How Job Growth Can Corrupt A Community

job growth"Growth, growth, growth" is today's political mantra. And the regions of the U.S. actually seeing growth right now, like oil-rich South Texas, are a lucky few. But less discussed are the growing pains that come with growth: skyrocketing rents, rising taxes, traffic jams and, of course, moral turpitude.

Residents of Carrizo Springs, Texas, welcomed the black-gold boom that blessed their town this past year. But the quiet 5,700 community was less pleased by the arrival of a strip club and a number of prostitutes, who solicit the oilworkers at local hotels, motels, and trailer parks. As Fuel Fix reports, outraged citizens protested, petitioned, and created a county committee, which wrote up a "sexually-oriented business" ordinance to regulate the late-night debauch.

Urban growth and moral decline often go hand-in-hand, and concerned locals have always been around to fight the latter. During America's urban industrial boom, many women crusaded against the boozing, fighting, and philandering of their husbands, eventually closing taverns and stopping the sale of liquor -- at least for a while.

But urban decline brings moral vice, too. While this recession has witnessed a remarkable overall decline in crime, the link between unemployment and property crime remains tenacious, according to a November 2010 study. America's poorest cities, like Detroit and St. Louis, have rates of violent crime far above average. And poverty is known to drive prostitution.

So while growth might bring big city vice to sleepy small towns, it also has the power to fight the corrupting effects of unemployment and economic decay. It may be a trade-off, but it's one that many towns across America wish they had the fortune to face.

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