Friday, November 18, 2011

We Ain’t Moving Much and We're Worse For It

In an article posted earlier this week CLICK HERE, the Census Bureau reported that only 11.6% of Americans moved between March 2010 and March 2011. This is down almost one percentage point from previous year. In 1984-85 46 million people moved residences. Last year’s figure was 35 million people. People and their families move for hundreds of reasons: new jobs, divorce, marriage, transfers, moving from college, moving into your old bedroom at home. Each and every one is personal. That’s still a lot of rental trailers and moving vans, yet not nearly at the level of mid-eighties.

What was also noted in the report was that there has been a serious declined in the mobility of homeowners. Well that’s a huge surprise! It seems since no one will buy our current home, we just sit tight (until the market turns) and put off buying that dream house we have always wanted. You know the one: it doesn’t have a leaky roof that needs repair, it has an extra bedroom for the kids, and it can hold both cars in its garage. Yes, the collapse of the housing market has forced many of us to stay put.

We have been a mobile nation since the Pilgrims washed up on the proverbial rock in Massachusetts. Since that day we have packed up and moved every seven years according to some demographers. William H. Whyte in his 1956 book, the Organization Man set the basis for the modern family and its never ending pursuit of the American Dream. We Americans had to move to move up.

This amalgamation of Americans, this stirring of the pot, if you will, created both a nation of strong individuals but also a nation that grew more tolerant. If you and your neighbors just arrived in a brand new community, you had to get along and become more understanding to succeed. You joined arm and arm with your neighbors. This new trend of staying put and not moving seems like a form of agoraphobia. Much of this has been forced by the collapse of the banking industry (or most certainly the lending portion). This does not bode well for our future. We can easily become Balkanized, intolerant, and forgetful. The worse part of this may result in regionalizing this country into inflexible economic groups distrustful of other regions, jealous of their success, fearful of their demands (their debt among other things), and intolerant of their leaders.

The sooner we get out of this mess, burn through the foreclosed and empty homes, and push our kids out of the back bedroom, the better we will be. American’s must “Man UP” and take control. Not like the lackies camping out for free in every large city, but more like the partners down the street who are gambling everything they have on a new restaurant or the techies who wake up in the middle of the night with brilliant ideas and are going to find a way to make them work, and the young couple who won the immigrant lottery and are opening a new dry cleaners – these are the people I’d bet on.

Stay tuned . . . .

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