Misplaced Love for the Suburbs


Tyler Cowen’s love for the suburbs is pretty weird; especially his first and last reasons. His first – We live 30 minutes from Washington but we also have a fox in the backyard. Deer are a frequent sight as well. Probably, it is the other way around i.e. he is living in the fox’s backyard and the frequent deer sightings might suggest increasing human encroachment into their natural habitat. He might not see any more foxes or deer as years go by. His last reason – Many of my friends who live in Manhattan lose interest in global travel or never acquire it. Sadly they feel they already have everything they need from the world right at home. I find that hard to believe if he is making the claim that urbanites do not travel much. In fact, by being exposed to people and cultures from around the world in a more compact living community, their interest is piqued and they may be tempted to experience the new cultures by traveling to the places of their origin. Visit to the nearest Chinatown doesn’t qualify as a cultural experience and people often need more after their first brush with anything foreign especially if they happen to like it.

America’s small-medium towns, for e.g. the one that I live in – College Station – have almost everything that a typical American needs for their daily living; a Wal-Mart, a Target, couple of Krogers or Albertsons’ (big-box grocery stores), scores of fast-food joints and at least one of each franchise-gourmet places. You can live here as long as you want and not miss anything at all. The local Jins or the Panda Express provides your occasional oriental experience and your talk with the odd international student is enough to satiate your “global” experience longings. Only if you are in a big city like New York, would you be faced with a multitude of choices and thus be implored to know and seek more.