As ever-larger American cities jockey to be the next big municipal bankruptcy, it's tempting for city leaders to look for that "magic bullet" to lift their crumbling burgs back to prosperity.

Like, I don't know, a nice big arena, maybe? Oh, right, that arena will probably just saddle your backwater town with millions of dollars more in debt. I know it's disappointing, but just because your city isn't doing well financially probably doesn't mean that you will be able to upend all known laws of sociology, urban studies, and economics in order to grab the juicy pie from the sky. What else will not save your failing city?

  • An expensive new stadium for your professional sports team. That team can pay for it itself. If that team moves to L.A., fuck that team.
  • An infinite number of miles of new highways, to help your unemployed citizens go nowhere faster.
  • More urban sprawl. Suburbs are already the new slums.
  • A kitschy tourist attraction. We can Google that.
  • More big box stores.
  • Drastic tax cuts. Rich people don't want to live in your crappy town no matter how cheap it is.
  • A monorail.
Take all the money you'll save by not blowing it on this crap, and invest it in your school system. You'll produce the most valuable commodity in the world: educated children.

Who will still move the fuck away as quick as they can apply to an out-of-state college. But hey, maybe they'll have fond memories and come back and visit one day when they're successful. And you can sell them some peanut brittle. Recovery is a slow process.

[NYT]