These Are Pennsylvania’s Emptiest Areas

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Idiots sometimes wonder why, if so much land area of Pennsylvania is Republican, why do Republicans have so much trouble winning statewide elections.

The answer is that big swaths of central PA are actually empty. Here’s a cool map that shows the Census tracts where nobody lives. Most are in the western US, but here’s a big dark splotch in Pennsylvania:

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Pennsylvania is an urban state. Three times more people live in urbanized municipalities (which include low density suburbs) than live in rural areas.

Some people think the choice to live in places where nobody lives is some noble activity that should be subsidized. Some other people would like to see this empty land get developed and get subsidized broadband and stuff. Some people think agriculture is a very large economic sector in Pennsylvania deserving of special subsidies.

They are wrong, and this budget season, they need to lose.

This entry was posted in Budget, Economy.

7 Responses to These Are Pennsylvania’s Emptiest Areas

  1. Ryan says:

    The fact that this person used green to denote places where there *aren’t* people has driven me nuts now for over a week.

  2. genuinelysortofyourneighbor,andconcernedaboutthat says:

    “They are wrong, and this budget season, they need to lose.”

    …this is pretty much the inverse of the right’s “urban minorities are the undeserving poor,” isn’t it? There really aren’t a lot of options for someone who thinks they might be better off upping sticks from Bradford County and striking out for the big city (Emira? Binghamton? Scranton? …those great hubs of employment), particularly if your skill set is “I work in a slaughterhouse” or “I’m a dairy farmer’s daughter with a high school diploma” or just “Not much, just like a lot of the people who are already out of work in the the Twin Tiers’ thriving urban centers.” There are a lot of poor people ALL OVER Pennsylvania for whom there aren’t a lot of easy answers; isn’t part of the point of liberalism that so long as they need it, the state’s largesse isn’t to be denied them just because they live in the wrong place or don’t otherwise conform to anyone’s notion of who is or isn’t the “deserving poor”?

    Pennsylvania has an urban poverty problem; Pennsylvania also has a rural poverty problem. Pennsylvania, in fact, has a growing suburban poverty problem. Your comment in one of the linked posts, that…

    “As such, the basket of state housing, transportation, and regulatory policies should encourage people to live in Pennsylvania’s big clusters of people, and discourage them from living in the middle of nowhere.”

    …seems designed to do nothing quite so well as it would manage to perpetuate a really useless and counterproductive debate about which poor people deserve to be “discouraged.” The facts that we don’t spend nearly enough money on our urban areas, or that we don’t spend money all that intelligently in our rural areas, doesn’t make it “wrong” to provide state support to poor people who happen to to live in economically inefficient areas. It makes it economically inefficient, but deciding that “economically inefficient” = “wrong” seems to be a leap waaaaaaay too far here.

    Also worth noting at this point that if I’d realized I was going to have more than one thing to say when I started commenting here, I’d’ve picked a less awful name to submit under, but like Pennsylvania’s struggling rural population, path dependence has unfortunately left me in an unenviable position that it doesn’t quite seem worth it to change.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      The other thing to say about this is that there are just a hell of a lot more urban poor people not getting their due than rural poor people not getting their due. It isn’t like those folks don’t have plenty of advocates, overrepresented as their areas of the state are. The whole system is massively tilted against the interests of urban voters – Democratic voters! Those are the people I want to help, and that’s where my attention is because they don’t have the same pull in Harrisburg. I also care about the city where I live, which gets screwed over systematically at the state level, along with other urban areas like Scranton, and Allentown, and Erie.

      • genuinelysortofyourneighbor,andconcernedaboutthat says:

        Not wrong re: urban versus rural poor, but this is the point I was trying to make – rewiring the deserving/undeserving poor argument so that it corresponds more approximately to your politics isn’t liberalism by any means. And definitely isn’t an effective way to actually deal with rural or urban poverty (or any other policy issue, really).

  3. Jon Geeting says:

    The point isn’t that rural people don’t deserve help in the form of *money* – it’s that we shouldn’t be trying to help people who live in the middle of nowhere by extending the development frontier out to them. It’d be much cheaper, and better for our economy, to bring them to where the people are. State taxpayers certainly should not be paying to extend new roads and sewers and broadband infrastructure out to these places. That’s just a catalyst for sprawl. But I have no problem spending money on health insurance and SNAP and general cash assistance and education.