Arizona's conservative, anti-immigrant politics help make it a "failed state," says the Boston Review in a lengthy article published today.
The piece makes plenty of good points, but gets watered down by writer Tom Barry's overly simplistic solution. If Arizona simply raised taxes, elected liberal leaders, embraced the federal government as a gentle father-figure and welcomed undocumented workers with open arms, Barry seems to be saying, we'd be doing great.
It's probably tough to understand Arizona's challenges when you're from a state where the poor stay poor and the rich grow ungodly wealthy.
For instance, Barry writes that:
The surge of illegal immigration over the past two decades has in many ways enriched our economy and communities. But--occurring outside the law and in the absence of a shared national plan of sustainable economic growth--illegal immigration contributed to the erosion of our society's sense of community.
In other words, illegal immigration causes only perceived problems -- not real ones.
Barry depressingly concludes:
Arizona as we now know it cannot survive, even if there is another housing boom around the corner and government budgets are stabilized. The Arizona model of sprawling, low-density desert cities was built on the myths of limitless water and perpetually cheap gas and construction labor. The entire country faces the onset of climate change and energy scarcity, but no state will confront as squarely as Arizona the consequences of its patterns of unsustainable development. Instead of moving to meet the challenges of the future, Arizona is decimating educational infrastructure; it is already demonstrating its loyalty to old ideologies over long- term planning.
We won't quibble with this or most of Barry's well-thought-out (albeit left-of-center) points. We're just not that pessimistic about our state's future because, well, it's our state. In any case, we're not moving to Boston, where it's too cold and just too East for us.
Thanks to SB1070, everyone seems to want to psycho-analyze Arizona lately. Barry's article isn't all that original: A quick Google search turned up another article along the same vein by TPM Muckracker, this one entitled "Arizona: Failed state, Failed Immigration Policies."
Yesterday, Bloomberg News published a lengthy article that ties the state's stance toward immigration to the economy, mentioning that Hispanics will be the largest ethnic group in Arizona in another generation.
With the country's media intellectuals focused on Arizona's economy and immigration laws, our problems should soon be solved.