Is Philadelphia a model for Phoenix? Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton has praised that city’s government for its plan to implement high-speed wireless Internet for residents. He contrasts it with Phoenix, whose “challenges,” he complains, keep it from being as business-friendly as Philly.
As a former Philadelphian–born, raised, and educated there–I have news for Mr. Talton. People are leaving Philadelphia in droves, particularly if they have a college degree. According to The Economist, the top destination in the country for college graduates is Phoenix.
Flight from Philadelphia is not a new pattern. The city has shed about a half-million residents since the 1950s. The future doesn’t look any better. Despite its Internet plans and the alleged “hipness” of its downtown, Philadelphia’s bloated city government is rife with corruption. You know your city’s in trouble when the mayor’s offices are being bugged by the FBI.
Worse, Philadelphia’s crushing “business privilege tax and wage tax” chases businesses out of the city.
Business owners and entrepreneurs want low taxes, light regulation, and a corruption-free city government that confines itself to providing essential services. That’s why the Phoenix metropolitan area ranks at the top of Entrepreneur magazine’s hotspots for entrepreneurs. It was number 16 in Inc. magazine’s 2005 list of top cities for businesses. Philadelphia? It was 265.
Philadelphia can have its city-planned Internet. As for me and thousands of former Philadelphians, we’ll take the Phoenix area’s vibrant economy over a “free” Internet any day.
Damon Chetson ([email protected]) is director of grants and special projects at the Goldwater Institute, Phoenix, Arizona. This essay was first published online at http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/article.php/788.html and is used with permission.