Austin is the pimple-faced teenager of Texas’ cities. But it wears gobs of makeup to cover this up. It looks positively beautiful from afar, but as one gazes closer…well…not so much. To begin with Austin is a city planning monstrosity. Their philosophy of ‘if we don’t build it they won’t come,’ has been disastrous, and the town’s colossal narcissism guarantees that it will continue to become a victim of its own success.
The people running Austin today had little if anything to do with the city’s ascension. And like most heirs, they have little respect for those responsible. Austin is more West Coast at this point than anything else. Californians, in particular, have a knack for running things into the ground. (Moving into a pristine area and then throwing a tantrum at its spoiling). They have all but drained the life’s blood from their home state and have now set their vampiric sights on Austin. With excessive municipal regulation and taxation, they might be successful in their creative destruction.
This taken into consideration, Austin is one of the most creative places in the world at this point in history. But can they sustain this…this is the question.
Austin is on the fast track to accomplish in a matter of two decades what it took NYC and California nearly a century to achieve: killing the bohemian soul. Creative people (true creative people not poseurs) are not usually of privileged means. Their existence requires a reasonably priced lifestyle. In collusion with the real estate lobby, the Austin municipal monarchy could be ensuring its own creative annilation.
This would be a tragedy. But the city seems ill-equipped to deal with adult problems.
Legislatively Austin is largely intact. This is its weakness, as it has crafted few contingent suburban allies. As the minions of disaffected, priced out of the market members of the productive class, transplant to its perimeter (as Californians have done to Texas—see a pattern here?), it increasingly looks like an island. Where else in Texas can you campaign as a ‘Progressive Democrat’ and not have to worry about your signs being ripped from the earth? Other than housing the legislature, Austin has little policy impact.
In a world governed by irony and unintended consequences, the best that Austin can hope for going forward is in establishing itself as an entertainment and information nerve center. Not so much cultivating, but processing and distributing the ideas that could shape the future.
All the state lacks to dominate the cosmos is a media complex…
But again, will Austin’s success guarantee its failure?