We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Dying towns are indeed due to labor needs and labor markets, but I do not see any positive role for government in that. Negative role? Certainly. It's easy to tax businesses away. Some towns have to shrink into villages and hamlets, while other places far away become boom towns. It was forever thus.
When a town loses its tax base, it is done as a place. Ghost town, EBT-land, tattooland, boarded-up-land, meth and heroin-land. It does come to that. I have seen those towns, and so has Charles Murray. Eventually, the only decent jobs are government jobs, and then they go away too. Feudalism was good for villages and the serfs always had work.
Major urban centers, worldwide, continue to be the places with economic opportunity and cultural vitality. Rural life isn't the romantic fantasy that some imagine, unless it's a rustic second home getaway.
How ya gonna keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?
Another example where the problem is bad, but the solutions are worse.
Vermont nad half of NH emptied in the first half of the 1800's, farmers moving to the midwest where the soil did not grow a new crop of rocks every year. Many of those towns did not reach that population again until the 21st C, and a few still have not. Was that a bad thing? Well, it was for some but not for most.
Villages in Eastern Europe are shrinking as their bright young people move to find better jobs in Bonn or Dublin.
Assistant Village Idiot
It makes you wonder, the Civil War. It gave American males a chance to see a wider world than what they grew up in and make a life changing choice to leave for greener pastures. They saw them damn near everywhere they went as young farmers and apothecaries and damned if they didn't latch onto a good thing and all head west when the war ended.
Hundreds of townships are doing just fine because they, like their residents, live within their means. When local and county officials start voting fat pensions for themselves it's time to put your house on the market and look elsewhere.
The problem with most of these dying towns are that they are bloodsuckers to any enterprise, doubly true if they have a tradition of strong unionism. Any business that comes within their grasp is quickly sucked dry by the local taxes and deferred public works. Yes, they will grant tax breaks to large companies, but that just puts more sucking on the small business where real growth happens. And even with tax breaks, it's only a couple years before they attack the large capital investment with unionization.
It is safer to do business in the large cities with lots of economic activity to provide cover from the revenue vampires down at the small town city hall.
When I was working on my MBA I wrote a paper on federally and locally subsidized businesses. My example was a food operation that made frozen pizzas for supermarket sales. Their property taxes were waived. Their building permits and fees were waived. Virtually all government fees/taxes were waived for a number of years and the company in turn agreed to hire people on welfare. A few years later about the time that the waivers ran out the company went out of business. The building is now owned by a HVAC company which presumably pays their taxes. It was a tax avoidance scam facilitated by the various governments at all levels. I suspect that the owner(s) simply moved on after the waivers played out to another venue and more waivers.
Sometimes others including greens, planners and lawyers destroy towns. Blitz made gas cans forever and was the biggest employer in their home town. Trial lawyers went after them everytime a good ol boy poured gasoline on a fire and got burned. Both company and town went out of business.
There seems to be no "precautionary principle" when government regulations or liability law are concerned.
Big city life isn't the romantic fantasy that some imagine, unless it's a weekend getaway to enjoy sight-seeing or a pro ball game.
"Major urban centers, worldwide, continue to be the places with economic opportunity and cultural vitality"
Economic opportunity isn't everything, and for most the city is an expensive place with cramped housing, bad traffic and poor schools. There is a reason that westward expansion happened. Your cultural vitality comment reeks of elitism.
Big city life is not Friends, Seinfeld or Sex in the City. Regardless, liberty means not having this model imposed on everyone else, whether by over gov't fiat or through tax and economic policy and incentives.