Northampton was named one of America’s best small cities last week, Longmeadow, western Massachusetts’ richest, and Amherst, Massachusetts’ 4th smartest community. Also last week, Amherst state senator Stanley Rosenberg pronounced Springfield “a city in decline”. The paper tried to rustle up some controversy regarding the statement, but given Springfield’s legendary self-loathing, it was a futile effort.
Of course Springfield IS a city in decline. The northeast is a region in decline, and any honest appraisal of the United States is that it is a nation in decline; being the pinnacle, being on top, being the one and only global hegemon, means that there is only one way left to go, after all.
What is meant by Springfield being in decline is different from that, of course. Springfield became a significant city as a manufacturing center and that turned out to be a bad idea. On the other hand, the region, and even the city’s population has not declined nearly as much as many other “formerly industrial” parts of the United States, and incomes are still fairly high throughout the valley. Interestingly, most of the jobs which keep the region…outside of Springfield…prosperous, are in Springfield and/or only exist because of the population base the city provides.
Springfield would still be seen as prosperous, as Longmeadow, Northampton, and Amherst are, if just the people who live in those communities who came from Springfield and whose families came from Springfield had stayed here IN Springfield, or if the people who earned the city’s top salaries deigned to live here. The wonderful homes and idyllic neighborhoods, the loss of which most expats lament, are only “lost” because these people abandoned them. When I meet these traitorous people and they find out that I still live in the heart of the city they deserted they are never short of advice for what the city should do to redeem itself. All the city really needs, however, is for the people who prosper because of the opportunity the city provides to experience that prosperity as citizens.
As long as our ersatz physicians exhibit clear signs of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, I’ll get my advice elsewhere, thank you.