These scorching days inspire writing about firefighters. In Montana, Senator Burns is under fire for having attacked a local brigade. And in Dallas, W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is in a bit of hot water for commenting on a study that found that the middle-class is being priced out of urban life. Cox said (to the NYT):
Of course, cities need police officers, firefighters, teachers. But as long as they can get the labor they need from somewhere nearby, some economists say, middle-class shrinkage may not hurt. In Southern California, developers import construction workers from Las Vegas and put them up in hotels; costs go up but rich clients can pay. Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said [Cox.] “I think it’s great,” he said. “It gives you portfolio diversification in your income.” Pay for essential workers like plumbers and cabdrivers will tend to go up, he said.
Cox has an optics issue here, but he’s also missing the point. Economically diverse neighborhoods, the argument goes, are a type of a public good. Believing that individuals will “pay” for that good through double-employment is foolish.