘cash and carry’ crowd is pretty well settled by now. Give it another five years.

Take Jon’s advice, if you like staying on the long side of the odds start learning how to tell a Norwegian from a Swede.

phoenix is about the short hustle. it is about exploitation without a future. as the cold cities get a little warmer and the air conditioning of the city gets earlier and earlier in the year the value of the dirt and brick and stucco will suffer. and as los angeles gets thirstier will a little voting block be able to keep the shrinking colorado flowing all the way to tucson?

it will be a nice place to visit but you don't want to live there. the sharpies banked their cut; the phoenix rising from the fire is a story of a miraculous birth but does not estimate the longevity of that miracle...

I'd love to hear from Concern Troll and Ex Phx Planner.

Go where your heart leads. For there is where you can make a difference.

Michelle Mayer, you've given the best advice.

I'm not sure the whole young folks thing with cities will continue. The homelessness problem is a real in downtown Seattle, SF and LA. In Denver, I nearly had to throwdown on an aggressive beggar. Not my finest moment, but I got the feeling the guy's method of scaring people into giving money was a daily deal for tourists. To his credit, his name-calling was impressively creative.

Solve that issue and Cities are the place to be.

Joe Schallan, good stuff and exactly how i feel about Phoenix.

And yet, in the past month or so, I've read that Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the US (again). Wish more people would read this blog about such a hellish, nightmarish scenario they are getting themselves into, and perhaps help stem the tide.

The reality is, the quality of life in AZ is far superior to most of the rest of the country, I've lived there, done that...

. . or, to paraphrase Michelle Mayer; go where your heart leads, and there you will find your peace.

I followed my heart, and we know how that turned out.

To paraphrase the song, they tore down your heart in order to put in a parking lot. (:(

It's inevitable that Phoenix's continuing evolution into one of the countries largest metropolitan areas will cause old timers to wax poetic about times past. I wouldn't allow that to dissuade me from moving back.

Water may or may not be a problem in the future. If it's priced correctly it won't be a disaster for most (unless your future plans are to grow watermelons in the desert.)

Phoenix has a lot to offer, and a long way yet to go.

"...old timers to wax poetic about times past."

Nice try at eliding over the current state of affairs here, which any young person should assess carefully before moving back.

"The reality is, the quality of life in AZ is far superior to most of the rest of the country..." I suppose this might be true--for a certain kind of person.

But other people may look for more from life than year round barbecues, happy hours, pretty sunsets, and rooting for mediocre professional sports' teams.

Yes, by all means follow your heart. But don't disconnect your brain.

Actually sandias grow quite well in the sand and water.
And Arizona will continue to be FILLED up with old folks in need of health care. But folks that have little interest in helping others, particularly youth. Schools will continue to decline and the hucksters pushing charter schools will get richer. Folks that don't believe in climate change and think a blading bulldozer is the answer to the "Ugly brown" desert. Folks that are Theocrats, foks that vote for dictorial strong men, and folks that hate brown people.
Well now thats my cup of Joe for the day. Hasta mañana.

As much as I love Arizona, I cannot recommend coming here at this time. I came in 1975 and fell in love with Phoenix, but the Phoenix of the past.
When my children graduated, they were encouraged to leave.
Young people face many challenges today. Living in Phoenix today poses additional ones. Why not seek out a region that is forward-thinking?
Any young person who moves here must also realize that they will most likely marry and have kids in the next few years. This is not a good place to raise kids.
Arizona's policies on poverty, health and education say very loudly that "We don't care about children!"

The state simply doesn't love it's children.

Betty picked out the most important concrete question for your articulate young grad: do you want to have kids? Because raising kids in Arizona, and educating kids in Arizona, is an uphill climb. Childcare is cheaper, but generally low quality. The public school system is on its deathbed, and while there are small wealthy districts with better public schools, the housing prices in those districts are radically higher. There are some excellent charter schools, but the charter school racket is designed to funnel money into a few corrupt pockets, and the legislature will protect the profitmongers over the honest educators if push comes to shove. The university system is similarly underfunded, and in-state tuition continues to skyrocket.

Phoenix is not a good place to raise children right now. (It's not a great place for idealistic young grads to meet people either.)

I have two children in elementary here in Phoenix. I have been very impressed with the quality of school choices we have in the valley. My kids are enrolled in Ahwatukee area schools. Other districts in the valley compare favorably.

I have thought about moving to California (since I work in LA), but the quality of their schools and cost of living keep me, happily, in Phoenix.

In any school district parental involvement is critical in the success of students. Arizona is a great place to raise kids, but you cannot expect others to do that for you.

Ah yes, Ahwatukee the Great White Master community. A atrocious degradation of the Sonoran landscape. I lived there a few years and was greatly sadden as I knew that part of Arizona before they bladed it. And now even the Salt River Gila indigenous folks have got caught up in the continuing assault on mother earth. I see no slowing down on the population battering on the stupendous southwest and the destruction of these great deserts and their plants and animals. Screw a few desert tortoises if I can have a pool in my backyard. And we have been the death of my favorite reptile, the Horned toad. May one spit blood from its eyes in your face.
To quote myself, TR’s biggest mistake was providing the means to bring water to the Valley of the Sun.
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
― Edward Abbey, The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West
Joe while taking the train to LA for your day job I suggest you try reading Michio Kaku’s book The Future of Humanity.

Well my cup of Joe runneth over.
Hasta Luego

Another thing to consider is social capital. Below are links to a new congressional report on states and counties.


Arizona's overall score: 47th.

Also, remember, the person who posed the question is young, wants to use his training in environmental science to change Arizona's sustainability trajectory, and doesn't want to have to commute to LA for work.

Well, since the proprietor invited me to comment...I have mixed feelings about Phoenix in general, and Arizona.

The current state of the state is pretty pathetic. Even Double Dip has finally recognized the futility of destroying the education system, and even how Charters are not the glorious solution. In short, using charters to attack traditional education has made multiple messes, with the huge installed base sucking up more and more property taxes (and quiet increases), while the operating expenses paid for by the state need to soar to cover the cost of really paying teachers.

In short, the big lie of perpetual tax cuts is done. No more big lie. Look at the soaring deficits on the federal level and see it playing out again as the big lie.

So education is a big negative, with huge deferred costs that will have to be paid, and will be paid with regressive sales taxes (ok useless tax or whatever you want to TPT it).

The huge scale of public college education is next up on the chopping block- so my guess is it starts falling when the Crow flies.

Now, on the flip side is the suburban redoubts of lighter shaded folks with great schools- the funny part is test scores for those school have started falling, and special programs for the gifted and talented will be next on the block- charters win through concentration and branding (hey even middle of the road at Basis that survived to graduate high school is good enough for Barett Honors...) Sooooo, guess what is going to become obvious to the great masses- gotta get little Humpty Dumpty into the charter or top private school- one of the populations not extensively served by charter schools is the Special Ed bunch- outside of a few schools struggling with the insane costs (The Autism school comes to mind, but they exist on school district extra funding....).

On top of this, we have near total destruction of school teachers as a profession. This 30 year attack on the profession has degraded teachers to the point of irrelevant in Title 1 schools, because so many are not even certified teachers- but instead literally temps or whatever can be scraped up off the street. BTW the Basis method for this is to find burned out tech folks who think teaching is easy- they churn through them like butter.

So in short, one of the most important sectors of the economy in Arizona for economic development of high paying jobs has been specifically targeted for "competitive destruction", without much in the way of renewal. I especially revile cutting funding for failing public schools teaching the poorest kids- just simply cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Well, so in summary, education is a disaster.

30 years of Republican misrule, combined with Koch and Goldwater fog and mirrors.

So, now we can safely put education at the bottom for America- as has been pointed out above, this is great for the retirement folks because that means abundant cheap labor. So yes, this is a plus for those that like a nicely maintained house and clean streets.

So let us move on to local government- it will have more and more problems paying for legacy infrastructure as subdivisions age. The current recognition of the costs per rooftop will grow, and cities in Arizona are going to have to significantly increase revenues to provide services to those rooftops- especially as commercial taxation becomes increasingly fleeting as businesses go virtual or minimal.

In short, the model of retail development with incentives is over- retail will have to pay the full costs, and cannibalizing the base while killing future revenues will have to stop (TIF, and all the other scams should have stopped from the great recession, but hey IBGYBG dictates they go until outlawed)

So, local government will be in the cost cutting business for a long time, especially as the subdivisions start hitting the 30 expected lifetime of infrastructure- streets, and water and sewer rebuilds are very costly, so it is just patch and go....

Cities facing this include all of the big cities that no longer have 5% plus growth rates- and you know it is most of the place.

A good example is Phoenix, still sending big expensive fire trucks out for medical and car crashes without extraction- just send paras in a much smaller unit- the cost savings is immense- but those big trucks will start to look like white elephants if they don't roll....

So in short, local government will be under immense pressure as they face negative development costs with aging infrastructure.

So, another negative for Arizona.

The big third problem in Arizona- jobs- they are not good- education, a huge sector in any state pays extremely poorly- so that means wages are in general depressed in government.

So, outside of some big cities, government wages in Arizona are bad- period. Higher education is being destroyed by the adjunct.

So there goes 20% of the workforce, living the dream.

Meanwhile, because of the aging retirement populations, we have a tremendous amount of service jobs, which are jobs that basically are good for entry level people- we staff these with immigrants legal and illegal so we can pay $10-12 an hour- many of these folks live 6 to a house and one or two basically end up running a crew and providing transport.

Meh, sucks for housing, and everything else, plus a lot of money is sent back to wherever instead of spent in the local economy. Drag.

Construction trades are once again going like mad, but Phoenix is actually losing out to other cities that pay better (anecdotes of people moving to Colorado to make more...)

Headquarters? Don't make me laugh- the education disaster takes that right off the table. In short, Arizona can't compete with incentives due to the State Constitution, and really can't afford to compete due to the destruction of the state and school systems.

That leaves the brunt of the jobs to be service, and did I mention suck?

Here look at the total labor force- stagnant for ten years:

The really funny part is big evil California, with their tax increases has enjoyed more labor growth than Arizona from 2008-2018- Arizona has continued to stagnate.

If you skip the propaganda and the lies put out by Goldwater, one finds that shrinking government has actually shrunk growth. Ooops.

In short, in America with a great big boom going on due to fiscal stimulus, Arizona is finally moving again. The Great Recession was a sledge hammer to the local economy.

And savagely cutting everything ended up causing long term damage, rather than real savings. Gee, hoocoodanode?

So, in short, Arizona is designed for retirement lifestyle, promoted for that lifestyle, and all the incentives are for living that lifestyle here.

So, if your horizon includes dealing with old folks, selling them crap shacks, fixing their crap shacks, selling cheap food to the low rent labor force, and then moving the old into retirement homes, this is the place.

If you are young and want a dynamic job market and the possibility of easy job changes and increasing wages- leave.

In short, get your education, and get out.

The deferred costs here are going to further sap the dynamics of the system. And given the mirage of tech that will never come here, it is obvious the cake is baked.

My schadenfreude at the end of the low tax shake and bake aside, this place is just one giant bezzle.

Now, on to my personal circumstances-

My parents are in the retirement stage- they like it here- they have decent healthcare, they are very happy with their house, and family is close- I will be here until they are gone- just reality with no siblings to help keep them going.

My child will be going in two years- his public high end high school program will last just long enough for him to escape. Right now the plan is to send him out of state if he can do well enough to get some scholarship money. No matter what, I anticipate that he will leave for greener pastures. Reality dictates this state will be what it is. I may relocate at that time.

I don't have a sense of home relating to this place, even though I have lived here for 30 years- but I have no longing for the midwest where I grew up either.

My fantasy is an adobe shack in New Mexico, where I can live a downwardly mobile lifestyle with some good food.


CT, When you are in that adobe shack in NM; if a Honda Fit pulls up and a red headed stranger in a black hat gets out and walks up to your door, hold your fire, it's just Cal coming for a visit.

I'm sorry if I offended you Cal by moving from Seattle to Ahwatukee 23 years ago.

While lounging in my pool, overlooking South Mountain, I'll keep an eye out for the horned toads spitting blood in my direction!

I guess I'll be one of the few outliers here, as per usual.

Jon always talks about the brain drain, and I know it exists, but I did the opposite.

I chose to leave the coastal elite cities I previously worked and lived in to move to the Phoenix metro area, and I am happier here than I was there.

I know there is much melancholy and nostalgia for the lost past, but I imagine most Americans feel that way about wherever they live -- most places change and change markedly, from small towns to big cities. You are not alone in your nostalgia for the past -- I think even residents of the "greatest" cities have tremendous regrets about what's been lost along the way..

Yes, our schools as a whole need to be better, and yes, I would be quite happy indeed to pay more taxes if it completely assured higher teacher salaries for K-12.

The education bait-and-switch we have yet seen is one of my main concerns with Ducey. He needs to come through on this issue or I don't know how he can be taken seriously after all the past missteps and letdowns in this area.

Even despite all our myriad educational issues in AZ, I will say that my children go to good public schools. I am choosing to have them go there rather than a private school because I am convinced of their quality. They have dedicated teachers and administrators.

Now, I did pay a premium to live where I do. Fortunately, with open enrollment and even the best public schools eager to take any students they can attract through OE to garner more funding, as well as the availability of *some* good charter schools, many students from lesser public school districts have more educational opportunities today than ever in the past.

(I do not like charter schools overall, due to many reasons I've discussed before, but I must acknowledge some are quite good and have helped many students access better educations. I also know they are a GOP signature issue and most conservatives aren't anti-charter schools like I am.)

Another point I'd like to note is that the children of Arizona are more diverse than the older migrants who move here to retire, and children comprise 25% of our population. Non-Hispanic white births have made up less than half of Arizona births for a number of years now.

Arizona continues to change, as do all states in the union. The economy has made a nice recovery and the Downtown/historic areas have continued to thrive. There are more tech jobs and well-paying jobs (as well as, certainly, many more entry-level jobs, middle-class jobs, trades, etc.)

Population growth has had many deleterious effects over the years, including the real estate-industrial complex and short hustle that Jon always writes about. No one can deny that. But growth and new jobs, even middling ones, are nothing to shake a stick at. I have many connections in New Mexico and they just do not have the career opportunities there that we have here. Growth has its upsides -- a deeper labor pool does give a state the ability to attract more jobs.

I do get the sense from reading the comments over the years that most of us here at least agree that *some sort* of progress is being made. Maybe we can try to focus on that, as in Jon's post about all the wonderful places to eat and visit in Phoenix.

I personally am encouraged by some of the changes I've seen and I hope that the Valley will continue to grow and develop into a greater and greater metro area over time.

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