The case for giving up on Buffalo

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Harvard economist Edward Glaeser has a provocative article in City Journal (the Manhattan Institute’s publication; that’s two MI references in two blog posts. Crazy!) making the case that state and federal politicians should stop spending money trying to resurrect Buffalo (via his Harvard colleague Greg Mankiw):

Scores of close to worthless urban projects have received government funding not because any cost-benefit analysis has justified them but because of hazy claims that they would make some once-great area thrive again. It’s almost impossible to imagine that the billions already spent on Buffalo’s urban-renewal projects would satisfy any reasonable cost-benefit analysis for helping to reverse the city’s decline. The desire of people and firms to move is just too strong.

Glaeser is almost certainly right. But still I wonder, do his cost-benefit calculations factor in the economic impact of Rick James? I mean, if there were no Buffalo, it seems unlikely that there would be a Super Freak.